Transgender Teen Suicides

Respect, Transgender, #HisNameWasZander, #hernamewasLeelah, Trans, #TransLivesMatter, LGBT, Equalism, Health, Kettle Mag, Ted Eytan,
Written by anushka

With family values changing over time and people growing more open towards new ideas, you might think life may have become easier for the LGBT community. But with another disturbing suicide case of transgender teenager, Zander Mahaffey coming to light, it surely doesn’t seem to be like that. Recently, a very similar suicide case of Leelah Alcorn had gained a lot of attention, bringing up many questions about equality and the transgender community.

Questioning equality

We always say that society will judge you no matter what, and encourage others to stand up for themselves. But, what should one do when one’s own family, especially their parents refuse to accept them for who they are? Are a person’s religious beliefs more important than the lives of their own children?

In both these cases, the victims’ parents have been blamed for not supporting or accepting them, leading them to take the drastic step of ending their lives. Both Leelah and Zander have described how they received extremely negative reactions from their parents when they came out.  While Leelah was taken to a therapist that was just as biased as her parents, Zander was mentally tormented by his mother. What is a child supposed to do if her/his own parents refuse to support them?

Everyone has their own set of beliefs and morals that they follow, and everyone has the right to do so. What really concerns me is when people use their beliefs to defend their actions after treating someone as inferior. Denying human rights to someone just because they are gay or transgender can never be justified. Making a person feel so miserable that they feel the only option they have is to end their life is simply disgusting and unacceptable. A person’s sexual orientation should not affect the fact that they are human and that they have the same rights as anyone else.

Family reaction

What upsets me even more than Leelah and Zander’s tragic deaths, is the reaction of their families. The families of both teens used their birth names and wrong pronouns, despite that being one of their last wishes. It’s like they have chosen to be completely oblivious to the reason their children committed suicide. Leelah parents also demanded her suicide note to be taken down from her Tumblr account, since she has blamed them for pushing her to take her own life. Her post has been deleted from her blog, but others have been posting it since then.

Moreover, they still refuse to take the blame or even try to change their mindset. Her mother, Carla said in an interview with CNN: “We don’t support that, religiously. But we told him that we loved him unconditionally. We loved him no matter what. I loved my son. People need to know that I loved him. He was a good kid, a good boy,” still refusing to acknowledge Leelah as a female simply because of her religious beliefs.

In times like these, when one’s family refuses to give any support, one might perhaps look for support at school but only with much dismay. A transgender teen has recently accused various schools in his district of discriminating against him. Schools should be more open to a controversial topic like this. They shouldn’t just claim to treat all students equally but actually act towards it.

Social Media

At least the majority of posts online have been in support of the transgender community. Social media users have been trending #HisNamewasZander and #HerNamewasLeelah to show their support. Some have even been citing Leelah and Zander’s suicides as murder.

Next time you see anyone even thinking about ending their life, please reach out and help them, give them all the support they might need. Let’s work towards a society where a person’s orientation or gender don’t matter and people don’t have to end their life just for being who they are.

Zander’s suicide note can be found here.

Leelah’s suicide note has been taken down from her Tumblr account, but it can be found online, search for “Leelah Alcorn’s suicide note.”