#RealLiveTransAdult Hashtag Starts After Trans Teen Leelah Alcorn's Tragic Death

[Trigger Warning: Discussion of suicide] Given that our society is really pretty awful when it comes to providing representation of trans people that's not based on stereotypes and misunderstandings, and that misunderstandings about trans people are so rampant, it's no wonder that trans teens often feel alone. Which is why the hashtag #RealLiveTransAdult that began on Twitter on Tuesday is such an important thing. Because it is possible for trans people to grow up to have careers, find supportive friends, and be happy. And that's a message that needs to be spread.

The hashtag sprang up in response to the tragic death of Leelah Alcorn, a trans teen who sadly committed suicide on December 28th. Alcorn left a suicide note on Tumblr that details her sense of isolation, the lack of support she received from her parents, and her feelings of hopelessness about the future, convinced she would never be able to transition or find happiness. Yet she also writes about her hope that someday the world could get better.

The note ends

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.

And it seems that the suicide note, which went viral on Tumblr, amassing nearly 200,000 likes and reblogs, has indeed provoked the kind of conversation Alcorn might have hoped to spring up, including a hashtag started by comedian and trans rights advocate Red Durkin on Twitter.

In an email to PBS, Durkin explained, "I wanted to put something out into the world to show trans kids that there is chance for a happy life waiting for them." And many more trans adults have joined in to share their own stories and perspective. Many write about being bullied as young people and even about still struggling today, but also about career success, loving romantic relationships, finding supportive friends and family, and appreciating and enjoying life as adults post-transition.

And in a country where rates of suicide among trans people are disproportionately high, this is the sort of thing that people, especially young trans people, need to hear. So if you are a young trans person feeling alone and hopeless, know that you are not alone, and that you absolutely deserve and can have a wonderful life. Take it from these #RealLiveTransAdults

You can find hundreds of more stories and words of encouragement by checking out the #RealLiveTransAdult hashtag on Twitter.

Also, if you or anyone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, know that there are resources that can help you, including the following:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (US): 1 (800) 273-8255

National Suicide Prevention Website: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

Trans Lifeline (US): (877) 565-8860

Trans Lifeline (Canada): (877) 330-636

Trans Lifeline Website: http://www.translifeline.org/