On Sunday, February 15 2015, the world lost another transgender teen, Zander Nicholas Mahaffey. He was from Georgia and only a mere 15-years old. His suicide note was posted on Tumblr, explaining the mentally abusive nature of his mother, experiences of sexual assault, and emotional trauma. “[If] there are any memorials for me,” Zander writes, “I want you both to make sure my right name and pronouns are used.”
But the funeral proceedings used only his birth name and female pronouns, causing a massive uproar in the media. Using #hisnamewaszander, people are doing all they can to do to uplift his identity and help the struggling youth of the transgender community. The Youth Suicide Prevention Program states that over 50% of transgender youth have had at least one suicide attempt by their 20th birthday.
Zander’s suicide note is hauntingly nostalgic of the recent downfall of Leelah Alcorn, another transgender teen who ended her life due to destructive unacceptance from her parents. Unlike Leelah, Zander does not ask for his death “to mean something.” He states, “I’m not noble, I’m not really trying to make this mean something huge. I’m just a coward who wanted to cut my strings and be free from my troubles.” But social media will not let this go, creating artwork to memorialize Zander and raise awareness of these situations.
On March 7th, Zander’s birthday, supporters will honor his memory by drawing a star on their wrists. Raise awareness and let transgender teens know we are here to fight this battle with them. In the worlds of Leelah Alcorn, “fix society.” Zander will not be forgotten.
If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts or depression there is help waiting:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Transgender Lifeline: 1-877-565-8860
The Trevor Project (LGBT): 1-866-488-7386