Transgender teen who spoke on YouTube of bullying takes her own life
A 16-year-old transgender girl from northern San Diego County who spoke on YouTube about being bullied at school has reportedly taken her own life.
Taylor Alesana, a student at Fallbrook High School, committed suicide last week, according to the North County LGBTQ Resource Center in Oceanside.
Taylor made a name for herself on YouTube, where she posted makeup tutorials and spoke of intense cyberbullying and the loneliness she experienced because of her gender identity.
“I’ve lost tons of friends, tons,” she said in a video posted in November. “And it’s been hell. I go to school every day, and I get my lunch and I sit down alone.”
Taylor is the second teenager who attended youth support groups at the North County LGBTQ Resource Center to commit suicide in recent weeks, said the center’s executive director, Max Disposti. Letters and artwork mourning the loss of a teenager named Sage -- who killed himself in early March -- are still displayed in the center, Disposti said.
“We’re devastated,” Disposti said.
Disposti said he has been in close contact with Taylor’s family and was planning a candlelight vigil for her. Taylor spoke openly about her struggles at school -- which continued after she told school staff -- and Disposti worried about her, he said.
“She was happy to be who she was but was struggling with the fact that people didn’t accept her,” Disposti said. He hoped other students would learn that “it’s not OK to make fun of someone because their gender identity is different from what they were assigned at birth.”
“Transgender kids know who they are,” Disposti said. “They are not confused. They are not struggling with their gender identity.”
In a statement released Wednesday, Fallbrook High School referred to a student who “tragically passed away during the spring break” on April 2. The statement did not name Taylor.
“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, adding that it had counselors on site and “a continuum of appropriate services … to ensure every student is supported and successful.”
Taylor spoke on YouTube about wearing headphones when she walked through the hallway and about bouncing between friend groups.
In her first video posted in October, in which she spoke straight into a camera with a poster of Marilyn Monroe taped on the wall behind her, Taylor said she had recently moved to Fallbrook with her family and was starting her transition. She showed off a pink button on her purse that said “She Her Hers” -- her preferred pronouns, she said.
“I feel for anyone that’s even just a little bit different,” she said, nodding. “They know what bullying is like.”
In a later video, she was defiant: “My biggest advice to anyone who’s transgender and struggling? You’re becoming yourself.”
On Thursday, Twitter users mourned Taylor’s death using the hashtag #HerNameWasTaylor.
“Taylor was a beautiful and courageous girl, and all she wanted was acceptance,” the North County LGBTQ Resource Center said in a statement, urging schools to “teach inclusiveness and acceptance” and to “get educated on gender identity and sexual orientation.”
The stories shaping California
Get up to speed with our Essential California newsletter, sent six days a week.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.