Trigger Warning: Suicide and Trans stuff – have a link to some support lines.
The Jellicle Cat is a superhero in her spare time. She talks to a lot of trans people over the net. Sometimes she gets frustrated, sometimes she is hilarious and all the time she gives good advice.
Over the course of time on trans spaces online she has gotten to know people making life choices that range from the truly wise to the truly awful and everything in between. In between Christmas and New Year she was sat at her computer and she suddenly said “We lost one.”
We’d been waiting to be quite honest, or at least I had. She’d been typing away to so many people but we knew it was going to happen, someone, somewhere in the online trans community was going to find these holidays of mandatory family happiness way too much and they were going to decide to drop out for good. No one pays much attention, another member of another minority group/ subculture has found that the constant mainstream badgering of their life too much to bare and no one not a part of that group cares. We cry for a bit and then my superhero goes right on trying to keep the rest holding on.
The Jellicle stepped away from her computer for a bit after that.
As it happened though, it was Leelah Alcorn’s suicide. Which, for some reason, probably her parent’s lack of understanding or possibly the fact she used tumblr to subvert them, has captured the attention of all of the mass media in the US and UK.
Her parents, pretty sharpish, took down the note. It was heartbreaking and they’ve declared copycat suicide risk as their reason. Now, I cried when I read the damned thing, mainly because she thought it was too late for her to transition and pass after she moved out from her parents (she was sixteen and talked about moving out when she was eighteen). I just wanted to go back in time, shake her and tell her that it really wouldn’t be too late, or even that she could live happily as a transwoman who didn’t pass. Because that’d have been really useful coming from a ciswoman right? (Last sentence to be read, dripping with sarcasm.)
The thing is, this being the internet, her note is still available for all to read (though without the context of her tumblr which I feel really does disprove her mother telling us she’d totally given up the idea of being a girl…)
Now speaking as someone who has reacted to news of suicide by seriously considering it I get the problem of suicide ideation. There is a massive problem in a community rife with the sort of depression that meant that when the Jellicle said ‘We lost one,’ I knew that a transperson had killed themselves.
So yeah, careful in your reporting but given that her parents are still calling her by the name she crossed out in that tumblr post and still using the male pronoun their deletion of her post feels a bit like they’re trying to get rid of her and make her into the straight cis boy they made clear to her that they wanted. That being what she blamed her depression on. It feels like they’re still trying to hide her and I’m not even trans, I just love some people who are.
What am I trying to say? That I worry that out of respect for people’s lives, wellbeing and comfort we accept censorship of what needs to be know. That if the reason for taking down a suicide note asking us to ‘Fix Society’ so that the next Leelah Alcorn won’t step in front of a truck is actually going to mask the problem that she and others killed themselves in 2014 and it ignores the part of her note where she demanded to be counted, for her death to mean something. Gods I can’t explain how much I want to act on that last request of hers, I just don’t even know where to start, except by counting it and not trying to erase her.