Editors' note: Monica F. Helms is the president of the Transgender Americans Veterans Association.
We all know that loneliness does not limit itself to LGB or T people. This feeling probably strikes 100% of the human population at one time of another, many living in perpetual loneliness for most of their lives. A person can feel lonely because they have no one special in their life who loves them. Others can be lonely in a crowd of people who do love them. A majority of people don't choose to be lonely, yet some do. But loneliness does choose us.
Even though the feeling of loneliness does not differ between LGBT people and straight people, the causes can be different. If we can believe the figures for the number of LGBT people in the population, between 5% and 10%, then that means that there would be far less LGBT people in the world to find your special someone from. Of course, bisexual people have more numbers to choose from, as do straight transgender people. If an LGBT person lives in a rural area, their chances become zero in many cases. But numbers alone don't keep people from being lonely.
Loneliness in the lesbian community is such a large issue that it generated a joke. When two lesbians fall in love, one quickly rents a U-Haul so they can move in together. It might seem funny if it didn't have its basis in reality. For gay men, you'll find dozens of cruising bars in large cities to accommodate their need to cure loneliness, even if it's for just one night. Everyone tries cope the best they can, but loneliness keeps its own time.
I find the Religious Right obsession with gay people having sex as such a far-fetched and ridiculous notion. I imagine that these people are so sexually repressed and lonely that they can't stand it when someone else enjoys themselves more than they do. But the truth of the matter happens to be far different in reality, otherwise the term "bed death" would not have been invented. Bed death happens to couples who have been together for a long time but have long since stopped having sex together. I can tell you from my experience as a straight married man, it happens to straight people as much as LGBT people.
In the LGBT community, loneliness causes a higher incidence of smoking and drinking, since the "cure" for loneliness can be found in a bar, or so they think. When a person needs to suppress their loneliness for one night, they could have unprotected sex as the result, which will lead to many other problems. Some have even taken their own lives because of loneliness. I guess with unprotected sex and suicide, we can easily say that loneliness kills.
I want to focus on what causes trans people to become stuck in loneliness. What I have seen and want to address has happened to some trans people, but not all of them. Some have a multitude of reasons to feel lonely. The biggest would be the stigma from society that we are somehow not "real" men or women.
Some straight women and some gay men may not want to date a trans man because he doesn't have a penis, or at least not a functional one. Some straight men and some lesbians would not want to date a pre-op MtF because they still have a penis. And then there are some straight men and lesbians who won't date any transsexual woman, regardless of surgical status, because they still consider them men. The existence of a penis at birth is all that matters to them and the rest of that person's life or personality doesn't. One easily sees that when it comes to romance, many trans people can find themselves facing loneliness.
Loneliness comes in other forms for trans people. Being rejected by family members can be devastating to many trans people, but gay, lesbian and bisexual people can also face this very same loneliness. I experienced it myself. It took seven and half years to become accepted by all of my family members, but my father had to die before that happened. Yet, I'm one of the lucky ones.