Good morning, my friends and readers.
First, I am still safe with friends. They are feeding a rotating array of vegetarian foods – soup, pasta, even a tofurkey dinner. I’ve only had meat 2 times. To be fair, it is easier to eat vegetarian when other people are preparing the food. But I feel physically better so maybe I’ll keep it up.
My days aren’t that atypical. I watch tv, especially my beloved General Hospital, scoop litter boxes, load the dishwasher, sort recycling, and constantly remove cats from counters, tables, and other off-limits areas. My friends have four cats and they have grown accustomed to me being their backup feeder of breakfast and distributor of treats.
I am sleeping in the guest room formerly occupied by nephews so it is decorated with glow in the dark stars, Philadelphia sports team posters, a Harry Potter wall decal, and a lot of elephants. I love it. It is cozy and sweet and comforting. I’m pretty sure I’ll be putting the glow in the dark star decals in my room when I return home.
Returning home is still my goal. I have the legal right to be there for multiple reasons so I’m agreeing to a consent agreement through Family Court that basically lays out the rules of engagement to protect everyone’s interests. I did a ton of research on best practices for these types of agreements and put together what I think is a pretty workable plan to respect privacy and dignity. It is basically a co-habitation agreement. The way it works is that any violation of the agreement goes back to administrative court, not 911. So there is recourse
That is my home. I feel safe and secure there in spite of everything. I’ve had multiple rights stripped from me or disregarded – I’m not relinquishing the right to live safely in my home. I’m not being forced into any decisions about my relationship on anyone else’s timeframe except the law. Of course there’s a tradeoff to return home, but I’ve calculated the risk/benefit analysis with my therapist and my support circle. So I am making an informed decision about how to leverage my rights to protect me.
I have no intention of ever ceding any right again.
Please don’t ask intrusive questions about the logistics. That’s not the point of sharing this information. The point is to educate people about how family court matters work and how we can all benefit by understanding our rights.
What has helped me beyond my friends welcoming me into their home?
- Friends talking on the phone, especially those who have had similar experiences. I’m on the phone 3-4 times a week and it has been good for me. Their support and comfort is like a warm blanket. One friend has texted me every single day since I was 302’d. 36 days of thinking to text me.
- Food. My chef friend has regularly brought copious amounts of vegetarian food for my hosts. Not only is it nourishing, it helps me provide a little to the family. That’s helps my dignity. And it is good food. I’m having vegan butternut squash soup for lunch all week.
- Rides. Friends have provided all sorts of rides to court, to pick up documents, to the store. I have active PTSD symptoms from being handcuffed by the police when they executed the 302 warrant and then fastened into the backseat of a police vehicle and driven to Oakland. I’ve tried a few times to get into the backseat of cars driven by people who love me and I can’t. So no rideshares for me until I process that trauma.
- Shopping. I’ve been out a few times, mostly to Walgreens and Giant Eagle. I had significant anxiety attacks in both. So ordering online or using curbside services is great. I’m doing better in Walgreens now, but I won’t return to a grocery store soon.
- Therapy. I was already seeing my therapist 2x week. She was able to find a 3rd slot for me to use for the next several months to give me enough time to process all of the things. I’ve been so focused on survival mode all these weeks. And my new psychiatrist has seen me weekly or stayed in touch to make sure my meds are where they need to be.
- Social contact. I had Chinese food with a high school friend. I had a nice ride with another friend. My hosts’ families regularly spill in and out of the house. Ask me to coffee, lunch, etc. I’m not up to going to events yet. But whether in my current space or when I return home soon this month, ask me out. I won’t be able to have guests to my home per the agreement, but there are lots of nearby spots.
- Distractions. Streaming tv has been a Godsend. I’ve intentionally watched new-to-me shows to avoid getting wistful. My young nephew has introduced me to the Simpsons and we also rewatched Wednesday and Stranger Things together. I’m reading library books on my phone. I listen to podcasts. I think having too much time to think about things isn’t a good idea.
- Referrals. My lawyer friends and paralegal friends have been immeasurably helpful with me finding lawyers.
Yes, multiple lawyers. You know I have a family law attorney. What you might not know is that I already had to retain two defamation lawyers through Saul Ewing to defend me and my blog in a defamation legal action filed by the neighbor whose actions gave rise to the #ProtectTransKids projects. There hasn’t been much movement on that case, but I’ve learned we have to be prepared. She is also suing the City Paper and other private individuals. It created a lot of stress and anxiety that made this a terrible summer.
I also will have to hire a civil rights lawyer to address certain aspects of recent events and a medical malpractice attorney.
That’s five lawyers in four months. Multiple court levels. And all necessary to save myself and save my blog. And absolutely impossible for most people relying on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) for their living.
My blog is my only asset of value. The idea of selling it is heartwrenching for me, but I am forced to prioritize my own welfare. Especially thinking of all those who don’t even have these choices. Who can’t hire a lawyer to protect them in Family Court. I can’t be of service to them if I am not taking care of myself.
So that leaves two goals – what I describe as Saving Sue and Saving Sue’s Blog.
After my unjust 302, I took down my blog for three weeks to give myself a rest and determine how/if to sell it to fund my legal cases. I was horrified to return to blogging and discover that 10 trans people had been killed or reported killed in that period of time and very few outlets had acknowledged. I began writing the memorial posts immediately, limiting myself to one person per day to avoid overwhelming my already taxed brain. And thought a lot about the frailty of any such memorial system that relies on one outlet/person. Of course others document the deaths, including groups where I volunteer like the Trans Doa Task Force. That’s how I learned about the 10 deaths, But my role is to take their information and create a media reckoning, to amplify and raise awareness. The fact that no one stepped in to fill that gap is reprehensible and a shame on all of us so-called-allies.
So I am resolved to do everything in my power to take care of myself and preserve the blog.
Some friends with the skills are helping me craft a campaign around this. I already had planned to approach local foundations to help me prepare the blog for archiving – a massive undertaking to recode the whole site, prepare the images and attachments, and find someone with the expertise to keep the site in a language that will translate forward. That took a back seat the #ProtectTransKids projects. And now it is threatened by the defamation lawsuit.
The blog operates at a loss. The ad revenue is small, not enough to even pay for monthly hosting. Everything else comes out of my SSDI check.
To save the blog will require helping me avoid future situations where selling it is an option. The best way to do that is to consider a recurring monthly donation. If the blog becomes self-sufficient, that’s great. If it generates revenue for to do this work, even better.
Earlier this year, I promised that I would not launch any new projects this year, that we would maintain when we have and focus on myself. So I’m doing just that, but not just for them. I realize now that this is what I have to do to have any hope of launching other projects. I am my own project you could say. Hence, my mantra “Save Sue and Save Sue’s Blog”
Please help me so I can continue to do this work. It won’t be unexpensive. But it should be worthwhile
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