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March 31, 2023 | Posted by: Jenn Renoe
I Choose Health Because I Chose Myself
Jenn Renoe, Director, Partner Direct
For me, the question “Why I chose health” needs no qualifier. It’s one that lives on its own with a unique and important story. It’s a real, serious question and one that deserves a true, unfiltered answer. You see, I chose health because I understand the impact medication can have on one’s life.
It’s a story I’ve shared in the past. I understood how critical this past November’s election was to my livelihood and made a plea for protection. That isn’t a falsehood. It’s a fact. Here’s an excerpt from that story because it’s important for the framework of my journey into health.
I learned (the importance of medication) as well as anyone could on April 12, 2018. I happened to be traveling for work that day. I woke up, went to a conference, checked in, and then started to walk toward my company’s trade show booth. Before I got onto the show floor, though, I stopped. Something was different. Something was off. No, not off per se. For the first time in my life, this something was right.
It was in that moment that I realized I wasn’t having the intrusive thoughts I’ve had about suicide since I was little. It may surprise you to hear that this change wasn’t caused by a medication to treat depression. It wasn’t medication meant to treat anxiety, bipolar disorder, or any other number of mental health disorders that exist. No, I’d been on those for decades, yet the thoughts and feelings persisted.
You may have heard the statistics that trans youth who are denied care or are unable to embrace who they are, are more likely to suffer from depression and suicidal thoughts. Providing holistic care and support significantly decreases the suicide rates for trans people and medication plays a big role. The medication I’d started one week prior to April 12 that ultimately quelled these intrusive thoughts marked the beginning of my medical transition as a transgender woman. It balanced my body chemistry, reducing the testosterone my body created and increased the estrogen the body I was born with didn’t.
This is a critical moment for all transgender people. I wanted this opportunity to speak to you all, today of all days. Not in recognition of the International Day of Transgender Visibility, but to acknowledge the crushing weight of today’s landscape for the trans community. To convey what it’s like to live in a time and place where statements are made about eradicating transgenderism from public life. To watch more than 150 laws be submitted to both local and federal legislatures to date that make it challenging for trans people to get the care they need and to live openly in public. To eradicate transgenderism is to eradicate trans people. There cannot be one without the other.
It isn’t an exaggeration to say the next two to three years could define the rest of my life and the lives of every transgender citizen living in this country.
So why did I choose health? I chose health because I’m terrified of a day when I again face the overwhelming weight of suicidal ideation. I chose health because I’m terrified of a day that may come where the targeting, the hate, the restricted access to healthcare and especially, the inability to exist publicly, transforms me from a thriving member of society to a statistic. I chose health because I don’t think any person should ever have to experience the things I have in my life. Ultimately, I chose health because I chose myself and every other person who has ever struggled. I hope this community of allies will help create a place where choosing ourselves is still possible.
Connect with Jenn on LinkedIn.
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