I transitioned in 1990 when I was 18. Life was very difficult in those days especially for transgender people. There were many suicides within our community because there was no support or sense of community. Surviving was the main concern for us all in a world that rejected the very idea of the humanity of gender diverse people.
Imagine being in a world where employment was refused to you, your family cut ties with you, society rejected the essence of your identity, and mainstream spirituality condemned you to Hell because you were born.
This life of isolation sent many gender diverse people to end their lives all too soon. It was a ‘dog eat dog’ world where trans people would also bully each other to feel self-worth about themselves. People can be cruel when they are jealous, insecure or feel powerless.
I too felt that isolation and damnation and wanted to die. I too thought I had nothing to live for. My strong Christian beliefs stopped me from ending my life, but I wanted to die, especially when the shadows of depression descended upon me when I turned 21. I had reached a milestone and nobody celebrated. I could not see an end to the discrimination and I had no emotional support from family or community.
My deep-rooted stubbornness gave me the strength to wade through while many others who transitioned at the same time began to take their own lives – I would estimate that only 10% of the transgender women I knew in 1990 are still alive. Not all of them committed suicide – some of them accidentally overdosed on drugs and others were murdered or died from HIV and organ failure.
Nowadays, I am well loved and respected within my community and by my peers. Looking from the outside my life would probably be described as blessed. But the real triumph of my story is I survived three decades. It is a life that I created for myself. I created my own employment as a gender diversity consultant, my own networks and I created my own niche in the world.
There was no destiny already waiting for me created by others – I would not have known this if I had ended my life at 21. I am so very blessed to have survived.
Happiness is a transient and temporary emotion. It is as changeable as the weather. I have learnt it is an impossible rainbow to chase. I have also learnt that contentment gives me the strength to carry on with life.
I have found contentment to be my constant companion to see me through, whether happy, sad, angry or chilled I am always content – because I am Katherine, and my pronoun is SHE.
Visit Katherine’s website at https://www.wolfgramme.com/
Go in peace and reach out for help if you are thinking of suicide.
Hours: 24 hours, 7 days a week
Phone: 13 11 14
Or contact your GP, local emergency mental health service or present yourself at the emergency department of your local hospital.