“Even though you go through some things, and you have some negative encounters in your life, anything is possible, you can do anything you set your heart to.”

Blake Brockington was an incredible human being.

In just eighteen years of life, he became an activist with international recognition. In 2014, he was responsible for organizing a number of rallies against police brutality and was also an open role model about his transgender experience.

He was a visionary. He chose the name “Blake” because it came to him in a dream. He felt it was masculine. Strong. He believed the world could be a better place, and that we all had gifts to give in the building of that world.

He was incredibly brave. When he came out, he was only in the 10th grade. When he family didn’t support him, he left them behind, moving in with a foster family and working towards social and surgical transition. Last summer, he became the first out transgender homecoming king, to international acclaim.

But he struggled, too. He described to media outlets the darker side of his homecoming title–the hatred and vitriol he encountered on the internet. Blake struggled with suicidal thoughts and self-harm in addition to the all-too-common struggles of people on the trans spectrum. Two months before his death, he wrote on his blog:

Even if I got better in my head, I would never want to continue on in a world like this.

Like so many others, Blake was denied his autonomous dignity even in death; his birth family published an obituary using his former name and ignoring his pronouns.

Josh Buford, assistant director for sexual and gender diversity at the local university, discussed Blake’s death as part of a larger systemic issue:

What happened to Blake is part of a systemic problem, especially for trans students of color. He didn’t quit. He didn’t give up. … He’s a victim of what happens every single day to these kids.”

Just weeks before Blake committed suicide on March 23rd, the local council in Charlotte, North Carolina where Blake lived and attended school, rejected a proposed ordinance to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender, claiming the bill would allow pedophiles who were biologically male the ability to assault women and children in public washrooms.
(Canada recently went through a similar conflict over anti-discrimination legislation, with similar “concerns” raised and with a nearly identical result.)
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Blake Brockington was the eighth trans suicide of 2015 (that was covered extensively in North American media). He was eighteen years old.
Rest in power, Blake.

 

For a more full list of those being commemorated for Transgender Day of Remembrance this year, click here. 

To view the other posts in my Transgender Week of Remembrance series, click below:
Sunday | Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday | Friday | Saturday

If you’re trans and struggling, please don’t feel hopeless. If you need help coping with suicidal thoughts, click here. If you are at risk and need to talk, call TransLifeLine: +1 (877) 330-6366 in Canada, or +1 (877) 565-8860 in the US.

If you’re looking for a distraction from your brain, click here to follow a line, or here to get a lot of hugs, or here to paint like Jackson Pollock.