Taylor Alesana, a 16-year-old transgender student from Fallbrook, Ca., tragically took her own life earlier this month after being bullied online and at school. Now, Twitter is honoring her memory and her struggle by tweeting the hashtag #HerNameWasTaylor.
Over the past few months, Alesana documented her struggle with bullying on her YouTube channel, where she uploaded vlog posts and makeup tutorials. In her first video, she describes coming out as transgender in ninth grade and being bullied for wearing feminine clothing to school.
“I fear for anyone that’s even just a little bit different. They know what bullying is like,” she says in the video.
Alesana was found dead at her family’s home on April 2, according to a statement from the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.
News of Alesana’s passing comes at the tail end of a number of similar tragic deaths in the transgender community, beginning with the the Dec. 28 death of Leelah Alcorn. Since then, at least six trans teens have taken their own lives, many of them leaving behind public notes online, an act that has left mourners grappling with ways to pay tribute to the victims without exalting their actions.
People on Twitter are honoring the memory of Alsana and other bullied transgender teens by tweeting the hashtag #HerNameWasTaylor. The hashtag is a continuation of a February tribute to 15-year-old Zander Mahaffey, who took his own life after posting a 3,000-word note on Tumblr, leading other Tumblr users to mourn his death with the tag “his name was Zander.”
#HerNameWasTaylor another trans teenager gone. When will this issue matter? When will we deal with the consequences? People are dying.
— HollyBaer, one word (@HawliBear) April 9, 2015
While an outcast among her peers at school, Alesana developed a substantial online following for her YouTube channel. In one striking video last December, Alsana appeared without makeup, apologizing to her viewers for not looking like her normal self.
“I know it’s kind of shocking seeing me like this. It might be a little sad for some people,” she said. “But I’ve had a very hard last couple of weeks.”
She continued: “It’s sad… I feel I had to go back in the closet and dress like a boy, and cut my hair off and my nails off. I did this for my own protection.”
Fallbrook High School released a statement last Wednesday, which did not refer to Alesana by name. “We are attempting to honor the family’s request for privacy while also helping our students and staff who have been impacted by this sad event,” the school said.
The North Country LGBTQ Resource Center also released a statement honoring Alsana’s memory. “As a transgender teen she was constantly picked upon, bullied and attack by her peers,” the blog post said. “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.”
If you need to speak to counselors with experience dealing with transgender issues, contact Trans Lifeline at (877) 565-8860 (U.S.) or (877) 330-6366 (Canada).
Screengrab via XxTayloralesanaxX/YouTube