Children in Prisons
You don’t get to drive people to their death and absolve yourself of guilt.
Throughout the course of my life, I have no recollection of having ever eaten Veal. Having become tuned into the horror of raising Veal so late in my life, I am grateful for that. For those who don’t know, Veal consists of typically a male cow being deprived of its mother early in life, then raised for a short time almost entirely in confinement. The restricted moment makes the animals’ meat tougher and redder. The animal has this horrific existence for no more than 16–18 weeks before it is slaughtered.
Why am I bringing this up? Because many people turn a blind eye to the horrors in this world. But is it an individual's deliberate insensitivity, or is this just the byproduct of ignorance? As I said, I don’t recall ever eating veal, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t. If I have, I am so sorry that my doing so ever caused this level of suffering.
The point of this is that if anyone had to witness a newborn calf being taken from its mother and crated till nearly the day of its slaughter; most people would be so horrified they’d have no desire to eat that animal. To be an active participant in that would be nothing short of sociopathic.
Now, I know you’re scratching your head wondering what does this have to do with being Transgender? No, worries; there is an analogy cooking, so please bear with me.
Those of us in the LGBTQ community have known who we are for most of our lives. And it’s safe to say that the vast majority of us lived a portion of our lives in the closet. In this, we can see a mental form of confinement that’s not dissimilar to being trapped in a Veal crate. Sure, the concept breaks down when you see one being as physically confined, while another is emotionally confined. But it’s all a prision; and no prison is beneficial to the common good when innocents are the inmates.
Where mankind sees it’s dominion over animalkind as being permitted in religious doctrine, so too does mankind use religious doctrine to hold dominion over another’s core being. The same level of sociopathy exists in both scenarios. If those who so aptly use their own interpretation of faith to keep us confined to our closets actually had the ability to feel the mental anguish they inflict, they would likely be unable to continue to do so.
Keeping LGBTQ people in the closet is no different than ensuring the abattoir has no windows. The same reasoning behind the hidden torture of an animal is henceforth applied to humans. We are made to feel shame about ourselves from a very young age, and we learn to bury that anguish deep in the hopes of never being discovered. This is a course which has only a handful of outcomes, and most of which are a means of delivering those individuals to an entirely different slaughterhouse.
First and foremost are the self-destructive tendencies. Individuals may seek release in the form of cutting, burning, eating disorders, and other types of self harm. But more common coping mechanisms lean toward dependencies. This is something I have dealt with first hand. Besides forays into self-harm, my first addiction was food. As I became an adult I became addicted to alcohol. All were means of dealing with my gender identity and sexuality. My prevailing lament is that in the wake of my own self understanding my addictions have never really left. The level of substance abuse has ebbed and flowed since I came out, but addictions are not something that simply go away. I dare say that once you’re addicted, you’ll always be an addict; even when you're many years sober.
These self destructive tendencies are often considered practically normal in our society, and it leaves me with a much deeper question. How many people could have moved into adulthood without self-harm or addiction had they never been made to feel ashamed that they identified as LGBTQ in the first place.
“ Why do we gotta tell each other how to live?
The only prisons that exist are ones we put each other in.”
— Lady Gaga (Come to Mama)
It’s gotten to the point where one's use of legal and illicit drugs is considered a normal part of our existence. No one wants to ask the deep questions about the emotional turmoil that takes us down these roads, instead we seek remedy by throwing more prescribed drugs and shame on the individual. This of course brings us to the ending of our lives. We carry on with substance abuse as a means of an almost subconscious suicide, or we take more poignant measures and jump straight to actually attempting to end our lives.
What happens after we’ve gone to slaughter?
The same people who created and upheld the very system of shame which lead to our downfall will proclaim that we failed because we didn’t seek God. This is the grand cop-out. Like the expression “In God We Trust.” We decry that we have no ability to control the course of a person’s lives; and when they fall, it’s because “they” didn’t trust in God.
The astute irony of this is that we’d all learned from a young age that “God answers prayers.” Many — including myself — actually spent years praying that God would fix them. This is the grand misconception about God; if they do exist, and if they hear you, it’s completely moot. The actions of a loving God are supposed to be put forth by the loving actions of those they created. Instead those individuals created a control scheme to imprision LGBTQ people in their own mental bastille while proclaiming it as what God wants. The logic is cyclical and perfect; it allows for the quick destruction of those struggling with their place in the world, while permitting those pulling the trigger to be absolved of any accountability.
Fyodor Dostoevsky is quoted to have said “The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.” It’s an apt statement when as children we are made to become prisoners in our own mental dungeons. It’s a dark place that no one creating these conditions would dare to venture to themselves. Unfortunately like the slaughterhouse that’s tucked away from the public’s prying eyes, once you’ve seen the horrors of this prison, you simply cannot close your eyes to the suffering that takes place there.
It’s those who allow themselves to hear us, and truly empathize with our stories that can be the most help. While those so adamant to keep us in shame and self loathing profess to be doing God’s work; it’s those who embrace us, and accept us that are actually doing the work of the Almighty.
I’ve spent so much time in my prison that I am still struggling with all the instilled self-hate, addictions, and even ideations that the larger society deems as mental illness. I say to those people, the only thing that’s truly mentally ill is constraining your children in a fashion that they’d rather kill themselves simply to avoid having to disappoint those who are charged with loving them unconditionally.
Regardless of these internalized issues that I carried with me upon my release from prison, I swear that I will never return. There will be no recidivism, and even if our political leaders were to successfully criminalize my very existence, I will never renounce my identity. You could create a physical prison around me, but I will never again be confined by the imaginary walls that society had built up in my mind.
We will all come to an end someday. Until that day comes, I will never stop living my truth to appease the scared and ignorant masses. The LGBTQ community has a right to exist, anyone who says otherwise is no better than those locking up baby calves till the day they die — a common sociopath.
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