When I made the decision to come out publicly, it was not done lightly. I had attempted to come out back in the 90’s and was beaten back. This time, I had the support of my wife. After the initial shock, Cindy turned to me and told me that we are going to do this and this time there is no turning back this time. With her support, I set up a plan and moved forward.
I have to admit that I did have a lot of fear in doing so. The time before, I lost everything. I lost my marriage, my job, finances, and limited access to my kids. I had even started HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) and electrolysis. After I lost my job, I struggled greatly. As unemployment was running out, I made the conscious decision to just conform. I gave up who I was in order to be able to get a job to support my kids, and to regain the support of my family. I went back to being the person everyone wanted me to be, though admonished by my psychologist that this was not a good idea and that it would resurface. In the end, you just have to be who you are, not what everyone else wants you to be.
She was right. It took the death of a friend to slap me in the face with reality and that my whole life was lived by others rules. I was never happy and lived in and out of perpetual depression. When my friend died, I decided that I could not put my wife through this and that I would devise a plan to take my life without impacting the beautiful place that we now lived and the dreams we had of operating an alpaca farm. I spiraled down and got in darker and darker places. I finally figured that I would find poisonous mushrooms and go deep into the Fall River/Freetown State Forest, far from the farm, ingest the mushrooms and just lay against a tree and wait for the earth to take me. Cindy had other ideas.
Cindy kept pressing and I finally broke down in tears about who I really was and how I felt the best thing was for me to off myself. Naturally, this all came as a shock. Cindy did know that I had issues and has seen a psychologist. When I went to tell her years ago, she stopped me and told me that I was with her now and we would work through anything. I came to learn what an amazing woman she was.
After a few days dealing with the shock, she told me that we were going to do this. I went back into counseling and eventually restarted HRT. Cindy was backing me 100%. She even told me that she liked the new me. I no longer had a cloud over me and seemed much happier. We devised a plan and timetable and went to work. One thing I chose, was to be public about it. Over the many years, I had done my research. I knew that the suicide rate was over 40% for transgender people. I went public because that was who I was. I needed to shine a light and educate. Years ago, my Cherokee friends gifted me the name of Unega Waya (White Wolf). In their tradition, the wolf was seen as a pathfinder and teacher. The saw that I always shared that which I learned with others to bring them better understand and maybe even pave the way.
I just want to repeat, the suicide rate for transgender people is over 40%. I can imagine, given the current administration’s negative view of the LGBT community, that number could go up. As a matter of fact, I recently posted on Facebook about a fifteen year old who just took their life. This number needs to come down. That is why I chose to be public.
I realize that being public could put a target on my back. It is a risk I chose. Yet, I have to admit, that I have had little to no negative reaction. What I did find was that others reached out to me. With almost 28,000 respondents, the U.S. Transgender Survey (USTS) showed that there were a lot of transgender people out there. One thing I have found, is that by being public, people reach out to me. I know of three instances, since announcing publicly, that people have approached me. In some cases, they had a personal relation. In other cases, it was a niece or nephew and the wanted to understand. In the spirit of the wolf, I took these opportunities to teach. Just this past week, as I was being zapped by my electrologist, she asked me if there were any counselors or groups in my area. She had a client who had a niece who was transitioning but needed the support. I gave her the number and address of my counselor. I can only hope it makes a difference.
As some of you may know, I have been a counselor myself, as a Youth Minister for the Diocese of Providence. I learned from that experience that sometimes you can affect a life in a positive way without realizing it. That is my hope here. I hope to be a light. A beacon to other transgender people who are struggling. There is hope! Never give up! One thing I learned from the Buddhist, all life is sacred. So please, please, if you are transgender. If you need to reach out and talk to someone. Please, reach out to me. All life is sacred. It is a sad state to hear that there is a suicide rate of over 40%. If some way, I can help to lower that number, then all I have done to be as public as possible, was worth it. If I can save but one life, then I will feel I have done what I was put here to do. Though, two, three, four, or even 40% of lives would be better.
I don’t claim to have all the answers. I can only hope to steer people to the right resources. Please, if you are transgender, make suicide the last thing in your mind. I once thought that it was the only solution. I am now living full time. I am Emma Morgaine Croft!!! I am alive! Never give up. Know that you are not alone. This administration may force some to go back into hiding but we already have the increasing numbers. As more and more come out, we will gain those strength in numbers. We will overcome hate and ignorance. In the words of my Cherokee brothers and sisters, Stiyu!! Be strong!!
My heart to your heart, one heart, one spirit.
Emma Morgaine Croft