As I was preparing to write a post about this article Not One More: Protect and Empower Trans Youth that was shared in one of the parent Facebook groups, I saw it. Another one. Rest in Power Sam Taub 15 years old. Gone.
Do you remember 15? I sure do. I had a million secret crushes. My walls were plastered with my favorite heart throbs- Shaun Cassidy, Scott Baio, Leif Garrett. I spent hours on the phone with my best friend analyzing if the way some guy said hi or looked at one of us meant anything. I listened to the radio, played my cassettes and records. I read my favorite books over and over again. I hoped that maybe someday I would look more like a girl and less like a stick figure. I agonized over that first kiss, which would not happen for 2 more years. I thought being 15 was so hard.
I had it easy.
Transgender people, no matter what their age, don’t always have it that easy. Their worries at 15, 18, 22 are much different than your average young person at that same age.
Transgender youth are at a scary high percentage for being at risk of attempting suicide – 41%. And then in the article about Sam Taub I was introduced to a new stat- that it is estimated that 62% of reported trans suicides were boys between the ages of 15-24. GULP
As the mother of a trans guy who falls in that age range, my heart seizes. I can’t breathe. I panic. Once again, as is often the case when I hear of another transgender person lost, I want to hold onto Kris and never let him go.
I cannot stress strongly enough how important it is to support transgender youth -actually ALL trans people.
If you click on just 2 links as you read posts of other bloggers today, please make them these 2! I could cut and paste all the relevant parts but that would be the entirety of both articles. There are similarities between the two, as there should be. They both talk about transgender youth and suicide.
And if for whatever reason, you can’t, this is what stands out to me-
From Not One More–
“Supporting transgender and gender non-conforming youth in our communities can help prevent suicides. These young people aren’t taking their lives because they’re weak, or selfish, or because they are attention seeking. Many youth could have simply run out of resources. Perhaps they aren’t killing themselves because they’re transgender — they’re doing it because they are being treated as sub human, and because other people’s ignorance has made day to day life can be too painful to bear.”
“A recent Pew study found that only 8 percent of people have ever (knowingly) met a transgender person. And sadly, society has a very thinly veiled repugnance for many aspects of being transgender, and what they assume we must be like. There is an obsession with our genitalia, and what we have or haven’t done surgically. We are accused of mutilating our bodies, we’re interrogated about how we experience sex and sexuality, and it seems no question is off limits when people talk to and about us. We are vilified by society for simply wanting to relieve ourselves in the bathroom we feel safe in, and are painted as rapists, child predators, exhibitionists, etc. Transgender people are still working hard just to be seen as human beings to much of society, and until this is achieved, the most vulnerable among us are at constant risk.”
So, what can you do to support a transgender person? The following tips are a combination from both articles.
1. Listen with an open mind and a loving heart.
2. Provide them with a safe place to express themselves.
3. ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS respect their preferred name and gender pronouns and demand that same respect from others.
4. Support their transition.
5. Enlist professional support from experienced in transgender care- both medical and emotional.
6. Do NOT out them to others or suggest they not identify themselves as their true selves.
7. Do not judge their decisions. This is their life, not yours.
Be a TRUE ALLY! There’s a good chance you are saving a life!
The transgender community has chosen to remember those lost with a # campaign- #HerNameWas/#HisNameWas.
Don’t let another transgender person become the latest on this list of #HisNameWas #Her NameWas.
If you are a transgender or gender-nonconforming person considering suicide, Trans Lifeline can be reached at 877-565-8860. LGBT youth (ages 24 and younger) can reach the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 can also be reached 24 hours a day by people of all ages and identities.