Avoiding Transgender Suicide

Robin Lynn Frank

In the aftermath of the tragic death of a seventeen year old transgender girl, Leelah Alcorn, a hashtag appeared on Twitter, #RealLiveTransAdult.  It was meant to reach out to transgender youth that their were people they could talk to who would help them realize they had a future.  Perhaps that dialogue needs to be expanded.

A transgender woman in her mid thirties had been on HRT for several months and had reached the point of having to wear her business suit at all times, lest the effect of the hormones she was taking became obvious.  Despite worries about what might happen, she elected to tell the company’s president that she planned to transition, the following February.  To her surprise, he expressed support and took it upon himself to let the rest of the staff know what was going to happen.  He handled that task, so well, that at the company Christmas party, she received gifts appropriate to her true gender.

At the end of the first week of January, just three weeks prior to her planned transition, she was terminated with no explanation.  That shocked her, but she was determined and began her transition as planned.   To conserve her finances, she transitioned where she was living.  With few exceptions, she was shunned by her neighbors.  Additionally, she began to realize that she was now without a work history that she could place on a resume.

Over the next few months her view of the future became more and more bleak.  One afternoon, she sat down on the side of her bed and took a loaded revolver out of the nightstand.  For the next twenty minutes, she searched for reasons not to squeeze the trigger, but found none.  A thought came to her, unbidden, that when her body was discovered, the scene would be horrific.  She did not want anyone to be put through that, because of what she did.  Slowly, she put the gun back in the drawer.

In the months that ensued, a friend, seeing that the environment in which she was living, was far too toxic to be endured, offered to let her stay with her, in New York City.  There, she was able to concentrate on creating a job history that enable her to find work.  Since that time, she has worked in the fashion industry, advertising industry, for a printer, a commercial real estate firm and several software developers.  Thirty-eight years after wanting to end her life, she is still with us and is happily retired.

Until now, I’ve left something out of the above narrative.  What I have recounted, actually happened, beginning in November, 1976 and the woman I have written about, is me.  For me, this is a very personal issue that needs to be addressed.  What I hope this illustrates, to those who cannot see a bright future, is that it really is there and you can have it.  It may not be easy, but some chance to live a life you can enjoy and be glad you have, is certainly better than none.  It also illustrates the need to surround yourself with those who care about you and will help when needed.  They will feel the worse for losing you and much better in the knowledge that you are still with them and that they helped you when needed.

As a community, we are best when we are all standing.  If you know someone is faltering, please help them.  We will all be better for it.

Robin Lynn Frank

I am a trans woman, born in 1943. Transitioned in 1977, I Have lived on both coasts and places in between. I'm in the process of writing an autobiography and have written articles, calling attention to crimes against trans people. Anything else you need to know, feel free to ask.

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