“Every human walks around with a certain kind of sadness. They may not wear it on their sleeves, but it’s there if you look deep.” -Taraji P. Henson
A transgender teenager threw himself in front of a train. If you know the right people, have liked the right pages on Facebook or follow the right people on Twitter, you have heard about him. It’s a tragedy. Any time a person takes their own life, it’s devastating. That a child who had his entire life ahead of him felt like he had no other choice breaks my heart. As a teenager he was out of options. He felt he had nowhere to turn.
I have encountered his story in news articles, in Facebook groups and even here in blogs. I’ve read commentaries made by parents of transgender children. I’ve read articles written by people who are not familiar with transgender people. In some, the parents are quoted. And in some they are not. Sometimes the correct pronouns are used. Sometimes they are not. It’s driving me crazy!
Here’s what we know- a transgender teenager killed himself by stepping in front of a speeding train and now he is gone. He was obviously suffering greatly.
Are his parents to blame? I don’t know. I don’t have anything to go on. I don’t know how long his parents knew that their child was transgender. I don’t know if they were supportive or not. I don’t know if they were truly trying or not. I don’t know what they knew about being transgender or if they even understood what it meant. I don’t know if they turned their backs on him. I don’t know if they truly believed he was transgender or suicidal or what.
Was his extended family supportive? Did they know? What was his support system like? Did he have one? I don’t know any of these things.
People are passing judgment on his parents. People are looking for someone to blame. People are trying to cope. I get that.
As a parent of a transgender child, it makes me feel scared and angry and helpless. Whether transgender or not, it is very terrifying to hear that your child has thought about suicide. Your blood runs cold. Your heart seizes up. You suddenly cannot swallow the huge boulder of a lump in your throat. In your paralyzing fear, you are trying to get your limbs to move- to race to your child and hold him in your arms and keep him safe.
I know this because 8 months ago I sat in a psychiatrist’s office and heard him ask Kris, “Do you still have thoughts of suicide?” Wait, what, STILL??? His answer- “Yes.” I won’t share any of the conversation that followed his admission. I will never forget it.
And so, someone’s child is gone. He will never know the full potential of who he could have been. He barely experienced his life at all. And he had a mere few seconds of living in the gender he knew he was. We will never know the great things he could have done, the awesome man he was going to grow into being. It’s his loss. The world’s loss. And regardless of where his parents, family and friends fell in the equation- their loss.
I can’t sit here and judge who failed and where the blame lays. I can only grieve for a child who is gone much too soon.