A few months ago, my mother-in-law, the marvelous Susan Conforte-McNeill of Susan Said…What?!, steered me towards an advertisement asking for sources related to Trans* mental health and transition. It was posted by a journalist named Katherine Schreiber, and she was writing an article for Psychology Today magazine in which she wanted to combat the fallacy that Trans* people are simply more prone to having serious mental health issues (y’know…cuz we’re so fucked up in the head and all…duh.) I jumped at the chance to volunteer, and I was lucky enough to catch her attention. After a few emails back and forth, an interview date was set, and I anxiously awaited our phone call.
When the interview finally happened, I was so at ease with Ms. Schreiber that I felt like I was chatting with a new friend. She was so gracious and kind, but didn’t make me feel delicate. She asked questions that didn’t make me feel like I was being picked apart for the gory and emotional details, but more so that she shared a vested interest in sharing in layman’s terms what made my mind tick, tick, tick. It was a conversation between two people: one with a story, and one with a desire to share that story with people who don’t have the opportunity to ask.
You can read the article, titled “Why Transgender People Experience More Mental Health Issues” by clicking the link. It begins:
“Individuals who identify as transgender tend to experience higher rates of mental health issues than the general population. While approximately 6.7 percent of the general United States population suffers from depression and 18 percent grapple with some iteration of an anxiety disorder, nearly half of all individuals who identify as transgender experience these issues. What’s more, over 41 percent of trans men and women are estimated to have attempted suicide — a rate that’s nearly nine times as high as the rate of cisgender Americans.
What underlies this astonishingly elevated rate of mental health issues? According to a study published in the July 2016 edition of The Lancet offers significant evidence that the “distress and impairment, considered essential characteristics of mental disorders” among transgender individuals primarily arises in response to the discrimination, stigma, lack of acceptance, and abuse they face on an unfortunately regular basis.”
The rest of the article digs down into the individual fragments of discrimination and its effect on the human psyche, and Ms. Schreiber expressed my views and the emotions of her other sources with clarity and triumph. If you want to check out her plethora of work, you can start here with her personal site. Also check out her book The Truth About Exercise Addiction: Understanding the Dark Side of Thinspiration. She writes for many other media outlets, such as Cosmopolitan and TIME. You can also check out her twitter, LinkedIn, etc!
I am forever grateful to anyone who takes the time to reach out to those who are different and bring their struggles into the light. Thank you, Katherine, and I wish you all the best.