If you’ve been paying attention to my posts here on Nerdy But Flirty or on places like Twitter, you’ll see that one of my latest “obsessions” has been taking older games and, through the power of a modern computer and excellent emulation software, cleaning them up and giving them outstanding beyond-HD resolutions to showcase what they could look like on a modern system. One of the best tools out there for this, at least for the GameCube and Wii, is Dolphin – an excellent emulator with a ton of tools for this purpose. Yet, this is only a jumping off point for today’s article, which stemmed from a recent message I received from our Editor-in-Chief, Kelsey, about a young transwoman who was a very active developer of Dolphin who committed suicide on April 23. Kelsey sent me a few links to stories written about her death and after talking to her about it, we agreed that this might make for an important article here on the site.
Rachel Bryk was 23 at the time of her suicide, and was well-known for many things, with her transgender status simply being one of them. Besides the fact that her gender identity should only be a footnote in the chronicle of great things she had (and would have) accomplished, it was used as a firing point for activists to claim that her death was the result of bullying and “trolls” who disagreed with her lifestyle choices. A friend of Rachel’s took the time to document the real story behind her death. Rachel had suffered from various ailments for many years, including RA and fibromyalgia, and had commented in the months preceding her death about being in great, chronic pain and that these diseases would only get worse as time progressed. In the days leading up to her death, she’d began making posts to give her farewells, and it seemed that those friends who tried to talk her out of her decision were unable to do so (and out of respect, they seemed to acquiesce to her decision).
In any event, it’s important to take away from this that her death was not simply because of harassment from transphobic individuals, but rather due to a lifetime of severe illnesses that she was no longer willing to bear. Yes, there’s evidence that suggests she’d withdrawn from a few communities due to anti-LGBT sentiments and possibly a small bit of harassment, but at most that would seem to be a secondary cause to her decision, not the main factor as some seemed to suggest that it was. Her friend even takes it a step further and suggests that blaming “trolls” for her death is a new low, and I agree. A “troll” is generally some low-life that crawls out of a hole to spew nastiness and then run away, not really sticking around for the fallout. A true bully or person guilty of harassment takes things much, much further. You can block trolls and cut them off, but a bully or someone bent on true, real harassment is much harder to shake, and it only takes one of them to bring about a suicidal state in the right (or wrong?) person.
But things get even murkier when you start to use cases like Rachel’s suicide and claim that, because she was transgender, her death must be linked to harassment or a failure to “fit in with society.” This is effectively dehumanizing her and using her as a case-in-point to a much larger cause, footnoting her as a mere statistic – one of many – to champion the reasons for why equality needs to exist in our world.
Don’t get me wrong about any of this: I’m very much a champion of equal rights and equality of all kinds, not just for LGBT individuals, but for everyone out there. Truly. But I agree: using the death of someone like Rachel, spinning it with a series of lies in order to meet a political or social cause, is no different than any other lying that happens to make something fit with a given agenda. It just sucks, and is a terrible thing to do. Period. Rachel deserves more than to be forced into a peg she didn’t want to be in in the first place, and using her to fit some goal like that in a dishonest manner is simply wrong to do.
I think we should be celebrating Rachel’s life, and lamenting the tragic pain and illness she had to deal with which was apparently so severe as to make her wish to end it all. That’s the real tragedy. Not some imaginary bully that led her to take her own life. Yet, it’s important to realize that bullying and harassment is a very real thing. It’s something that we have to deal with all the time. It isn’t about someone being gay or lesbian or transgender, but rather just that they’re the target for someone else’s hate agenda. Anyone can be the victim of these things, and it’s a very serious problem in our world today.
When I write “normal” articles and produce videos and the like, I usually focus on the things that are fun and work with them and don’t get overly personal. Of course, sometimes I’ll get personal during a video to fill the void or because I have something to talk about, and certainly I’ve done some (video) podcasts that were of a personal nature. In either event, for those who don’t know my personal background, they generally seem to think of me as having always been a biological female, or they don’t care to bother to ask any questions about it. And ultimately, that’s very flattering and means I’m doing something right! On the other hand, every now and then, someone will read about something or see a video/podcast where I mention something about my birth gender identity or some personal thing going on, and they’ll be like, “Whoa! Wait a minute! So you were born a dude?!?!” and from there, it’ll devolve in to nasty, anti-anything remarks, and that will result in them being banned or otherwise cut off. But banning someone doesn’t make what they say go away – only time does. And to be fair, it’s very rare that this happens, but it can. Really, I’m more likely to get comments along the lines of how women shouldn’t be playing games like this than I am anything of that nature, but I digress.
I guess my point here is that bullying is a far more serious than “trolling,” and as I said, anyone can be the victim of this. It’s also simply the product of the world we live in where we can have a million “friends” online and connect to people far, far away, and yet still feel as if we’re alone and don’t belong. There’s nothing to be ashamed of if you feel that way, but these are serious thoughts that you should share with someone. No matter what your issue is, there are people who can talk to you and be non-judgmental about it. I’d like to think that I am one such person. Every day when I drive down the road near my apartment, there’s a suicide prevention billboard that says “Shatter the Silence” on it, and I think that’s a very important statement. If you feel at all in despair – talk to someone. Share it with them.
If you feel like you want to talk to me, I’m always open to it. I’ll gladly let you email me, or we can arrange another way that is more personal or feels better to you.
In any event, I’m thankful to all of you who have been with me and appreciated me and all the things I do, and I ask that you give that same sentiment to others out there. We are all people on this cosmic journey together, no matter our backgrounds or anything like that. Let’s work to treat others with the dignity they deserve and help each other out.
Let’s make sure that wonderful people like Rachel Bryk aren’t subjected to becoming footnotes in history for the wrong reasons.