The Mission and History of Laura's Playground
by Laura Amato
In 2003 I came across a frightening statistic on a transsexual site. It was stated that over 31% of pre-op transsexuals commit suicide. Of course, that number is nearer to 50% more now especially with recent bathroom laws against transgender people. At the time, there were horror stories of transgender people being rejected on suicide hotlines. I vowed to do something about it. In addition, transgender people who had asked simple questions in the trans community were denigrated even though they were confused. This was unacceptable to me.
In March 2004, I opened Laura’s Playground dedicated to transgender suicide prevention and to providing support and information for all. We subscribed to a suicide hotline training site and every staff member has gone through it. In addition, our supervisors provide hands on training to our moderators. Our mission is to prevent suicides and help lower the suicide rate for us. Frequently we are the last place suicidal transgender people come after being rejected on other hotlines. Our staff has saved thousands since 2004. We cannot of course eliminate our suicide rate which is why we provide no guarantees. We have found that many just need to be listened to and assured that they are not alone and have support. This is a place where loving our members and coming from the heart makes a difference. We also place special emphasis on getting professional help through gender therapists and endocrinologists and surgeons. In 2004 we did an internal poll on our site and found that over 50% of transsexuals had at least one suicide attempt by age 20. Some had multiple attempts.
The “Playground” concept here is not the hijacked adult version of the word. Instead it is what playgrounds originally meant which is an interactive place for kids to interact with those like them. For those going through transition they are in essence going through a second puberty for those taking hormones. They are learning how to be themselves so they can be comfortable in the gender they are in their hearts. Of course, they have to learn all over again and what better place is there to do that than in a playground? Fortunately, we grow up fast and learn to function and interact in our new gender we are transitioning to. The chat and forums are great places to do that.
We originally intended to be an MtF transsexual site. It quickly became clear though that there were a lot of confused people out there under the transgender community and that many of them were suicidal as well. That’s when we decided to include all transgender people. Some were talking themselves into surgeries they shouldn’t have had and having a high suicide rate as well afterward. The suicide rate after surgery for transsexuals is 6%. The rate for others such as transgenderists after surgery goes up to 50% as many want the steps reversed.
Recently we changed and updated our web site. Our First Vice President, Dev Anthony, redesigned the site and is now the owner of Laura’s Playground for the staff of this site. Stu is our President.
Perhaps one of the greatest features here are our transgender resources.