It is with a heavy heart that I offer Safe Passage to 17 year old Skylar Lee, of Madison, WI, who took his own life on this day ~ September 28, 2015. An active and powerful rising voice in the LGBTQ community, his light will be dearly missed. ~ Adam Lodestone
These words were spoken just yesterday, this time for Skylar Lee, the latest casualty in the silent war on the Transgender citizens of this country. Trans* people are killed everyday from hatred, disgust, lack of compassion, lack of empathy, violence, bullying, and abuse, by complete strangers or by their own hands.
Transgender youth aren’t just under served, they are virtually invisible on the American media landscape. There are no ice bucket challenges, no buying a cute little cutout at the grocery or gas station, no races to keep these kids off the streets when families turn their backs and send them out into the world unprepared with nowhere to go and no clue how to survive.
According to a research report issued by UCLA’s Williams Institute, based on the results from the respondents of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey (NTDS). The survey was conducted in a joint effort of the National Gay and Lesbian Task force and the National Center for Transgender Equality. The findings are both staggering and heartbreaking.
Respondents who experienced rejection by family and friends, discrimination, victimization, or violence had elevated prevalence of suicide attempts, such as those who experienced the following:
- Family chose not to speak/spend time with them: 57%
- Discrimination, victimization, or violence at school, at work, and when accessing health care
- Harassed or bullied at school (any level): 50-54%
- Experienced discrimination or harassment at work: 50-59%
- Doctor or health care provider refused to treat them: 60%
- Suffered physical or sexual violence:
- At work: 64-65%
- At school (any level): 63-78%
- Discrimination, victimization, or violence by law enforcement
- Disrespected or harassed by law enforcement officers: 57-61%
- Suffered physical or sexual violence: By law enforcement officers: 60-70%
- Experienced homelessness: 69%
Family Transcends is a fledgling nonprofit organization that is being built from the ashes of these staggering statistics of losses of life. Its senior staff have a set, sole focus to creating sibling-style mentoring partnerships, much like Big Brothers/Big Sisters, specifically aimed at at-risk transgender youth; understanding their unique and additional need for understanding, which greatly surpasses that of the average youth. With the intent of saving lives, Family Transcends mentoring and support structure , will be able to immediately impact the current suicide rates. Transgender suicide in this country accounts for over 45% of national deaths while the national average is less than 5%.
For those following me for a while, you’ll notice several changes with my blog. Starting with the name but especially the content. The things that are dear to my heart that I am passionate about are what I prefer to write as they are labors of love not tasks or obligations. I am both pleased and proud to announce that I am a contributing writer for their blog site Family Transcends News where this piece will be shared, along with volunteering in other ways to help get their program up and running.
In his own words from the Power In Partnerships publication:
WE CANNOT SEPARATE THE CONVERSATION BETWEEN RACIAL
JUSTICE AND LGBTQ JUSTICE when our oppression and liberation are interconnected with one another. Our identities are intersectional simply because we exist; to say that they are separate enforces White supremacy, creating a culture where it is acceptable for queer and trans POC to be invisible and pushed out of society. We must understand intersectionality to truly be a united force in the fight to dismantle these systems of oppression.
Being East-Asian, specifically Korean, with light skin, able-bodied, and being born a citizen of the U.S., I experience a huge privilege within our education system. I understand that if I was not queer and trans, I would not have been impacted by the pipeline. I also understand that I have still not been as severely impacted by the pipeline as those whom I share community with.
In my activism in racial justice and queer justice, I work with queer youth of color every day who have experienced push out or are actively being pushed out of school. The direct and indirect ways the School-to-Prison Pipeline have impacted me gives me greater awareness to the urgency of creating programs to combat the pipeline.
It is not justice if we leave behind members of our communities. It is not justice if we ignore the interconnected oppression of those we share community with. It is compliance to the systems that tell us we must fight against each other to uplift our own identity. To dismantle systems of oppression, we must be more creative than our oppressors. We are all socialized to protect these systems, a thought pattern we must actively fight against every moment. One cannot dismantle a system by working within it; rather, one must break outside the limitations of the system itself.
To begin the journey to unification, we must actively and loudly address our own privilege, power, and prejudice. No one can do this perfectly, including myself. We make mistakes, and it is never easy. However, we must never shy away from talking about intersectionality in our activism, for that is exactly what the systems have socialized us all to do. If we do not actively have these hard conversations around racial and queer identities, they will never be addressed nor recognized, and the systems will only maintain their power. I challenge everyone to start their own journey to self-awareness and actively participate in these conversations revolving around racial justice and queer justice.
~ Skylar Lee
This country has lost too many people to the hands of inflicted sorrow, anguish and torture. These victims are our kids.
I will not feel remorse for expressing my own personal commentary that if you can turn your child away for the way he was born due to your own genetics, you shouldn’t have been a parent in the first place; You are an unfit parent and I pity any remaining children in the home.
Demand that this news is news, that we recognize it for the national epidemic that it is and work our hardest to eradicate these staggering statistics. If you are interested in donating time, talent or funds to Family Transcends to help get them up and running, please click on the link here, or connect with another organization locally or nationally; all of whom would be grateful for your caring just as much as your efforts. We can handle this problem, but we need to be aware of it and we need to want to. Please help to keep another Skylar Lee or Leelah Alcorn from becoming an invisible statistic.