Transgender teen in California kills self after bullying

A 16-year-old transgender girl who spoke on YouTube about being bullied at school in Southern California killed herself, a support group said, raising questions about what educators can and should do to support students who change gender identity.Taylor Alesana was constantly picked on by peers before taking her life last week, the North County LGBTQ Resource Center said.

The fears that students have of transgender youth actually stem from adults. If you’re not going change the attitude of the adults, you’re not going to change the attitudes of the kids.

Dorothy Espelage, professor of educational psychology at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Alesana is the second transgender teen who sought services at the North County LGBTQ Resource Center to die by suicide since March. A boy who took his life last month had a supportive environment at home and school, but he struggled with other issues, including his mother’s death. Alesana was unusually vocal about the challenges of being a transgender teen. James Garbarino, professor of humanistic psychology at Loyola University in Chicago, said transgender students are in a similar position as gay and lesbian students 10 or 20 years ago. Homophobic bullying remains a serious problem, but it has declined to the point that gays and lesbians are elected prom kings and queens.

With few adults to turn to, and with no support from her school, her life became too difficult. Taylor was a beautiful and courageous girl, and all she wanted was acceptance.

North County LGBTQ Resource Center