Hi Paper Bear,
I ran across this site on accident and have been reading some of your letters for the past hour now ... and I thought maybe you could help me out some. My name is Ash, or Ashly. I'm a 22 year old trans girl, male to female. Problem is I'm running out of options. I live in Alabama in the United States, so first off, not good to be gay and transgender in this state. To make matters worse, however, I've been looking for work since I was 18 with no success. Not one single place has hired me despite me trying. I'm lucky that my friend is letting me live with them out of the kindness of his heart, but after years of mooching, and not finding a source of income, it's starting to hurt me in more ways than one.
Since I have no form of income I can't do anything that I want to do with my life. I can't move out, I can't drive, I can't buy my own necessities, I can't ever plan my trip to my dream vacation in Australia. But, worst of all, I can't even get onto hormones despite being permitted by a psychiatrist.
After years of this it is starting to make me hate my life more and more. Even thoughts of suicide have crossed my mind, which is strange for me, seeing as I don't ever want to do that. The thought of not living scares me and is selfish to others, my friends and mate. But I don't know how much longer I can keep this up. I can't start my life; how much longer must I wait before I can live happily?
What advice could you give me that could help me out? Sorry to ramble but I needed to get that out to someone.
P.S. One reason I have trouble finding work may be due to my lack of high school diploma or GED, and with being mentally handicapped it takes me longer to learn things than normally.
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Indeed, you are in a troubling situation, but as long as you haven’t given up, there is hope. Let’s see if we can think this through, starting with education. You don’t specify what mental handicap you have, but it can’t be a severe one since you are able to write a coherent letter, meaning you can put your thoughts down on paper in a logical manner, something a more severely disabled person could not do. Perhaps you struggle with dyslexia or ADD, but whatever it is, if you can write a letter like this, you can get your GED. It might be a struggle, and you might need some tutoring, but you can do it.
In today’s difficult job market, with so many unemployed and many good jobs shipped overseas, not having at least a high school diploma is a serious disadvantage. I would not be so quick to imply that your lack of employment is due to localized prejudice against the transgendered so much as your lack of education. The longer you wait, too, the more difficult it will be to get work. Employers don’t like to see a resume with years of unemployment on it.
My advice to you, then, would be to get your GED as soon as possible. If you haven’t already done so, go to the GED Testing Service’s test taker page at http://www.gedtestingservice.com/testers/test-taker-home to sign up for online classes, get practice tests, and sign up for a test at a site near you. Before taking the test, take a practice test or two at sites such as www.4tests.com, www.gedonline.org, or www.passged.com.
In the meantime, you still have the quandary of making money. One thing you can do—and I have actually heard some success stories on this one—is to be an at-home customer service employee for such companies as Work At Home Agents (www.workathomeagent.com); LiveOps (www.liveops.com), which requires you to pay $30 to cover a background check, but it is a legitimate company, not a scam; Working Solutions (www.workingsol.com); ACD Direct (http://www.acddirect.com/jobs/); or VoiceLog (http://www.voicelog.com/careers.html).
Even though you are physically stuck in Alabama at the present time, the Internet is the Grand Liberator from Geographic Constraints. Take yours truly. I started work in publishing with companies in Michigan, and I had to live near their offices while I was an employee for brick-and-mortar publishers. Once I went freelance, though, all I needed was a laptop and an Internet connection, so I fled Michigan to live in California, even though my primary client is still in Michigan and another company I work for is based in Europe.
In our modern world, geography is not the limitation it once was.
While it won’t be easy to find work at home and study for and pass your GED, you can do so if you set these as your definite goals and work steadfastly toward them. You are very fortunate to have a good friend who is giving you lodging. Now show him you appreciate what he has done by doing something to improve your life. You are lucky to live in a time where it doesn’t matter where you live. The Internet is for more than playing games and chatting with friends; it liberates us from the physical world to do things that would otherwise be impossible or very difficult to do. You can take advantage of that to transcend your situation.
If you can see progress toward and income and education, you will gain self-esteem, relieving you of the burden of these negative thoughts you've been having. And that will start to snowball until you cannot help but improve your situation.
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