Allyship Is a Lifelong Exercise of Graciousness

Trans Pride Flag Laurie Raye
Photo Credit: Trans Pride Flag, Laurie Raye

Perhaps I’ve been too quiet about my recovery process, because upon venturing back into ‘real life’ I’ve had people completely shocked that I’m still recovering.

“Didn’t you have surgery ages ago?” is a summation of the comments I’ve been getting, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to let y’all know a bit of what my life has been like the past few months.

Here’s Where I’m At

Yes, I had my seventh gender affirming surgery at the end of August (not including office procedures). I was on partial bed rest for over a month, and until less than three weeks ago I had a suprapubic catheter. If you don’t know what that is, look it up, or trust me that it’s completely awful. I’m on my seventh infection since surgery, and am also dealing with a few barriers to activities of daily living, which are probably inappropriate for me to discuss on this platform.

I’m considered temporarily disabled to the extent that I’ve been accepted into vocational rehabilitation, so the county is trying to find me work that I can do while I undergo more surgery in 2020. Meanwhile, every week I spend about 6.5 hours in some therapy or another.

My best weeks include regular walks, baking projects, and trips to the gym. My worst weeks, like this holiday weekend, include urgent care visits, enough pills to make a dismal meal, and video games.

I don’t want anyone to worry. Eventually, I will make a full recovery. However, if I could offer some advice? Please don’t act shocked if people aren’t feeling better than you would expect them to feel. It doesn’t matter what they are going through, if it’s acute or chronic, physical or mental. Personally, when I heard those comments, I felt my best wasn’t good enough and I wondered why I even bothered to get out of bed, even though I knew it wasn’t anyone’s intention for me to feel that way.

It Hasn’t Been Easy

When I first came out as trans, I had a lot of problems with my family. During that time, I had over half my friends on Facebook unfollow me, I’m guessing because my comments got too emotionally draining for people. My struggles also made some people angry. I had many parents vocally upset I wasn’t more understanding of my own parents during those times, so I’ve stopped publicly talking about how my family has responded to my transition.

I’m not upset people needed to unplug from situations they felt were draining. We all have limited emotional energy and if we don’t take care of ourselves, how can we take care of others? However, I am challenging those who consider themselves allies to make the lifelong effort to allow minorities to publicly, messily, struggle, and to give them grace and compassion as they make their way in the world.

The backlash I received on Facebook is why I haven’t been more forthcoming about my recovery process, but I shouldn’t have to feel as if I’m not measuring up because not everyone knows every detail of what I’m going through. No one is entitled to this information–I’m sharing for those who want to be good allies, and for those who may be struggling and are seeking solace or solutions.

We Need You

If you are serious about being a good ally, keep in mind you are not entitled to know everything someone is going through, and you probably won’t understand many aspects of a trans person’s life. To be a good ally, your understanding is not required. If you can, listen. If you can’t, at least try to be sensitive to a person’s struggles, and be welcoming when someone makes an effort to behave in a manner more socially acceptable to whatever norms you are accustomed to.

Being an ally is a lifelong exercise in grace, and we need you. Thank you for this kindness.

Love,
Ben

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *