Posts Tagged ‘cutting’


Threat Assessment

4 June, 2014

The police handcuffed the sixteen year-old student across the still healing cut on her wrist. They marched her out of the building like a criminal, hands secured behind her back with one officer leading and a second following. They pushed her head down and tipped her into the back of their squad car. She slunk low in the seat and buried her face, hot with tears, in the shoulder of her school uniform, while students and faculty gaped and whispered non-truths. The cruiser pulled out and eased its way around the cars parents and visitors illegally parked in the school’s fire lane then drove off to, bystanders assumed, the county jail. Her arrest was gossip du jour. Rumours of how she had attacked another student, or was it a teacher, no it was an administrator, spread through the student body faster than leaked answers to the biology final. Faculty whispered in the hallways about the man, no woman, I heard middle schooler, she mugged. Around the coffee pot and antiquated, turn-dial microwave the coaches brought up gang initiations and revenge attacks. No one considered her in all this: was she safe, had she been assaulted, was she lost, afraid, or hurting? After all, she was the one in handcuffs.

Fact: her mother died in a car accident last summer.
Fact: her father is absent.
Fact: she was sent to live with her aunt and uncle to be raised with her cousins.
Fact: she was bisexual and, though supported by her mother, her guardians insisted she was not.
Fact: she was depressed.
Fact: she was self-harming as a coping strategy.

She was my student and an attendee of our LGBTQ support group. Things for her had, as they say in the Dark Tower series, gone 19. In less than a year she had been ripped from a relatively happy, C-average life and dumped in one that became too real too fast. She told me some of her struggles in fragments and bits over the course of three quarters. Like a child cupping a butterfly with a torn wing, she held her life out and, without words, begged for help. I had pieced together the fragments and recommended her for a student health and support program. I was not aware of the cutting, but I am not surprised. It is a coping strategy relied on by teenage girls (and some boys) when life has numbed them. The school nurse discovered scars and a still healing slash (evidence the cuts were deep), when she asked for an ice pack (the only treatment schools can offer). The stark reality of her situation is antithesis to the, now, pernicious rumours.

After the counsellor learned of her scarred wrist, administration acted to get her the support she needed. Their solution involved handcuffing by the police and a squad car ride to the local mental health clinic because administration feared her cutting and sexuality indicated a threat to other people. The administrators and the police assessed the situation without considering how she quietly waited for them in the guidance office or how she complied with all of their instructions. They paraded her outside the school and into the squad car like a criminal. They made her the topic of insipid gossip among students, faculty, and staff. They humiliated and stigmatised a girl struggling with depression and self-worth issues and, if she comes back, she will face the consequences of their rash and foolish decisions.

I scheduled a meeting with the counsellors and administrative staff responsible for this egregious treatment where I questioned their motives and decisions. They defended their actions based on her history as a cutter and as a bisexual. One of the administrators said, “The girl isn’t normal and that’s dangerous.” I asked why they had her arrested in order to get her to the clinic instead of by ambulance or in the care of the school’s Pupil Personnel Worker. They claimed she was a potential threat to the students and faculty and, when I pushed for an explanation, they doubled-down on their bigotry stating, “girls like that are a threat to the emotional well-being of students and the appropriate social climate of the school.” I had more questions, but they ended the meeting with a curt dismissal.

Administration is right about one thing: there is a threat. But I disagree with their assessment of it. The threat is not from the sixteen year-old girl in desperate need of better world but against her. It is a threat levied by a school system more interested in maintaining the status quo than helping emotionally scarred children. They threaten our ability to recognise the victims. Their threat violates children’s dignity and castrates our compassion. As teachers, as parents, as friends, and as sensitive human beings, we need to stand against this. We need to practice just-action as a form of radical love. We need to raise and shelter those who cannot defend themselves. We need to be better.


Trans* Love

4 June, 2012

Trans* Love
by: River

::feeling dysphoric and unlovable. feeling out of place with gender. feeling alone.::

The mirror is an enemy. It reflects lies. I can’t look like that; it’s not what I see when I close my eyes. I see smooth, clear skin and long, wavy, ginger hair. I see a face unmarred by time and the ravages of testosterone poisoning. I see me and I am beautiful. But the mirror reflects someone else. It shows a middle aged man in a dress with limp, thinning hair. The mirror shows a scarred and weathered face, five o’clock shadow and cheeks sunken from anxiety and radical diets. The mirror, my reflection, is an abusive partner. It shows what I hate and makes me want to self harm.

::picking up the sterilised shard of glass set aside for this.::

It is easy to picture the cut, performed with surgical steadiness. First it will just seem to be a line. Slowly, blood will bead on the line as my pulse causes it to seep out the sliced skin. I will watch it. The beading will become a rivulet, the rivulet will run down my arm, the blood will drop in perfectly circular splashes onto the hospital white countertop.

It would be gorgeous.

::dialling your number.::

Three, four, five rings. Voicemail.

::wanting to leave a message but not sure what to say.::

The tone. A breath. A long pause.

::hanging up.::

The phone rings; it’s you.


Three, four, five. The call goes to voice mail.

Immediately it rings again.


It is you. Concern colours your voice. I try to explain how I feel, but the words are jumbled and twisted. They abuse each other, consume rationality and meaning.


Your voice is soft, kind. You are on your way.

::sinking to the floor. Making my six foot one inch frame small and impenetrable.::

You use your key and find me pressed against the counter. You kneel beside me and wrap your arms about me. They are stronger than they were six months ago and the hair is thicker, coarser. You run the back of your hand along my cheek, wiping away tears.

::gazing at you.::

Your face is thinner and more angular. Your pores are larger and patches of brown hair are visible on your cheeks and chin. The brown fuzz overwhelms me with a dizzying combination of lust and dysphoria. You smile and my heart melts.

You stand, all awkward charm and help me to my feet. I sway a little from vertigo and you catch me around my waist. With tenderness, being careful not to cut me or yourself, you open my hand and take the glass shard. You set it back in its case and close the lid. You would never throw it out and that is one of the reasons I love you.

You guide me to the bathroom and start the shower, adjusting it to that perfect temperature of steamy, tolerable, scalding. Heat burns the dysphoria off. As the mirror fogs, you unbutton your shirt and drape it across the laundry hamper. You slip out of your shoes and shed your slacks and boxers. You stand before me in nothing but your binder. You give me a moment to take your tan, handsome body in, before slipping my blouse and bra off. They are deposited in the hamper, along with my skirt and the pantyhose I cut the legs off to secure my tuck.

::sighing. helping you remove your binder.::

We step into into the shower. It scalds. I take the pain into my heart, storing it away as pleasure to be reflected on and relished. You caress my double A breasts; cupping them in your small but powerful hands. You kiss my nipples.

::sighing. massaging your clit-cock.::

You moan, you kiss my neck. You slide your hands down my side and between my legs.

::shivering in anticipation.::

You slip two fingers into the soft, pink flesh of my scrotal sack, fingering a make-shift vagina. You gently knead the soft tissue while kissing the spot where I will eventually have cleavage.

::shuddering. weeping. climaxing beneath your loving touch.::

I do not grow hard and do not come, I have not done so in several months—this is the only reason I can let you touch me,—but I do climax. It is an internal tingling that pulses out from my core, enveloping my whole being. It is blinding in its intensity and I crumple into your waiting arms.

We hold each other as the searing water cascades over us, burning away everything we are not.