Boys Do Cry: An out trans Army sergeant shares his story of childhood pain so that others do not feel alone.
A huge percentage of transgender people (41 percent in the U.S.) attempt suicide, and suicidal thoughts dot the storyboards of many of our lives. We trans rights advocates talk often about how to end this epidemic, but nonetheless a certain shadowy silence prevails.
A cultural taboo about feeling the desire to die keeps many suicide survivors from ever discussing their experiences, much less doing so publicly. But I believe that for those of us who feel able and willing, telling the stories of our attempts can provide a segue into a conversation for healing — for us survivors as well as the entire community.
Like many other trans people, I have attempted to end my own life. Until now, it's not something I've shared with anyone besides my girlfriend, who is also trans. Writing down the story of my attempt, I am immediately filled with feelings of shame. As if I was somehow weak for being consumed by the darkness of the hopelessness that filled my life at that time. But I’ve seen too many trans adults and youth — including, recently, a friend — taking their lives to remain quiet.
New York Times-Transgender Today
My name is Sergeant Shane Ortega. I serve in the United States Army and I recently stepped forward into the public light via the Washington Post to show our country what an actively serving transgender military member looks like.
I wanted to show them that we are all human and most importantly I wanted show my love of this nation and something greater than myself- our future. I have been working on LGBT policy in the military almost as long as I have been serving, nearly 10 years. I am a Helicopter Flight Engineer, I also served in the Marine Corps as a military Police Officer. During my time in service I have done three combat tours -- two to Iraq and once to Afghanistan -- after transitioning in 2012. I have worked in LGBT advocacy almost as long as I have served in the military. I previously worked on the repeal of DADT and have been working on transgender military equality and LGBT EO protections since 2010.
Other featured works Include:
In Print: APA- Gay and Lesbian Mental health Journal, Washington Post, The New York Times, The Advocate, Huffington Post, The Star Adviser, Washington Blade, Washington Times, Out Magazine, Stars and Stripes, Star Observer, Military Times, New York Magazine, Daily Kos, NextNewNow, Univision, Task & Purpose, Daily Nexus, Press Herald, The Inquisitir, Daily Mail, Stuff (New Zealand) Die Welt (Germany), Star Observer (Australia), Daily Mail (UK)..
Television and Film : HBO’s the Trans List, ABC News, CNN, BBC, MSNBC, NBC News, The History Channel- History Now, Fusion TV, Univision, Buzzfeed Videos, YouTube Channel: Shane Ortega
Radio: The RX Muscle Show, Andrew and Troy Show (Australia), OUT sports Sirsus XM radio, LGBTQ and A
Speeches: American Psychology Conference -San Diego, University of California- Santa Barbra, University of California- East Bay, Howard Brown Health, Boston University, RUSH Medical Center (Chicago), Ryerson University, USS O’Kane, Veterans Administration of Honolulu and more