4 min read

Why do I write like I'm running out of time?

I worry that if I am not talking, tweeting, writing about what trans people are experiencing right now, there are cis people who won't know how bad it is.
Why do I write like I'm running out of time?

[CW: suicidal ideation, Club Q shootings, genocide of trans people, transphobia]

Why do I write like I'm running out of time? Because I used to think I was going to kill myself.

I thought about killing myself for the first time when I was eighteen. By the time I was nineteen and had started antidepressants, the future I'd imagined for myself before starting university felt impossibly out of reach. Sometime after that, part of me started believing that my suicide was inevitable. For a significant amount of the last five years, my aim was not to get through another day, but another hour, another minute, another ten seconds.

I repeatedly asked myself why I was forcing myself to keep going when it hurt so much, when it was so hard. The voice in my head that screamed at me to kill myself was so loud that I couldn't remember what it felt like when it wasn't screaming.

When people told me that I was young, that I needed to rest, that there would be time to do everything I wanted to later, I wanted to scream just as loudly. I genuinely didn't believe that I had time or that I would get to grow up. I couldn't picture what twenty-five would look like for, let along thirty, let alone forty. I thought my life would end in my early twenties, and I was determined to do as much as I could before my time was up. To write as much as I could.

I don't think I realised how deeply I'd internalised the idea that suicide was inevitable for me until earlier this year. While the future I'd imagined for myself at eighteen was gone, I started to imagine a new one. As I clawed my way out of the worst and longest depressive low I've ever experienced, I began planning ahead not just in weeks but in months, in years. I dared to think about a future where I don't just survive the next ten seconds, but thrive in a life I've built for myself. It feels reckless. It feels incredible.

And yet the drive to write everything, right away, hasn't gone. I'm better at resting, at listening to my body and taking care of myself, but the urge remains.

Why do I still write like I'm running out of time? Because there are people in the world trying to stop trans people existing - and right now it feels like they're winning. They are a minority, but they're loud and powerful and I don't know any trans person who isn't scared right now.

In my last newsletter, I mentioned that I spent the whole of Trans Awareness Week trying to write the perfect newsletter that would explain to cis people the week's importance and summarise all my anger and fear about the state of trans rights in the world right now. I felt so much pressure to write something that was a powerful and emotive call to action, because Trans Awareness Week is one of the rare times when cis people might actually pay attention when we tell them that we're dying. That we're being killed.

You see, even though I no longer see my suicide as inevitable, it doesn't feel safe to be a trans person. I could give you stats: the increase in reported hate crime against trans people; the percentage of trans youth who have tried to take their own life; the number of trans people who have been murdered so far this year - and that still wouldn't capture the people who have died on the waiting list for gender affirming care. I feel so angry and helpless, and it feels like all I can do is write.

After the Club Q shooting on the eve of Trans Day of Remembrance, I messaged a friend. I feel like I should write something, I told them. Something that tries to be powerful and evocative and make cis straight people care that we're being killed. But also am I doing that because I want to, because it will help me process my grief, or because I feel like I have to?

I've said this before and I will no doubt say this again: I worry that if I am not talking, tweeting, writing about what trans people are experiencing right now, there are cis people who won't know how bad it is. It feels like trans people are screaming as our rights are being taken away and no one is listening. I'm not saying cis people are ignoring us, but there simply isn't coverage or knowledge of what's happening - making me feel it's my responsibility to inform and educate people.

I'm aware this isn't healthy. I'm working on that.

Why do I write like I'm running out of time? Because I am scared, and writing feels like the only thing I can do that might, just maybe, make a difference. Because I still forget that I am allowed to step away, that however much this matters to me - personally and politically - I will be no help to anyone if I don't take care of myself first. Because I am young and foolish enough to feel like the entire weight of this pain is mine alone, and I have to remind myself that it is not.

I write like I'm running out of time because I'm still unlearning the lies the world tells us about what happens to trans people. I still have to remind myself that I do get to grow up, to thrive. I'll get there though: I have time.

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