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Transgender advocates plan rally in support of Leelah Alcorn

Transgender advocates plan rally in support of Leelah Alcorn

This Saturday, transgender advocates will hold a rally in memory of Leelah Alcorn, a 17 year old trans woman who took her life late last year.

The rally will be held at Queen Elizabeth II Square in Britomart at 2pm, and will march up Queen Street to Aotea Square.

The organisers are asking the public to reflect on the treatment of transgender people in light of Leelah Alcorn’s death.

Jen Shields, an Auckland-based advocate, says, “Leelah Alcorn suffered massive abuse from her parents and bullying in school, both influenced by the culture of transmisogyny our society operates under.”

She argues that a lack of sex and gender education in school creates an environment in which queer and trans students receive no acknowledgement or attention.

“Currently sex and gender education is optional in NZ, with many principals believing they have no queer or trans students in their schools.”

“We don’t even have a clear idea of how safe or accepting schools are for queer and trans students,” she says. “We found out in a recent review that the Education Review Office doesn’t investigate this factor or report on it.”

Ms Shields says, “Young trans people suffer heightened rates of depression, self-harm, and suicide”

They also report lowered rates of support from parents and friends, and higher rates of fear of being harmed at school.

“Teaching gender in schools will go a long way towards beginning to dismantle this culture of transphobia and transmisogyny, and improving the living conditions of trans youth in our country.”

In the note left on her tumblr blog, Leelah wrote about how she lived through “10 years of confusion” before learning about transgender identities at age 14. She expressed the wish that gender be taught in schools, “the earlier the better”.

Ms Shields says that it’s time for New Zealand to proactively teach gender in schools.


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