A 16 year old transgender girl, Taylor Alesana, committed suicide after being bullied at school. Alesana regularly posted videos on Youtube, including a video in December describing her experience of discrimination. Alesana mentioned in the video that a student had posted a photo of her in a bathingsuit on Facebook, calling her a man and homophobic slurs. Alesana said the cruel post got 700 likes and over a hundred hateful comments. Alesana admits that she’d lost many friends, endured verbal and even physical bullying because she was ‘out’ as trans at school.
The December video is especially sad when she admits that she backtracked from her transition, taking off her makeup and cutting her hair into a more “masculine” cut. She claimed that she was going for a more androgynous look because of the bullying, since she didn’t feel safe around school. Alesana posted a few more makeup tutorials and videos since the December confession, but it’s clear that her situation didn’t improve. On April 2nd, Alesana committed suicide. Other details about her death remain private.
Unfortunately with these stories, there always seem to be people criticizing the criticism of bullying. Bullying has always happened and always will. Kids are so sensitive these days. If only [the deceased] had been a little stronger.
Yes, [the deceased] is at fault for taking their own life, but don’t act like you’re baffled at why they chose to do it. Suicide attempts among LGBT youth, especially those who are trans and out at school, are staggeringly high. They experience discrimination, bullying, and neglect at school. Puberty is hard enough as it is.
People can shake their heads and say “They could’ve been stronger” and “It gets better”, like those things actually mean in the thick of struggle. The worst part of that attitude is that it diminishes the blame from the bullies. Telling bullies to stop being awful is too hard. Telling them to be tolerant and try to understand transgender issues is too hard. Instead of taking on change for the good, we’re willing to accept the bad because 1) it doesn’t affect us and 2) we’re lazy. Teens are killing themselves, and all we can do is shrug and say “Bullies will be bullies.”
We’ve seen the same things for other problems. Why can’t I say the N word? Why can’t I catcall women? It’s too difficult for me to censor my terrible behaviour, they should grow thicker skin. It’s laziness in the face of progress. We know other people are hurting because of our actions (or lack thereof), but we put as much effort into improving as we do to doing the dishes. I’ll get to later.
While I would never believe I’m transphobic, I’ve experienced lazy thoughts that are definitely part of the problem. I’ve been silently frustrated by having to completely change pronouns for a person, like they’ve done it to make my day just a tad bit more difficult. But I always remember after that second of frustration that changing pronouns is not a real struggle – being trans in a stubborn world is.
We could teach more trans acceptance. We could have more representation of LGBT literature in schools. We could put effort into making schools a safe space for people. Or we could just sit here and do nothing. I’m sure we’ll get to it later.