As a disabled person I’ve experienced isolation throughout my whole life, and I thought I’d chronicle it here so that people can understand why the corona virus has offered opportunities to disabled people, trans people, and other marginalized people. This post is not to say others are struggling, and I realize my privilege in even being able to discuss this in a blog post.
Starting after birth I had to experience many eye surgeries. While I might have not remembered them throughout the early years, I certainly remembered them as a young kid. As a 4-year-old I remember the insane amount of surgeries, doctors’ appointments, and days where I could not leave dark rooms. As a 4-year-old I should have been in a school as much as possible interacting with my peers and learning how to be a kid. In stead of learning these things I was stuck at home. This I believe is my first example of isolation I have experienced in my life., and this was the first step for training to be able to cope with the isolation that has resulted from the corona virus.
Later, at about age 9 or 10 I started getting headaches and other odd medical issues. Imagine being a young kid who did not know what was wrong with my body but knew that something was wrong. Meanwhile my parents believed me, and supported me while the medical system failed me by misdiagnosing me, brushing it off by using minimization techniques, telling me that it was all in my head, or even telling me that I’d have to live with it for the rest of my life. Because of all these medical struggles I spent a ton of time at home. This isolated me from kids my age and made me turn to the virtual world for comfort, knowledge, friendship, and hope. As a kid I remember talking to friends on the telephone learning all I could about old versions of windows, Windows server stuff, and general technology information that I could get my hands on. all of this prepared me to be able to use technology to maintain connection, and to continue my life. Even today I call back the knowledge I learned from those days, and use it to help me connect with others, comfort others, and offer help to people that need it. This isolation continued further into my childhood and into my early teen aged years. with chronic back pain, headaches, and an eye going bad.
After my teen aged years started my parents got a wonderful call to go to Australia. When we got this call my parents did a ton of research, and some how worked a miracle and got me set up with a good education assistant that was visually impaired herself, and also was very proficient at converting print materials into something that I could read. This really should have been an amazing combination and people reading this might have thought the isolation would have stopped by now, but of course it didn’t because I was blessed by a wonderful body that likes to throw curve balls frequently. In around 2012 the lovely thing that happens to all bodies happened to me. I hit puberty, and testosterone levels rise bringing on ugly depression that I hid by learning Linux command line and talking to nerdy people that could inspire me to keep going forward in my life. During all the tech stuff I always had raging depression and anxiety because my body was doing everything that I did not want it to. As a very young child I had known I was trans, but had no idea how to explain it, and did not have people in my life that would discuss trans gender people. As a scared teenager I tried to turn to mainstream media and could not find any positive material on trans people. As a trans woman in the closet I always saw trans people being portrayed as monsters and sex workers through mainstream content. This yet again caused me to turn to the internet and learn about trans people from content that was backed up by medical professionals and from stories from real life trans people that were working jobs that were really interesting to me. This gave me hope but did not give me confidence that I could come out safely while living in a house with people that were not knowledgeable about trans issues.
Starting in 2014 I made the choice to reduce my high school work, and attend certificate 3 in information technology, digital media (network administration track). This only gave me access to more nerdy people, and the ability to get my hands-on professional grade servers, routers, switches, and storage technologies. While I did not make many friends with students in my class, I did make friends with the instructor, books about Windows server, Books about Cisco, and lab materials posted on tech learning websites. This was a boom for my mental health because I was in the perfect environment and could reach for things that I could understand and succeed in. This continued through 2015, and even resulted in an assistive technology training job as well as a lot more payed tech work. the only thing that happened during the next year and a half socially was meeting a couple of people who turned out to not talk to me after a year of being back in the states, and a lot of nerdy tech fun by myself that resulted in more geekery excitement.
After moving back to the United states my health started crashing and caused me to really become isolated. After arriving back in Houston, I decided on attending Blind Inc. in Minneapolis. This required me taking on the state and required lots of stressful phone calls, emails, and in person meetings. As time progressed, I started not holding food down as well and engaged a GI doctor that misdiagnosed me with acid reflux and put me on a proton pump inhibiter. This did help a tiny bit and allowed my throat to heal up some from all the reappearances that food seemed to like to make on a regular basis. After moving to Minnesota, the weather started to cool off bringing me more pain throughout my whole body. This made me get extremely angry and not take advantage of the opportunities that were afforded to me by the state of Texas. This program wasn’t sustainable for me and I eventually quit, got an apartment, obtained my GED, obtained mental health help that wasn’t helpful because I wasn’t ready to talk about the trans issues that were at the route of my mental health issues. When I look back I realize that if I had talked about them I could have actually saved myself from more mental torture, but couldn’t because I didn’t have support from people that were open to anything and could give me practical advice on how to start presenting as female. This lack of connection was caused by isolation and by societal expectations that men did not hang out with women unless there was some romantic thing going on.
In 2018 I finally decided to come out and started hormone replacement therapy shortly after this. This change gave me a new lease on life, and allowed me to have a few months of energy that allowed me to meet people that ended up drifting out of my life because of the enormous amounts of pain I experienced on a daily basis that caused me to have to sleep quite a bit and caused me to be an angry person that lashed out for no reason. During this isolation, my dog brought me peace, and tech fell by the wayside because my brain was constantly in a fog from being in constant pain. During these months I was able to start presenting as female, started laser hair removal, and got myself to a point where I will be able to get gender confirmation surgery. These few months of energy provided by hormone replacement therapy euphoria put me into a position where I can transition fully thankfully.
The next few years was full of medical issues, and isolation because we could not get reductions in pain and other symptoms. This ended up training me on how to function from home and allowed me to learn how to keep myself emotionally stable during times I could not leave the house. As a disabled person this made me bitter that I couldn’t find work or connection that could accommodate my disabilities, and would crave the ability to meet in conferences online, virtual card games, internet relay chat, one on one calls, and other forms of connection that I could do from bed. When covid19 hit I did not know how I would respond and was pretty sure I could not get access to my testosterone blocker because of the medical system overload that could occur. This luckily did not happen, and I have continued receiving hormone care. Funnily enough my response has been quite calm and has mostly been positive. When social distancing was called for I started making a huge effort to bring people together digitally and made sure I reached out to people using text communications to keep my spirits up and hopefully give other peoples spirits a lift. This has now ended up in some wonderful friendships that I foresee continuing on for a life time and will probably end up providing me connection that I would have never had if the virus hadn’t changed society in such drastic ways in such a short time.