Just days after Racine, Wis., teen Cameron Langrell announced to friends and classmates online that she identified as a transgender girl, switching her Facebook gender identifier to "female," the 15-year-old took her own life at home on May 1.
The artistic freshman had faced incessant bullying at Horlick High School, family and friends told Racine's Journal Times. Enamored with singing, playing piano, dancing, and cheerleading, Langrell — who had also recently started dating a male classmate — apparently faced much teasing for appearing "feminine," according to her mother Jamie Olender. "We told [Cameron] be who you are," she said of the family's response.
Olender tells the Times that in the weeks before Langrell's death, she and Langrell's stepfather, Eric Olender, had noticed their child starting to skip school to avoid being harassed; when Langrell got home, however, she reportedly continued to face taunting on social media. When the parents asked to speak with the school about addressing the bullying, they say they received no response.
Now, the Olenders are calling on officials to be more proactive about bullying to stave off the kind of harassment their child endured. "There needs to be more within the school, not just some outside resource," Jamie Olender explained to Milwaukee news station WISN. "[Bullying prevention] needs to be taught in school."
Racine School District spokesperson Stacy Tapp issued a statement, saying, "We are heartbroken over the loss of Cameron and we are doing everything we can to support our Horlick High School family. We have programs across the district, at every age level for students."
Meanwhile, Langrell's death is the tenth reported suicide of a trans youth in the U.S. this year, in an "epidemic" that trans advocates say sees far more casualties than make headlines. Last week, gaming communities mourned the suicide of 23-year-old developer Rachel Bryk, while last month 15-year-old Michigan trans boy Sam Taub took their life. The highly publicized suicides of 18-year-old Charlotte, N.C., activist Blake Brockington, as well as that of 17-year-old trans girl Leelah Alcorn in Union Township, Ohio, last December, saw hundreds of thousands mourning worldwide.
If you are a trans or gender-nonconforming person considering suicide, Trans Lifeline can be reached at 877-565-8860. LGBT youth (ages 24 and younger) can reach the Trevor Project Lifeline at 1-866-488-7386. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 can also be reached 24 hours a day by people of all ages and identities.