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WARNING: This article touches upon the sensitive subjects of suicide and abuse. Reader discretion is advised. 

Just because October 11th is National Coming Out Day, a day designated to recognize the LGBTQ+ community and the courage needed to disclose one’s sexual orientation or gender identity, that doesn’t mean that LGBTQ+ members shouldn’t be recognized, praised, accepted, and loved every other day of the year. Unfortunately, for many individuals, this is not the reaction that they receive. In the past few months, the world has seen not one, but now two beautiful transgender teenagers take their own lives as a result of unacceptance and lack of support in their own families.

Leelah Alcorn committed suicide on December 28, 2014 by jumping in front of a truck on Interstate 71. In the suicide note that she posted on Tumblr, she mentioned that her parents were strict Christians who had not supported her gender identity, nor her sexual orientation. They had verbally and emotionally abused her, destroying Leelah’s self-esteem and sense of self-love. Leelah was sent to Christian conversion therapy in an effort for her to accept her designated sex. After she expressed interest in her male classmates, her parents pulled her from public school and cyber-schooled her. She was cut off from all forms of communication, including that from her friends, and alienated for five months. After the emotional trauma imposed upon her, Leelah turned to what she believed was her only answer: suicide. She was seventeen. In her suicide note (which has since been taken down at her parents’ request), she stated: “My death needs to mean something.” 

Just a few days ago, Zander Mahaffey took his own life. He, too, left a suicide note on Tumblr, detailing his mother’s refusal to accept him, lack of support from others, and many forms of abuse, including sexual, verbal, and psychological. On Sunday, February 15, Zander committed suicide. He was only fifteen years old.

A recent survey by Pace showed that 48% of trans youths have attempted to commit suicide. This number is staggering, especially when paired with the statistic that LGBTQ+ youths who were not supported by their loved ones were more than eight times likely to have attempted suicide. 

I cannot stress this enough: the worst thing that you can do to your transgender child/brother/sister/cousin/friend is to not support them. Whether this means that you misgender them, mock them, attempt to ‘reform’ or ‘convert’ them, abuse them, or show any reaction that isn’t love and acceptance, you are causing more damage than you or the trans person ever dreamed was possible. Please, love and support your transgender child. Contrary to popular belief, gender is not a choice and should not be treated as a lifestyle decision. It is not your place to tell someone what they can or cannot be, regardless of what your own beliefs allow. 

Please, do not create another dead child with someone else’s name on their tombstone.


dancing through life@marzcoop
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