I have to admit that social interaction and communication are not my strongest points. This is a relatively new development for me, or so I thought. I used to think I was great at using my voice, at standing up for myself, at being in social situations. Today there are a number of barriers that prevent me from being effective in interpersonal communication. One of them is mental and emotional health issues. It’s really hard for me to connect with others when I don’t feel so great myself. Another is acute hearing loss, in both ears, coupled with tinnitus. And finally – and probably the most overwhelming for me, especially when it comes to asking for what I need and speaking up for myself, or saying no when being asked for something – I was raised in an environment that didn’t really encourage me to use my voice under any circumstances. In fact, it was preferred if I was invisible, or at least that’s how I translated it.
I am a 33 year old woman. I received a diagnosis about a year and a half ago of Borderline Personality Disorder. At first I didn’t really understand what it was. I thought, Isn’t what I have more serious than that? I was pretty sure I had something else, something more recognizable. Something I’d actually heard of, for instance. Turns out it’s serious enough. On top of the shitstorm of feelings and thoughts I have on a daily basis, professionals are reluctant to treat people with BPD. We’re notorious for being ‘hard to deal with’.
Over the past few years, I’ve worked hard to try to participate in activism that was relevant to my interests and identities, and also to recruit others into that activism. Trans folk, and trans women in particular, have long had an inclination and good reason to hide from society, to “go stealth” as we call it in the community. Societal pressures pushed us into a permanent closet that more closely resembled a mausoleum than the relative comfort of the closet. Our past was dead and our present remained cold and isolated, with few if any places we could reveal our history in a safe and confidential space.