Here they come again, these cursed year-end celebrations!

Posted on December 31, 2016 by Ellen Defrancq

Please don’t get me wrong; I actually am quite crazy about this time of the year. I often get moved by a beautifully decorated Christmas tree, and on New Year’s Eve, the fireworks in our city usually inspire me to take a long night’s walk.

End of Year Festivities: difficult time for transgenders;
and yet … I experience anxiety every year because another trans sister might have taken her own life. The outside world recently seemed surprised when the suicide rate by transgender people in Belgium were announced. Nearly 80% have played with dark thoughts at some time in their lives. Even though our country is tops in the world regarding the rights to the rainbow community, this actually came as no surprise to me. Legislature may provide the most conclusive anti-discrimination law, but its influence is virtually zero in internal family relations and the corresponding exclusions.

Any trans woman or man sooner or later did a coming out, and believe me, that never expires without a fight. The Christmas period is a special family affair and sensitive issues such as sex change should preferably be avoided. Brother, son, husband or father has suddenly decided to permanently wear a dress and high heels. Just imagine … What a humiliation for the family! It might be better not to have “him” at the Christmas dinner.

In this type of decision the far-reaching consequences for the person concerned is never considered. For a transgender person, the most hurtful form of discrimination is being excluded by your own flesh and blood, let alone forever being branded a “failure in life”, and constantly having doors closed in your face. You need to be pretty hard-assed to be able to get over it.

It gets even more painful for those upon whom rules are imposed to remain sitting with the others at the table and who once again have to suppress their true identity. He/she would not be the first person unable to carry on playing such a hypocritical role, and who, rejected and lonely, crawls back into their own shell or prefers, at worst, to take their own life.

How do you bring some light into those dark December weeks, then?  Easier said than done. You have no choice, though, but disregard the damnation by your family and stick to the way you need to follow. The old adage says that time heals all wounds. Don’t bet on it! A total contact break may lead to alienation and to people growing apart. If you are concerned about your family, occasionally let them know you’re still alive. Do not be overly intrusive. A respectful public message on our Facebook page, for example, can work miracles. Allow them to retain their dignity without losing yours, and please remain who you are!

Yesterday I saw my neighbor across the street decorating his tree and suddenly I thought about how fast time runs. It was as if I had seen him breaking up the previous tree just a few weeks ago. Isn’t it a shame and a huge waste of time not to give not your own happiness a chance?


PS: Happy New Year to all “brothers and sisters”!

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