The Transgender Community: Safety and Self Care

Transgender self care and safety

This week in Atlanta Georgia, there was another senseless death of a transgender woman.  I thought about that a lot this week.  It struck me because it was so close to home in Decatur, GA.  It struck me because there wasn’t a lot of press surrounding it.  I decided  I wanted to blog this week on keeping yourself safe if you are a part of the transgender or gender non-conforming community.  While I have advice and ideas, I decided to reach out to someone who is transgender that I respect greatly.  Cierra Ray, who spends her time both tirelessly working and being and activist for transgender rights throughout the nation was kind enough to help me tackle this critical issue.

Self Care from Cierra Ray

Cierra Ray writes “I’m just passing my 3.5 year mark of hormones, coming out, transition etc.. My life has changed a lot. My friends, my diet, work hours, work types, and I have started volunteering. I feel that the first 2 years of transition is a morning phase, especially for us who lived a completely different lifestyle for whatever reason. Not only was this a big change for me, but everything and everyone around me has changed as well.

Work, school, volunteering, trying to organize and march, to do anything I could do to help the Trans community not be shafted was on my agenda. The only way I personally could do this was my progress in sobriety and counseling.

I had plenty of meltdowns and I still need a lot of support. We must learn to take care of ourselves. We need to eat right, see our therapist, take care of our additions(if any), sleep enough and take care of our immediate needs. If we do not take care of ourselves, we will end up suicidal or homeless or both very easily.

Make it a priority: from Cierra Ray

Now I have learned to be more of an entrepreneur because jobs are hard to get even for Cisgender people. The point is, I have learned how to survive being Trans with no college degree. Self-care is how I have achieved this, now that we have transitioned it is the highest most priority to see a doctor regularly, visit your therapist, eat right and sleep enough. I have learned I can’t help anyone if I can’t help myself. I can’t work on these difficult relationships or create new ones if I’m not in top shape. I work around 60 hours a week and it’s because I can implement self-care.

I urge all trans people to make self-care a priority. As there have been 16 reported trans murders in the United States, I’m not saying self-care would have saved them, but we never know if it would have helped them be more aware and more responsible of their surroundings and activities. Also, nothing can justify these acts of violence, but any little thing helps”.

Safety in the community

In addition, at all the real-world advice Cierra wrote for this blog, I wanted to add some other safety points.  When you are going out at night, try to know your safe places, especially if you are going out alone. I know many people that have their own brief list of places in Atlanta that they know they feel safer at and over time, you will find your own too.  Reach out to the community and ask others where they feel most accepted and do not feel harassed.

If you are feeling unsafe or uncomfortable going out or presenting in your preferred gender, try to find a meet-up group or social group within the community for planned dinners or activities.  Or, go out with your close friends that are accepting and love you for you. Just like all people, be aware of your surroundings.  Know your own neighborhood, use GPS when traveling so you don’t get lost in an unfamiliar area. If you are alone, try to be home at a time there is still activity in your neighborhood, or call a trusted friend while driving on the way back to where you are going.

Wrapping it up

The fact is, I shouldn’t have had to write this blog this week.  There shouldn’t be any special tips for staying safe if you are transgender or gender non-conforming.  There shouldn’t need to be fear in the community to be yourself.  But, it’s better to be more prepared than not.  If Cierra Ray or I have missed any other tips for self-care or safety, please feel free to add them in the comments.

 

One thought on “The Transgender Community: Safety and Self Care”

  1. Rachel Marie says:

    From above. You said in the last paragraph:

    “The fact is, I shouldn’t have had to write this blog this week. There shouldn’t be any special tips for staying safe if you are transgender or gender non-conforming. There shouldn’t need to be fear in the community to be yourself.”

    It’s true, you shouldn’t have had to write this blog, but it’s a scary fact of life. Remember, each loss hurts all of us: what could she have done to stay safe; was she too trusting. All sorts of questions to which we’ll never know the answers come to mind.

    A few suggestions:
    Don’t go out alone, travel with a friend.
    Meet a blind date in public, not in private.
    Never, ever take someone home you don’t know. Don’t go home with someone you don’t know.
    Be honest up front. They may walk away, but that’s OK … their loss, not yours.
    Learn basic self-defense (your car keys are great brass knuckles).
    Pay attention to everything in “Safety in the Community” above.

    Finally, above all … be aware of your surroundings.

    I’ve been on HRT since 2 Jun 2017; today is 29 Aug 2017. My hair is longer than it’s ever been and I’m a natural platinum blond (read that as a silver back). I shaved my beard 5 months ago; I had had it since 1993. I’ve never felt so calm. Granted everything isn’t perfect, I have and will always have PTSD. But, I’m becoming who I should have been many years ago. Funny, but I feel kind of like a monarch caterpillar. We have milkweed in front of our home and I saw a monarch caterpillar yesterday. I feel changes in my body and oddly, I imagine myself as a monarch caterpillar becoming a butterfly; I’m going through radical changes to become who I need to be.

    Hugs, Rachel Marie xoxo

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