Family is everything to me. Without the support and love from my family I would not be where I am today. Growing up, my mother, father, and two siblings were as tight knit as you could get, we did everything together. The love my parents shared was as unconditional as the love they showed us, the kids; there was nothing they would not do for us. My younger brother and I have always been close, as children we played, laughed, and cried, together, we remain to this day the definition of best friends. My sister and I also share a close relationship. As the older brother I feel it is my responsibility to look after and my siblings, and to set an example for them. This sense of responsibility I have developed is what defines me today; I know for a fact that without younger siblings to care for and loving parents I would be selfish human being.
In recent years, my family has broken down; my mother walked out on us last spring and we have struggled ever since. In this past year I have learned more and more what I truly care about. I care about my brother and sister; I want them to continue to pursue their hopes and dreams. I care about my father, and I wish him nothing but happiness. It is because I care about my family that I will not lose my faith or my drive to succeed in life, I will endure.
As a female-to-male transsexual, I am a member of a highly marginalized and often misunderstood gender-creative community. The transgender community has one of the highest suicide attempt rates of any marginalized group - a fact I find unacceptable. While statistics specific to Canada are difficult to find due to lack of research in this area, a community-based research project in Ontario determined that 43% of the transgender individuals they surveyed in that province reported attempting suicide. This is in line with findings from the US National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. The US task force found that of the 7,000 transgender people they surveyed, 41% had attempted suicide at least once. I have personally experienced the suicide of loved ones and have myself grappled with suicidal thoughts as a result of the losses I have faced due to my transgender identity. My goal is to tell my story and raise awareness about this silent epidemic. While this community is gaining increased visibility thanks to celebrities like Chaz Bono, Laverne Cox, Buck Angel, Jenna Talackova, Lana Wachowski and Chelsea Manning, to name just a few, many in this community continue to face rejection from their families, employers, friends, and communities simply for who they are. This needs to stop. No one deserves to die for who they are.
What I really care about is people, connection, friendship. I lived in many different Countries and I always found a "new family", but here in Vancouver surrounded by people I found silence. A silence that comes from loneliness, distance between each other and fear. No one looks at each other in the street, in the elevator, in the skytrain. I was standing in the street in downtown, I stopped, everything was going so fast around me and I just wanted to scream, to shout...I realised I don't want to be dried out or tamed but that silence, this is not me, is not how I like to live my life. People are afraid to communicate, to say something wrong. It is so intense when you come across someone in the street and your eyes meet for a brief second, a smile makes us part of the same world, our lives touch, those seconds make me feel so warm. Some days those moments keep me going, keep me believing in people, in friendship, make me believe that soon someone will break their rules and connect with me again. If only we were able to take the chance to find our voices again, cry out our fears, welcoming someone new, we could change so many lives without medicine.
I am deeply involved in learning and sharing compassionate communication (or nonviolent communication) and interpersonal neurobiology with others as a way to improve the quality of connection and understanding with myself, my friends and the larger community. Being able to identify my emotional reactions and the needs or values that drive them help me communicate more clearly with others, especially when I develop an understanding of how language impacts us. In addition, beginning to learn about the function of our brain and nervous system as a socially influenced whole deepens that understanding and communication with others (or myself). In a supportive, knowledgeable community I can help change the way my brain processes information, so I am making conscious choices instead of unconscious reactions. I can literally build my brain’s functioning to become more whole and integrated. For me, the experience of real connection, trust, love and community was shut down early in my life, and only reawakened and continues to grow as l learn and practice compassionate communication and bring empathy to old memories I experienced as traumatic. To learn that I matter, and belong, and that contributing and supporting others also meets my needs has been transformative, and I want to share this experience with others.