My name was Abby Mary Stansel. I was a fifteen year old girl from Connecticut. I was autistic. I had anxiety and PTSD. I was in hiding.
My name is Ashton Maryn Stansel. I am a fifteen year old transgender boy from Connecticut. I am autistic. I have anxiety and PTSD. And I am not afraid anymore.
Here is my story. I am a fifteen years old and autistic. I am also a transgender boy with anxiety and PTSD symptoms caused by the severe bullying I experienced for years. I am not the way I am because I am transgender. However, I will not deny that being transgender does sometimes exacerbate these conditions, especially the PTSD.
Being a Trans person in this world is hard. For many of us, each day is a struggle: a decision between being who we want to be and who society demands us to be. And this internal struggle, this constant battle within our souls, can leave us exhausted and broken down. We struggle constantly with dysphoria. Dysphoria is considered in the mental illness community as something which only affects people in the sense that they see their bodies differently than they actually are, such as people with eating disorders. Dysphoria as a Trans guy however, is spending every minute knowing my body prohibits me from being who I am. I see my body as it is. It’s just not me. And while neither is better or worse, we as a society need to talk more about this. We don’t seem to understand that people don’t always identify with their given bodies. And that’s ok.
But there are many, many situations in which the public opinion on Transgender individuals causes more pain than most cisgender (people who identify as the gender they were assigned at birth) people can imagine. All of the current fighting and combat around issues involving transgender people makes things worse. And the people who are not being heard at all is the community of transgender people who have mental illnesses. People who are anti-trans like to insist being transgender is a mental illness (which it is not) and people who are pro-trans understand it isn’t. However, they miss the important part of this, that just because someone is transgender–which is not a mental illness–doesn’t mean that in some regard it doesn’t cause them trauma. And that causes anxiety.
For me, having anxiety is like being told every single thing in the world whichcould go wrong is going wrong, and that thought playing in my head over and over. And when you are a transgender person, every single thing that can go wrong tends to be pretty bad. If you look in the media, over 40 percent of Trans people have tried to commit suicide. Not because being trans is a mental condition, but because we are so badly perceived and stigmatized. And there is also a constant threat of physical or psychological abuse. This causes so much anxiety. And this anxiety causes fear. Fear that every person on the street will murder me. Which leaves me unable to move or even to think.
I shouldn’t have to feel this way. Because I am person like everyone else. I am not a statistic. I am not a problem. I am not a political agenda or a plaything. I am human. That is the sole thing I am. Human.
So, to every person, male or female, young or old, within or without the LGBT community who struggles with anxiety and fear, I have a request for you. Take a minute. Tell yourself, “I am worth it. I am not a mistake. I am not what they call me.” Sometimes, when I am having a day where the people at school are treating me badly, I repeat this to myself. Over and over. Because I promise. You are. And eventually, it sticks.