I just read Ann Cvetkovich’s An Archive of Feelings, which is really interesting and is getting me into trauma theory but also has gross stuff like lengthy discussion of Mich Fest without any acknowledgment that Mich Fest is transmisogynistic and pretty reductive discussion of how transness relates to the butch/femme dynamic in Stone Butch Blues.
But it’s mostly about archives and history and witnessing, and that stuff I love. Cvetkovich talks about various narratives of care, work, and witnessing by lesbian women involved in caring for people with AIDS during the 1980s. It reminds me of being a teenager and watching other trans teenagers die or almost die. Witnessing, communal trauma, sometimes discussed, mostly not, only discussed in certain spaces, only speakable in the most dryly academic or disproportionately rhetorical of ways.
I just have no idea how to talk about this stuff in public space at all. I think it’s murder and I think it’s premeditated murder and I don’t know where or how I should be mourning it or raging against it or avenging it.
I think that when white trans guys take up space in TDOR it’s this kind of murder they’re trying to talk about, but they can’t name it because at best everyone’s decided to pretend that it isn’t murder. At worst, everyone’s decided to pretend that trans teenagers are not dying or going through traumatic mental health related near death experiences. So white trans guys appropriate something else as though it had to do with them. And it’s a racist transmisogynist disaster.
This post is a cry for assistance? Help me think?
[preemptive apologies about hijacking the post to make it all about what happened to me but I am still trying to make sense of this experience and am really glad that there is public acknowledgement that this shit happens? and maybe if enough individual people share our adventures in undeath then we can find solutions that will help us all?]
To clarify: this post is about trans suicides induced by external denial of validation/resources/autonomy, right?
Cause if so, then that interpretation makes SO MUCH SENSE re what happened to me. It’s so clarifying to suddenly see it as, yes, this was attempted murder. But then it opens up a lot of new questions. For instance idk if it’s even right to call an action “(attempted) murder” (in this informal context; not getting into legal definitions here) when the agent does not believe it will kill or even harm the person affected. Alternatively, one could view the agent as cis society as a whole, which seems fitting but then wtf do you do on an individual level? How do you stop people from being murdered by parents/family/society through a denial of any transition-related resources? Greater access to informed consent programs, free legal aid, stuff like that maybe? But I was not lacking in things like that, and I still wound up in the hospital. And I’m sure I’m not alone in that experience. Preventing abusive family dynamics? Mine isn’t the typical household referred to by that phrase, and like 90% of the battle is getting myself to believe the dynamic was abusive at all (which I gather is a very common thing for people who have suffered abuse, esp. emotional abuse). Maybe the only solution that would universally cover cases like this would be a wider support network for trans youth outside of family, outside of conventional structures. That is probably a flawed idea in some way or other too, but I can’t find any holes in it at the moment.
UPDATE: some words from the inimitable missdorotheabrooke:
“When the extermination of an essential identity leads someone to kill themselves, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to call it murder.
I’d call it murder if you gaslit someone so thoroughly that they came to believe that chugging bleach was part of a balanced breakfast.”