My phone rang.
I was on call so I had a good idea what the nature of the call was.
“Thanks for calling the Trans lifeline..” I began, my standard but sincere greeting. “How are you?”
Silence. Then light crying, mostly stifled on their end.
“It’s ok. Take your time” I offer, gently, reassuringly. “I’m here.” I remind them.
“I tried telling my mom I was trans today…” They inform me. “She screamed at me and told my dad and now dad is going to kick me out !” The caller follows with, and begins to cry more openly, loudly.
She was a fifteen year old caller, a trans-girl from the US whose coming out talk went catastrophically wrong and the so-called friends who abandoned her.
The parents had stepped out after the talk – if a talk is what you could call it – and the girl felt the lifeline was her only option.
I never had the chance to ask any follow-up questions about the talk because the next fifteen minutes or so was me listening to the most soul-wrenching, heartbreaking sobs I’ve ever heard before.
Giant, heaving sobs of total defeat.
“I’m still here. I’m listening.” I offer feebly, feeling helpless but wanting her to know her voice is heard.
The sobbing never subsided and, after what felt like an eternity, the call took a terrifying and unnerving turn.
The sound was thunderous on my headset and startled me. It sounded like a gunshot.
The inconsolable sobbing stopped immediately.
“Are you ok?” I asked feebly, hoping it wasn’t what I thought it was.
“I’m still here for you. If you can hear me – I’m here.” I say, trying but failing to keep the panic out of my voice.
“I’m here…” I offer, a last attempt. In the background I’ve already alerted supervisors as to the nature of the call. Because it’s a guaranteed anonymous hotline, we can’t trace calls or even send help for someone unless they specifically ask for or agree to it.
The call disconnects after some minutes of excruciating silence.
I don’t know what happened to the caller. I knew little about them and will never know.
I went off call and stepped outside.
How I wept.
For her, for so many who endure so much, so needlessly.
Love as much as you can, be inclusive, reach out and be kind to yourselves – always.