April 15th, 2009
By Monica F. Helms
Original blog found HERE
(This is the 3rd and final installment in the “Stuck in . . . ” series.)
We all know that loneliness does not limit itself to LGB or T people. This feeling probably strikes 100% of the human population at one time of another, many living in perpetual loneliness for most of their lives. A person can feel lonely because they have no one special in their life who loves them. Others can be lonely in a crowd of people who do love them. A majority of people don’t go out of their way to choose to be lonely, yet some do. But, loneliness goes out of its way to chooses us.
Even though the feeling of loneliness does not differ between LGBT people and straight people, the causes can be different. If we can believe the figures for the number of LGBT people in the population, between 5% and 10%, then that means that there would be far less LGBT people in the world to find your special someone from. Of course, bisexual people have more numbers to choose from, as do straight transgender people. If an LGBT person lives in a rural area, their chances become zero in many cases. However, numbers alone don’t keep people from feeling lonely.
Loneliness in the lesbian community is such a large issue that it generated a joke. When two lesbians fall in love, one quickly rents a U-Haul so they can move in together. It might seem funny, if it didn’t have its basis in reality. For gay men, you’ll find dozens of cruising bars in large cities to accommodate their need to cure loneliness, even if it’s for just one night. Everyone tries to cope the best they can, but loneliness keeps its own time.
I find the Religious Right’s obsession with gay people having sex is such a far fetch and ridiculous notion. I imagine that these people happen to be so sexually repressed and lonely that they can’t stand it when someone else enjoys themselves more than they do. But, the myth of gay people having sex all the time happens to be far different in reality, otherwise the term “bed death” would not have been coined and used in the LGBT community. Bed death happens to couples who have been together for a long time, but have long since stopped having sex. I can tell you from my previous experience as a straight married man, it happens to straight people as much as LGBT people.
In the LGBT community, loneliness causes a higher incident of smoking and drinking, since the “cure” for loneliness is supposed to be found in a bar, or so some think. When a person needs to conquer their loneliness for one night, they might have unprotected sex as the result, which will lead to many other problems. Some have even taken their own lives because of depression from loneliness. I guess with unprotected sex and suicide, we can easily say that loneliness kills.
I want to focus on what causes trans people to become stuck in loneliness. What I have seen and want to address has happened to some trans people, but not all of them. Some have a multitude of reasons to feel lonely. The biggest would be the stigma from society that we are somehow not “real” men or women.
Some straight women and some gay men may not want to date a trans man because he doesn’t have a penis, or at least not a functional one. Some straight men and some lesbians would not want to date a pre-op MtF because they still have a penis. And then, there are some straight men and lesbians who won’t date any transsexual woman, regardless of surgical status, because they still consider them men. The existence of a penis at birth is all that matters to them and the rest of that person’s life or personality doesn’t. One easily sees that when it comes to romance, many trans people can find themselves facing loneliness.
Loneliness comes in other forms for trans people. Being rejected by family members can be devastating to many trans people, but gay, lesbian and bisexual people also face this very same loneliness. I experienced it myself. It took seven and half years to become accepted by all of my family members, but my father had to die before that happened. Yet, I’m one of the lucky ones.
Other forms of rejection can cause loneliness, such as losing long-time friends after starting transition or coming out, which I also experienced. And, losing work friends and have others harass you at work, even though your company allowed you to keep your job. Yep, I had that happen, too. All of these made me feel lonely at one time or another, but I got over it. Sadly, others don’t.
Another cause for loneliness is not seen as loneliness by some trans people. Body dysphoria causes many to avoid intimacy until their body fits their mind. The feeling of an incongruent body becomes a real and viable reason for a trans person to remain alone. Some trans women even refuse to touch their penis, except with a wash cloth. Once they have surgery, for the most part, they become happier and end up with enjoyable love lives.
Other trans people never get over their loneliness, even after all of their surgeries. Some start transition thinking that life would magically become better after surgery, regardless of how many people told them differently. They spend all of their time and effort making sure they reach their goal that they had no time or energy left learning how to socialize in their new gender. I see this more in trans women then trans men.
Some of these trans women never learn the skills socializing as a woman and decide that being lonely is much easier than learning those skills. Some even become bitter and lash out at others, blaming them for their loneliness. Socializing with others takes the edge off of loneliness, but it may not fully remove it. I play in an all-women’s pool league to help take the edge off of my loneliness. It’s the highlight of my week, even if I lose. (But, I don’t like losing.)
Loneliness can be a debilitating feeling that causes depression, isolation and in some cases, death. I feel it is one of the least known human feelings, but one that therapist have spent a lot of time talking about. Loneliness hits every individual for different reasons and at different intensities. However, it can be conquered. Some cases, the “cure” takes a lot of work to overcome. If you are without friends, then an effort has to be made to bring new people in your life. If you just broke up with someone, then go through the grieving process, but keep hope alive. If your family has rejected you, then don’t cut off communications, or you can make a new family with close friends. No matter how loneliness has taken a hold of your heart, its grip can be broken. Time is usually the answer.
For me, I hold out hope that she is out there, waiting to pry the loneliness from my heart. I just know she’s there, waiting to prevent me from being stuck in loneliness.