This is mental health week and I have seen many posts on social media urging people to speak up to help end the stigma around mental illness.  I am now an official member of two stigmatized groups.  Not only do I have a diagnosis of one of the most stigmatized mental illnesses, BPD, I am also a transgender woman.
I will not pretend I do not understand the stigma.  I will not agree with it or condone it, though.
One year ago I would not have publicly identified as either mentally ill or trans.  I had just accepted for myself that I was trans, I was not ready to let anyone else know.  I accepted and even admired trans people I knew, but now this was me and that was different.  I thought it was a horrible thing for me and I would never be accepted.  
I realize now that although I could sincerely accept others, there was still judgement and stigma buried within me.  It was something that was ok for others but not me.  I would never be “like that.”  I was good at fooling myself because that had been me for years though.  

My mental health diagnosis were the same way.  They are much newer and I am still having trouble accepting them some days.  
I do not define myself by my gender or my illnesses.  They are part of me, neither was a choice that I woke up one day and decided to try on.  Neither tells my whole story though.  
Yes, I understand stigma.  Want to or not, I looked at people just like me as different.  Different is not bad though.  We are all different.  A mental illness does not tell a persons whole story, whoever they are.  Gender does not tell a persons whole story either.  Get to know the person, not the labels.  You may be surprised what you can learn.  If I would have done a better job of that I may have accepted myself years earlier.


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