Tag Archives: suicide

4 Weird Things That Happen To You When A Love(d) One Kills Themselves

4 Sep chloe sagal suicide

chloe sagal suicide

Someone I used to be in love with and lived with for two years took her life. Depending on the sort of story you were expecting, this could be seen as a beginning or ending. For me it still seems like some sort of limbo, moments and feelings trapped in amber that I can see but not touch. Hopefully writing about it will help me move forward.

This isn’t news to anyone that follows me online through either my own social media and posts, or filtered through your favorite online stalking/roasting site/FB group. From Fall 2014 to Fall 2016 I was in a tumultuous relationship with video game designer Chloe Sagal, and we lived together for much of that time. We separated during a particularly tense eviction, where I moved to downtown Portland to prepare for an impending surgery and she moved elsewhere with another of her partners. I ceased contact shortly afterward, and heard little from or about her until she hobbled into a downtown Portland park and set herself on fire to protest her lifetime struggle with inadequate and unsympathetic mental health care.

And then things got weird.

I found myself lamenting that there really isn’t a whole lot of advice out there for this sort of situation. What do you do with yourself and your thoughts and your pain? Everyone has hot takes about why this happened, but you don’t hear many stories from/about those left behind. So here we are.

I figure this could be a good resource for a lot of people, even if you don’t literally have Washington Times journalists openly wishing on Twitter that you would also commit suicide.

chloe sagal suicide

1) Your Memories Are A Fuck

I mean, this isn’t the first time I lost an ex. A guy I used to date when I was much younger drank himself to death around his 30th birthday. Another ex of mine (another trans woman in the video game industry) passed away peacefully during a camping trip. This isn’t even the first time I lost a loved one to suicide; I’ve brought up more than once on this blog my uncle that killed himself when I was a pre-teen over his inability to reconcile being gay with his Christian faith. It’s not like I don’t still have unprocessed and complicated feelings about them all, most of all about never being able to say goodbye.

This one is different, because my relationship with Chloe was… not great a lot of the time. She screamed and hit walls and could be very threatening. She broke a lot of my stuff, specifically targeting things she knew had sentimental value like childhood possessions. She would send harassing messages to people I cared about and in the end was sending nasty messages my way as well. It got to where I woke up in a panic when I heard her typing in the wee hours of the morning creating a new manifesto. I wondered who was targeted next, what damage control would I have to devote my day to rather than my own life.

But she also wrote songs about me. Not just full romantic ballads, but little ditties she would make up while I was cooking dinner or cleaning the room. She would riff off of themes songs of shows we watched together, cuddled under the covers, when things were good. We had a whole language of in-jokes and references. She always looked better in my clothes than I did. I still remain convinced she was one of the most effortlessly brilliant artistic minds I was ever blessed to spend time with and be inspired by.

I fell in love with her while she sung “The Calendar Hung Itself” by Bright Eyes to me. Honestly that should have been a red flag this would not end well, but I was starry eyed. This shit is complex.

I don’t think she was a bad person, or a martyr. I think she got so accustomed to online abuse from the fallout from her GoFundMe incident that she compulsively sought out negative attention over positive. She was so terrified of ever completing a project because of anticipated backlash she just devoured herself like a snake eating its tail.

2) People Show Up Out Of Fucking Nowhere

chloe sagal suicide

I found out what happened on my birthday, when a reporter contacted me for a statement. I was on my way to a date with a guy at a club so I said I would give a statement first thing tomorrow. He got me so drunk I overslept and never contacted the reporter.

I got an email from him the next day giving his condolences. I hadn’t told him during the date, he had Googled me and found mention of it on a roasting site. He concluded by admitting he had a wife he didn’t tell me about. That meant, he insisted, that future dates would have to be more discreet since he was now aware of people watching my social media. I deleted his number from my phone.

Happy Birthday To Me.

Those first few days I got messages from probably a thousand people. Limiting it to supportive messages, it was still broad swaths of individuals with widely varying connection to me. People I was on good and bad terms with. People I hadn’t spoken to in months or years, and some I honestly never wanted to speak to again well before this.

The messages came so frequently I barely had time to formulate how I was feeling, much less summarize it. A lot of vague offers of “support” “if I needed anything” that I had no idea how to respond to. Even a handful of folks that genuinely seemed to be looking for an odd sort of absolution. Like I could pat them on the head and be like “well fine I forgive you,” and give them closure.

Fuck that, when do I get closure?

3) The Narrative Becomes A Disaster

People are still actively talking about her on Twitter. Everyone has their pet story about what happened. I see articles written in like Portuguese that have photos of a completely different ex of mine in them because a right-wing blogger fucked up the Google Image Search for her in a hitpiece. People use her death to make a point scolding other people using her death to make a completely different point.

A month ago, a Canadian balladeer I hadn’t heard of previously wrote a song with her name in the title and I realize this is bigger than I can comprehend. Like, she’s not the person I lived with and woke up next to and she’s not the person I had to separate myself from. This whole thing is bigger, even to people that never even met her. She’s now a symbol, a metaphor. A horrible, grisly death turned to legend that means whatever anyone wants it to mean.

In a way, kinda got what she wanted; people talking about what she went through. People taking it seriously. For the rest of us, however,

4) You Never Stop Wondering What This Means

chloe sagal suicide

Stories have a beginning, a middle, and end. Something bad happens, and you learn something and grow stronger. Ghosts haunt you, and you put them to rest and you both benefit.

Otherwise you just… sit there.

Do you let go? What does “letting go” mean? Is it better, is it required of me, to preserve the good she has done over the bad? How much responsibility do I have for sustaining her legacy?

Why did this happen? What’s the lesson here? What’s the next step? How do I put this ghost to rest?

Do you ever get to find out?

Does this story ever actually end?

Article Feature Image: Tristen, Flickr

The Unremarkable Story Of Caleb Hannan And His “Scientifically Inferior” Lack Of Ethics.

20 Jan

Strange stories can find you at strange times. Like when you’re battling insomnia and just trying to live your life as a trans woman.

It was well past midnight two nights ago and I was still awake despite my best efforts.  I work 10 hour shifts which require getting up at an ungodly hour to catch the train. I hadn’t asked for those few extra hours of bleary consciousness, but I did try to do something useful with them.

I’m a snarky political trans woman. Sometimes I’m funny, sometimes less so. Like all angry trans women, I spend far too much time thinking about how shitheads callously misuse our narratives to make some awful point or other or as punchlines for their terrible writing. That’s the silver lining to my sleeplessness — it gives me time to scour the internet and further develop my misanthropy. And it was then, during one of those restless nights, that I first encountered that blubbering sack of pigshit, Caleb Hannan.

caleb1Here we see him pretending to care about journalistic credibility.

See, Caleb Hannan isn’t a journalist, or a person capable of human empathy. He’s an overstuffed bag of pig manure animated by a mischevious fairy queen to see if he could develop a human conscience. So far no dice. One day you will grow up and be a real boy Pigshitocchio, if you follow your heart. But that day is apparently not now.

I’d never heard of the creepy manipulative social predator until he’d posted an 8000 word trash heap bragging about how he stalked and harassed a trans woman to death over a golf club. For some reason, people are calling this journalism. From what I gather, he typically blogs about business and sports, which is like the opposite of my interests.

I was only half-awake when I flipped through the articles, but even with a foggy brain I could grasp its significance. Caleb Hannan is a hack piece of trash that has been sued before for defamation and invasion of privacy. But like in literally every other situation, people will take any jackass’ word for gospel if it involves slandering a trans woman.

And, you know what, I started this piece intending to be a parody of the original article but rereading it I’m just nauseous and sad and don’t have the heart. And seeing people I’d have thought would know better laud it as “respectful” genuinely makes me wonder if there’s some sort of server IP address redirect going on where they are literally reading a different article than the one where a smug dipshit re-contextualizes the downfall and death of a woman that he engineered as “the story of a troubled man” and has the gall to refer to it as a “eulogy”. An article that hinges on interviews he gained through deception and outright lies.

I mean, get a load of this paragraph:

Maybe the most surprising thing about my conversation with Kinney was how calmly he took the news that the woman he thought was an aerospace engineer had once been a man, and a mechanic. “I’m pretty dang gullible, I guess,” he said. For all the hassle that came with his partnership with Dr. V, what had kept him going was the putter. That was what Kinney couldn’t understand. If Yar had simply been a scam, the story would have been much simpler. But the Oracle worked. And Dr. V seemed more interested in achieving fame as a club designer than in getting rich.

“She could have took my money and ran,” he said. “But she didn’t. She took it and built a great product.”

You can see the spittle flecks gathering in Caleb’s mangy hipster beardlet here. HOW DARE IT NOT BOTHER THIS MAN THAT HE GAVE MONEY TO A TRANSSEXUAL. And it becomes more and more obvious that the “con” aspect of the whole story was a smokescreen for his actual motivations. If it was a noble deed to publicly expose every unqualified inventor with shaky credentials backing their product with confusing and possibly hokey science, the entire industry of late-night infomercials would collapse. In fact, this would barely be a story.

EDIT: I realize on a re-read that the surprise he got was because he was obviously gearing up for some Jerry Springer moment, based on how he hinted so much about Kinney possibly being attracted to Vanderbilt. Because this wouldn’t be yet another terrible trans story without a punchline about a man finding us attractive.

He realized he had a vulnerable human life on the ropes, and wanted to push it until it broke, because he knew society would reward him for it.

caleb2

Being the malicious exploitative creep he is, Hannan framed the entire story as a gotcha moment, rhetorically equating her transition with inconsistencies in her credentials. Because to people like him, our lives and perspectives are suspect by nature and in death we make great punchlines for clickbait tabloid page-turners written by talentless repugnant assclowns with no capability of aiming past the lowest common denominator.

People have been taking him to task over the “sent chills up my spine” comment, but really look at it in context:

He was clearly trying to tell me something, which is why he began emphasizing certain words. Every time he said “she” or “her” I could practically see him making air quotes. Finally it hit me. Cliché or not, a chill actually ran up my spine.

“Are you trying to tell me that Essay Anne Vanderbilt was once a man?”

Pretty sure the “chill” he felt while gleefully mocking and tearing apart a trans woman’s gender presentation in sadly typical cishet douchebag solidarity was the dollar signs appearing in his eyes when it hit him that he could really milk this situation for shock value. Someone’s already went through and created an edit of the article where Dr.V’s trans status is never mentioned once but the allegations are the exact same. Despite what many I’ve seen so many people (even professional writers) insist, her trans status is completely irrelevant, unless the goal is overshadowing the actual concerns with tabloid prurience and using a dead woman’s body as currency. But look at the talentless clown we’re talking about; of course he took the low road.

And at this point, I’m officially sick of talking about Caleb Hannan. I’m sick of feeling the need to explain why what he did is so fucked up to people that I thought would know better. And I’m officially sick of the entire social paradigm that Hannan gleefully exploited with his tired-ass “gotcha” narrative.

I mean, Jesus fuck, The Crying Game came out over 20 years ago. How is OMG SHE’S A MAN still even a thing in the 21st century? Where do these people live where their first reaction to a trans woman is I MUST TELL EVERYONE I FOUND THE ELUSIVE DISGUSTING TRANSSEXUAL OUT IN THE WILD or whatever and consider it ok? I mean, the creep told all her colleauges and business partners about it.

Cause like here’s the thing. I’m fairly open about my trans status, like really open. I’m queer as fuck and all that. But having my trans status broadcast would still ruin me. It opens me up to violence from strangers. It invites scorn and ridicule and objectification from people that otherwise would not have noticed me.

I can’t imagine what it could be like for a woman like me from Dr.V’s generation, the kind that was always so obsessed with passing and trying not to make waves and blending in. Outing undoes years of therapy and incredibly difficult social transition and expensive legal processes just so some gloating punk shitstain can play detective and destroy you for nothing more than getting his name out there.

I’m not naive, tho. I understand this is a popular and pervasive attitude. Flipping through the channels at any given moment, you’ll find some comedy work where our entire existence is summed up in a punchline, a drama where we’re the exquisite corpse (literally) the narrative is propped upon and driven by. The sheer amount of entitlement cis people demand over our lives and bodies and narratives is suffocating. Writing a story about a trans woman con artist is confirmation bias paydirt, because cis people are most comfortable believing our entire existence is a con.

The death of Essay Anne Vanderbilt paid off extremely well for Caleb Hannan. I’d say I hope he’s pleased with himself, but I’m 100% sure that is the case.

caleb3