On Tuesday, transgender rights advocate and comedian Red Durkin started the hashtag #RealLiveTransAdult — a conversation that encouraged transgender men and women to share their stories with transgender teenagers.
If you're a trans teen and you can't imagine your life going forward, I'm 31 years old and I work in a bookstore. I'm a #RealLiveTransAdult
— Red Durkin (@RedIsDead) December 30, 2014
In case you think there's no future , I'm a #RealLiveTransAdult & I'm 42. I work as a marine electronics engineer & have 3 kids and a wife.
— Justine Smithies (@JustineSmithies) December 30, 2014
Found myself at 26, started transition at 28. First years were rough but now I've never been happier or more optimistic. #RealLiveTransAdult
— eiridescent ✨ (@eiridescent) December 30, 2014
Durkin — who came out as transgender and began to transition at age 19 — created the hashtag in response to the suicide note left by transgender 17-year-old Leelah Alcorn, born Joshua. Alcorn died Sunday in Ohio after jumping in front of a trailer-tractor. The realization that Alcorn most likely committed suicide because she was transgender came to light when a suicide note was discovered Monday on her Tumblr account. There, she wrote:
“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.”
In an email, Durkin further explained the reasoning behind #RealLiveTransAdult:
“She was 17 and had no hope for her future. I wanted to put something out into the world to show trans kids that there is chance for a happy life waiting for them. I remember feeling the same way when I was young. If there’s a way to cut through that despair for young trans people today, I want to do what I can to help them see a future ahead of them that isn’t hopeless.”
According to The Trevor Project — a national organization that provides services for crisis intervention and suicide prevention to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning young people ages 13 to 24 — nearly 50 percent of transgender youths have thought about suicide. Those searching for help can call 1-866-488-7386.