Trigger warning: sucide, transphobia, bullying
Leelah Alcorn wasn’t the first trans youth to take her own life and unfortunately she won’t be last.
The life expectancy of a trans woman is 30 years old. Compare that with the global average of 70. After overcoming hurdles in the doctor’s office, school, church, work, and at home, trans women, especially trans women of color, still have to worry about simply existing in public. If you are a trans woman, just being in public can result in death.
Recently my home state of Oklahoma declared it unconstitutional to refuse same-sex couples the right to marry. White, cisgender, comfortably middle class gay men would be happy to believe marriage is the holy grail of the MOGAI movement and the Supreme Court’s support of gay marriage signals the “end of queer oppression” or something. Yes, the spread of marriage equality is a good thing. But marriage is NOT the finish line, not when queer youth are bullied into suicide, not when trans women are still tortured and killed.
We tell queer youth “It gets better” while expecting them to suffer through years of torment at school, church, and even in their own homes. Family, friends, and media make transphobic jokes and intentionally misgender transpeople; this is an act of violence and our community shouldn’t tolerate it. Queer youth shouldn’t carry the burden of relentless bullying by everyone in their lives; we must demand that things get better NOW. How many trans women have been lost? How many closeted trans women have taken their own lives? We may never know the true the number because family and media continually misgender them, even in death.
Even among queers, the issues most affecting white cisgender men receive precedence.
But before our community is completely whittled away by bullying and murder, we need to wake up. The queer community must stop acting like marriage is the end-all of MOGAI equality. Let’s band together to protect the most vulnerable among us. Let’s demand legal protections, better media representation, and healthy gender/sexuality issues curriculum in schools.
And to the parents of transgirls: Which do you prefer: a dead “son” or a healthy daughter?