Opinion

It’s time to stop tolerating stigma – our lives depend on it

Content note: this article discusses suicide and mental illness.

I have too many dead friends. 

I am tired to my absolute bones from talking other queer and trans folks down from ledges, not always successfully, maybe not successfully forever.

We don’t always talk about it, but I think maybe a lot of us are having these conversations with each other all the time.

I work with LGBTIQA+ people who are going through crises. They’ve been assaulted, gone through relationship breakdowns, faced legal or financial problems, rejection. 

It doesn’t end when I leave the office. Sometimes it feels like I always have a person or two in the back of my mind to keep an eye on, whether it’s a loved one or a casual friend from social media.

LGBTIQA+ people are hugely more likely to attempt or consider suicide.

We are more likely to have a mental illness, including being more than six times as likely to have depression.

Trans people and bi people are among the hardest hit in the mental health outcome statistics. 

I’ve more than once woken up to see a queer friend’s relative has posted on their social media that they have died by suicide, and it’s a fucking gut punch.

But I probably don’t have to tell you that. I’d be surprised if many people in the community haven’t experienced the same.

I wish I had the words to change it all, stop the world from hurting us. I wish there were one simple answer.

Life shouldn’t be harder for queer and trans people, but it can be, largely because of how we’re treated.

There’s no one answer to ending suffering and suicide, but I can think of something we can do better, at least.

Don’t let conservatives and transphobes and queerphobes talk shit about us like we’re not people. 

Especially if you’re someone with any privilege – a white person, a man, a cis person – open your mouth and shut those people down.

I don’t do it enough myself. I’m trying to be better.

It can be a lecture if you’re brave, or maybe a stern silence if you’re not, but we have to stop tolerating the stigmas that are still killing people.

Not one person in our community should have to feel alone, like they don’t belong, that people are disgusted by them, that nobody will want them.

Nobody should think that they would be better dead. No one should be pushed past the point where they can’t see that things can get better.

Don’t let people play devil’s advocate about the lives of LGBTIQA+ people. The devil has enough advocates.

If you or someone you know needs support, you can refer to our list of Australian community services and resources.

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