2013 Aug. 9: Transgender youth suicide in Johannesburg

by Lerato Dumse

On the 1st of August 2013, a 17 year old self identifying transgender (youth) was one of the approximately 23 suicides reported daily in South Africa with 230 serious attempts. He hanged himself.  According to the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG), “hanging is the most employed method of suicide.”

This was not his first attempt. The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) estimates that 20-50 percent of those who succeed are not first timers. Diagnosed with having depression, he was part of the 60 percent of people with depression who commit suicide in South Africa.

His biggest angst was being born with a female body. He had expressed his need to feel comfortable with his body. Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital was to provide his life changing surgery, but they had turned him away repeatedly appointment after appointment since May 2013. With only his blood being drawn for tests, he died with the process having not started.

On Friday, 9th Aug. 2013 I attended his funeral in KwaThema township, Ekurhuleni.  While many celebrated National Woman’s Day in South Africa, a mother was burying her child.
However, unlike most LGBTI funerals which are often crowded and loud, his was small, intimate and full of tears. Described as someone who was always smiling as well making others smile, enjoyed building his muscles and lover of fashion.

Part of the Mother’s letter read was a message to the community at large.
“Let’s stay strong in the Lord and his mighty power, love our children and raise them in a way that will add value to their lives. Parents, don’t move from your places no matter the circumstances, you will wear the heavenly crown for a job well done.”

Suicide among lgbti youth, states that researchers have found that suicide among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) youth is comparatively higher than among the general population.

The are lesbian and gay organizations in his township, however 88 kilometers separate him from an organization that deals with transgender issues Transgender and Intersex Africa.

There are lesbian and gay organizations in KwaThema township in Ekurhuleni. However 88 kilometers separated him from  organizations that deal with transgender issues are Transgender & Intersex Africa (TIA) and Out LGBT Well Being both in Tshwane. Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action (GALA) provides reliable reading material but is 40 kilometers away.

Clinical social worker Caitlin Ryan from Family Acceptance Project (California State University, San Francisco) conducted the first of its kind study of the effects of family acceptance and rejection on health, mental health and well being of lgbt youth, including suicide, HIV and homelessness. Part of their findings was that, “parental acceptance, and even neutrality, with regard to a child’s sexual orientation can bring down the attempted suicide rate.”

Some advocates support Intervention implemented at the stage when a person is already suicidal (such as crisis hotlines). While others say Programs should be directed at increasing LGBT youth’s access to factors found to be “protective” against suicide (such as social support networks or mentors).

Attempted and Suicide have large numbers, claiming so many victims. We always hear about it, yet it is such a silent and taboo issue. As communities we have very little understanding, knowledge and education on the subject.

NB:  *Please note that the exact names of the late person are reserved for privacy but most of all to respect the family and relatives at this time of sadness.

Related articles

2013 March 12: Trans(parent) interview


2013 March 30: A response to Definitely Not Gaysbian article


Previous by Lerato Dumse

2013 July 14: Zozo’s family silenced by ‘mourners’


30 July 2013:  Many a truth told in jest


This entry was posted in Evidence, Lord, Mourning, Provision of health care for Transgender community in SA, Questions & Answers, Religion, Silence, We Are You, We Care, We Still Can with/out Resources, We were (t)here, Writing is a Right, Youth voices and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to 2013 Aug. 9: Transgender youth suicide in Johannesburg

  1. Pingback: 2013 Sept. 21: Hate crime case solved after 4 years | inkanyiso.org

  2. Pingback: 2013 Oct. 13: Frustrations of a transgender man | inkanyiso.org

  3. Pingback: 2013 Oct. 18: Transition is in your hands | inkanyiso.org

  4. Pingback: 2014 May 30: I was a boy who would one day grow up to be a man | inkanyiso.org

  5. Pingback: A Response to “Frustrations of a transgender man | Transgender and Intersex Africa

  6. Pingback: Making space for LGBTQI people where the street and constitution diverge | The Daily Vox

  7. Pingback: 2015 July 18: Photographs, writing and poetry remain as powerful reminders | inkanyiso.org

  8. Having read this I thought it was vey informative.
    I appreciate youu taking the timje and energy to put this
    shodt article together. I once again find myself spending a significant
    amount of time both reading and leaving comments.
    But so what, it was still worth it!

  9. Pingback: #PinkStone | Transgender youth suicide in Johannesburg

  10. Pingback: 2016 Sept.13: My Path to Freedom and love for Self | inkanyiso.org

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s