[Trigger Warning: Discussions of suicide] Some sad news today, folks. One year after becoming his school's first transgender homecoming king, trans teen Blake Brockington has died of an apparent suicide in Charlotte, North Carolina at the age of 18. He was an outspoken advocate for trans rights, and he will be missed.
Brockington was assigned female at birth; he came out as trans to his teachers and family members when he was in 10th grade, but his family refused to accept his gender identity. He told the Charlotte Observer, “My family feels like this is a decision I made. They think, ‘You’re already black, why would you want to draw more attention to yourself?’ But it’s not a decision. It is who I am. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.”
However, after he began living with a foster family, Brockington was able to get support and counseling, and began transitioning. He chose the name Blake after it came to him in a dream because he liked how masculine it sounded.
In 2014, Brockington was nominated for homecoming king of East Mecklenburg High, and won thanks to a charity fundraising competition during which he raised over $2,000. He is believed to be the first openly trans person on a homecoming court in Charlotte, and after graduation he spoke out frequently about trans rights. He passed away Monday night of an apparent suicide.
There have been numerous stories in the news recently of trans teens taking their own lives, including Leelah Alcorn and Zander Mahaffey, among others. In the wake of Leelah Alcorn's death and heartbreaking suicide note, trans adults began tweeting with the hashtag #RealLiveTransAdult in an effort to give young trans people hope for their futures, and trans celebrities such as Laverne Cox have spoken out about the tragedy, and attempted to draw further attention to the problem.
Sadly, despite these efforts, it will most likely be a long time before all trans teens feel accepted, loved, and hopeful about their futures. The trans community has a rate of suicide and attempted suicide that is almost ten times the national average. About 46 percent of trans men and 42 percent of trans women attempt suicide at least once, compared to only 4.6 percent of the population as a whole. Rates of suicide and attempted suicide are higher still among trans people of color, as well as trans people with disabilities, trans people who have experienced discrimination from health care providers or law enforcement, who have experienced physical or sexual violence, or who have been rejected from their families.
As Blake Brockington himself said, “If we plan to change the system as a whole, we have to change the system together. We have to address all these problems at once — misogyny, patriarchy, LGBT issues, race issues. We have to address everything at once if we plan to change the system at all.”
Brockington was an outspoken advocate for trans rights; he also participated in protests in Charlotte, including a die-in in December and spoke at last year's Transgender Day of Remembrance.
He told the Charlotte Observer in January, "Trans people are still people. Our bodies just don’t match what’s up [in our heads]. We need support, not people looking down at us or degrading us or overlooking us. We are still human.” You can see a video he made for the Observer below.
If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide you can find help here:
Trans LifeLine: (877) 565 8860
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1 (800) 273 8255
Images: Getty Images