it’s a simple question, right?
last week was one of the rare occasions that my body has need of a visit to my doctor. he always jokes that it’s been too long (usually two years lapse between times when my lupus affects me enough to require attention. there was a new nurse taking my blood pressure, temperature and jotting notes in my chart about the ‘reason for the visit today’, when toward the end of her intake interview with me she posed the following question:
do you feel safe at home?
i must’ve looked suddenly plexxed but managed to sputter out a confused “yes”, then shaking my head slightly, trying to imagine what the heck that was, i interrupted her notations and asked her why she’d asked the question.
she explained that they ask all of their ‘senior’ patients the same question, especially the women.
two things came to mind. the first was, “wow! i’m old!”
at fifty-seven years old i don’t expect to be carded for buying alcohol or asked for i.d. to purchase smokes. my long wavy hair is a nice silver color and since i don’t wear any make-up, none of the lines that crease my face are camoflauged. still, i’m not fragile in appearance. i smiled inwardly and felt proud that i’ve lived long enough to be recognised as a senior…an elder!
after all, i had a horribly misspent youth which included illicit substance abuse,opiates, intravenous even; a habit which haunts me to this day not because i’ve still any desire for heroin, but because i managed to contract hepatitus C as a result. truth be said, i never thought i’d live to see my hoary-haired golden years!
the nurse, as an addendum to her explanation that they ask all seniors that question asked if there was anyone else (besides my daughter and i) residing in the home. i knew without asking that this question, coming immediately on the heels of the ‘do you feel safe at home’. it was intended to suss out whether there was domestic abuse that might not be disclosed.
at this point, i answered her that it was only myself and zeeona. then i asked her if anyone ever answered the question ‘do you feel safe at home’ with a “no”.
she looked at me and said, “not even when they should.” a hint of regret in her tone.
after she left placing my file on the door, alone with my thoughts while waiting for the doctor, it occurred to me that there are many instances in which we of this ‘modern’ world don’t feel safe. that this is more true of lgbt and especially true of transgender children or youths.
not only do transgender people have to suffer the oppression of a society that really affords them no place, they must worry about discrimination, ostracism, assault and rape. tho some may feel safe at home, there’s a good chance that there are few other places where that can be said.
i have mentioned before that my friends who transitioned late in life, didn’t just wake up one day and decide that they were transgender, but rather lived with the knowledge of who they were and necessarily hid it from others. from their earliest childhood memories, they have felt fearful of revealing who they are, even or maybe especially ‘at home’.
they knew, either by trial and error, that certain sorts of behaviour wouldn’t be tolerated, that certain ‘notions’ had best not be spoken of.
a good friend of mine suffered beatings at an early age at the hands of his father, when he discovered his ‘son’ playing dress-up with his sister’s clothes. this friend knew he should’ve been a girl, but accepted that perhaps he was gay instead. neither option was allowed by his father, or even siblings. my friend was beaten either way. and disowned by his family.
did she feel safe at home?
there are many young trans people today who don’t ‘feel safe’ at home, whose parents wont support them and often disown them. these minors, not empowered to seek their own therapeutic remedy through the system, which requires parental consent for such things as hormonal treatments must often get black-market supplies. a dangerous alternative at times. many young trans people find themselves either ‘thrown out’ on the streets or running away from home because they don’t ‘feel safe’ there.
it seems to me of paramount importance that one feel safe at home. i’m not alone in this, and i know this is true because there so many more children these days that feel confident enough in the love of the people in their life, comfortable enough ‘at home’, to declare who they are. a generation ago not nearly as many transgender children were apparent, were out in the open. but if those who have only just transitioned as middle-aged adults are any indication, we can assume that there might well have been as many transgender children then, just terrified ones, ones scared out of believing in themselves, ones who waited until the could ‘feel safe’, to follow their own truth.
it’s a simple question…a good question…one that should be asked more frequently perhaps.
do you feel safe at home?