Mad Trans Dreams

Visions and Resistance from outside Norms of Gender and Mental Health


Check out this post by Janani Balasubramanian on Black Girl Dangerous:

“February is national eating disorders awareness month.  I mostly have bitterness for it, not just for the winter and its cold, but for the reality that the cold was once much harsher against my much sicker, smaller body.  And that once, I had nothing but shame for the experience. My eating disorder took up most of my teenage-hood.  Younger me had plenty of media representations of people with eating disorders.  Trouble is, they were exclusively representations of white, skinny ciswomen.  Every year, a white, skinny cis woman would come talk at my health class or school assembly about her experience.  This wasn’t a mirror for me to look into; it was a portrait of why I had an eating disorder to begin with….”


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Sometimes it seems like I hear about trans people and madness all the time. Some of the most transphobic and ableist stereotypes get smushed together in media depictions of mad trans villains. Inside and outside of trans communities, I hear a lot of commentary and controversy over psychiatric diagnoses related to gender identity and gender expression, such as Gender Identity Disorder, Gender Dysphoria, Transvestic Fetishism, and so on. Our rates of suicide attempts and suicide get alluded to again and again (a big study found that over 40% of us try suicide at some point in our lives).

At the same time, though, there’s so much I crave to know that is not easy to find. I want to know about the revolutionary legacies of trans resistance to ableism and psychiatric confinement. I want to learn about other trans and gender nonconforming people’s experiences of psychiatric disability, emotional crisis, and the mental health system–and I want to learn about the tools and survival strategies they have created along the way. I want a glimpse into imagined futures and visions of a changed and changing world.

I’m grateful to people like Reina Gossett who have started unearthing our missing histories. I’m  grateful to authors like Dylan Scholinski, Lovemme Corazón, Kate Bornstein, Jacks McNamara, and Karen Nakamura for the journeys they share in their books.

I dream of finding more, and maybe helping build some too.