How Leelah broke my silence

This day last year I was wrapping up my holiday by visiting my girlfriend.

This day last year Leelah Alcorn was wrapping up her short 17 years on this earth by stepping into traffic.
When I read Leelah’s suicide note, I realized I couldn’t just move on and not speak up. We all have that moment when the injustices of the world make us so sick we can’t slide by anymore. Leelah was calling out to us from the beyond with this message:

‘The only way I will rest in peace is if one day transgender people aren’t treated the way I was, they’re treated like humans, with valid feelings and human rights. Gender needs to be taught about in schools, the earlier the better. My death needs to mean something. My death needs to be counted in the number of transgender people who commit suicide this year. I want someone to look at that number and say ‘that’s fucked up’ and fix it. Fix society. Please.’

Her last plea, “Fix society. Please,” I took very personal. I felt like I had something to say, something that might change those that I could reach with my words. Change my piece of society. With the hope that transpeople especially transyouth would find a society that was willing and wanting to embrace them. So, I started writing. I wrote my first column about Leelah, as so many others were as well. We all took her up in our arms and spread her story. I think we all recognized that desperate cry, that desperate want for a society we could survive. With 41% of us attempting suicide, it’s clear she was not alone. Got that? Not thinking about suicide but actually attempting it.

After the outpouring for Leelah, we watched in horror as the number of murdered transwomen of color grew. The demand for justice grew louder and my mission begin to shift.

I started researching structuration theory and boundary control. I began to see how vital it was to my transsisters of color that our society change. In a radical way. The violence and discrimination transpeople face is based on boundaries created by a gender social structure that is limited to a binary. If we can shift the way we view gender from a binary to a spectrum, I believe we can help end some of this violence.

My mission for 2016 is to continue to breakdown the gender binary myth… because I’d like to one day live in a society where “transgender people are treated like humans.”

For Papi, Lamia, Ty, Michelle, Taja, Penny, Bri, Kristina, Keyshia, London, Mercedes, Jasmine, Ashton, India, K.C., Shade, Amber, Kandis, Elisha, Tamara, Keisha, Zella and Leelah.

“Gender likewise figures as a precondition for the production and maintenance of legible humanity.” – Judith Butler