I’m Jillian Hanlon and I’m from Claverack, New York. I’m a police officer and I have worked for my agency for about twenty years. And in the fall of 2014 I had slipped into just a terrible, terrible depression. I’m sitting in my office and I was like, “I gotta do something about this procrastination.” So I, you know, search the Google for procrastination like I’d done thousands and thousands of times before.
What came back on the search results was that depression is a symptom, or procrastination is a symptom of depression. So when the results came back about depression I was like, “Well yeah, okay, I get that. Let me learn a little bit more about depression.”
And one of the search results from that second search came back was gender dysphoria. I chuckled to myself “Ha ha ha, I probably have that.”
But as I read the article it describes my entire life to a tee. So I went to bed. And that was the first night in about eighteen years that I’d actually slept through the night.
That next day I got all sorts of work accomplished. I made my follow up calls, completed several investigations, got reports done. When the work day ended I went home, I was cleaning house, had music on, I was dancing. Just really being very happy for the first time in a long time. And my wife came home. We hadn’t spoken because she was out with friends the night before and she wanted to reconnect. So she wanted to talk so we sat down and we were talking.
And there was a transgender woman that I had met at a social engagement about a week prior. So this woman came up in conversation just organically. My wife asked me, she looks at me and says, “So is that something you would ever consider?”
At that point I was like, “Well, you know, funny you should mention it. I just, you know, had an incredible experience the night before. And I started telling her about this and, you know, there’s a look of surprise and shock on her face. But she was very supportive. And we hugged and cried and she said that she would support me and love me no matter what.
This was several days before my 49th birthday. I was born on Valentine’s Day. I texted my wife to let her know that I was gonna be coming home and did she want me to bring anything. She texted me back, you know, that I need to have my shit out of the house before sundown. I told her, “Look there’s no way.” And she said fine get it out before sundown tomorrow or I’m just throwing it out into the street.
So I went to my friends Tiffany and Matthew and they help me through it, they held me, they made ginger tea for me. The next day Tiffany help me move, brought all the stuff that I could back to my mom’s house here where I had stored it in the garage.
About a week prior to all of this unfolding. My oldest stepson crashed one of our two vehicles and so we were down a car. And she needed, my wife needed a car to get to work. So she asked me if I would help her rent a car. So we’re at the, it’s like an Enterprise Rent-a-Car in Poughkeepsie. And we’re sitting there and she’s just seething, she’s just seething and she keeps looking at me giving me the stink eye. And she goes, “You know you’re disgusting. It would have been, my mom said that it would been better for you to have gotten cancer. Or be killed in the line of duty.” Then she looked at me and goes, “You know what? You’d be better off, and we all would be better off if you just killed yourself.”
I was so down and I was so depressed that I began having thoughts of suicide. I wanted to tell my therapist but I couldn’t. Anybody who ends up having any kind of mental illness or suicidal ideation loses their firearms, so now the loss had really increased. I was facing loss of my family and support group, or I was facing the loss of my career.
So I was formulating a plan to complete suicide. I decided that I was going to not complete by shooting myself. I was just going to drive my car into something that would kill me. And I got my patrol car to ninety miles an hour. And I was headed right towards the tree. And I realized I didn’t have to do it that moment. I had a second, I had some time to wait. And I slammed on the brakes and I pulled over to the side of the road and I cried and then I started thinking about, “What would my suicide mean to my daughter?” And I realized that I didn’t need to be so reckless with myself. And I noticed that even though my wife had insisted that I not tell anybody, she was now outing me to her friends on Facebook. And so I was like, “Well, okay, so if I’m going to lose my marriage, then I’m not going to lose my career or my life.” And it’s at that point that I started formulating my plan. So now my new plan was how I was going to come out at work.
You know, relationships at work have changed and although people are generally more comfortable with my presentation, some people are still having a very, very hard time and so I’ve lost some good relationships at work but I’ve also developed some new relationships that I didn’t realize would be for me. Now I’m living full-time. I have a better social life than I did before this. I have friends who actually love and support me and have helped me through some subsequent rough times that I’ve had. Life has meaning. And I am so fortunate that I didn’t kill myself. And there’s still days that I have a very hard time. But at least I’m around to have that hard time. And it’s very, very important for trans people to know that even when they face withering discrimination and very, very difficult obstacles that they can live lives that are meaningful and purposeful and full of joy.