Kyler Prescott, an accomplished pianist and activist for marriage equality and animal rights in San Diego, Calif., died by suicide on May 18. The transgender boy was 14 years old.
Prescott's family was supportive of his identity, and attended local support groups for family members of trans youth. Prescott's "grief stricken" parents have given Kathie Moehlig, a friend the family met through those support groups, permission to speak on the Prescotts' behalf, reports San Diego Gay & Lesbian News.
Prescott came out to his family as trans "a few years ago," reports SDGLN. His parents respected his wishes and referred to him using male pronouns, even asking the young man if he wanted the family to remove childhood photos of him wearing more feminine clothes.
"Some teens when they come out, they come out and that's it," explained Moehling. "Other teens tend to flow between the genders. He chose male pronouns, but was completely comfortable with the family still having all the pictures up of his childhood. Because in Kyler's world a guy can wear a dress."
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Although Prescott was occasionally misgendered by others and struggling with the general emotional turbulence of being a teenager, SDGLN stressed that the 14-year-old was "well supported within most of his life ... overall, Kyler was met with acceptance and approval."
The teenager struggled with the onset of puberty, Moehlig explained, pointing out that one's body developing in conflict with one's internal identity can be stressful and traumatic for transgender youth. Medical interventions, commonly known as hormone blockers, are sometimes available to delay the onset of puberty in trans youth, but it's unclear whether that was an intervention Prescott was seeking, or even desired.
Prescott was involved in local youth groups in San Diego, including at the North County LGBTQ Resource Center, the youth group in San Diego's LGBT neighborhood of Hillcrest, and the Transforming Family support group.
Since preschool, Prescott had been an outspoken advocate for animal rights, reports SDGLN. The Prescott family had a "small little zoo," according to SDGLN, which helped the teenager foster his connection to animals. He also enjoyed sketching and writing stories and poetry. In addition, Prescott was an accomplished pianist -- a fact demonstrated by a photo displayed at a Friday memorial at the San Diego LGBT Community Center, showing Prescott seated at a piano, his long fingers gracing the white keys. The trans pride flags at the Center flew at half mast this weekend in honor of Prescott's memory.
Prescott's death is the third reported trans young person to die by suicide in the greater San Diego area since March. Taylor Alesana, a 16-year-old transgender girl, took her life on April 2, while a gender-nonconforming teenager named Sage, also died by suicide in early March. Both Alesana and Sage were reportedly involved with the North County LGBTQ Resource Center, where Prescott also attended various group meetings.
Nationwide, Prescott is the 11th reported suicide of a transgender youth this year, in an "epidemic" that trans advocates say sees far more casualties than make headlines. Earlier this month, 15-year-old Cameron Langrell of Racine, Wis., took her own life just days after coming out as trans on social media. 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.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the Prescott family offset funeral costs.
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.