News (USA)

North Carolina mom believes bullying led to transgender teen’s suicide

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Local LGBT community leaders in Charlotte, N.C., are responding with messages of support and encouragement, following the death Thursday of a transgender student.

Ash Haffner
Ash Haffner

Ash Haffner, 16, died by suicide on Thursday.

In an interview with WSOC, Haffner’s mother, April Quick, said Ash had been bullied in school, despite receiving support at home and at groups like Time Out Youth.

Time Out Youth’s executive director, Rodney Tucker, said his organization, which serves LGBTQ youth ages 11-20, is responding with support for other clients who knew Haffner.

“We have counselors and we’ve already reached out to school officials, the GSA [advisor] and the principal at the school,” Tucker said, adding that a counselor at the school will also be on hand.

Suicide risks for LGBT youth are significantly higher than those for straight peers, according ot advocates. Transgender youth, in particular, face higher risks, including risks of violence and bullying.

Tucker says TOY has responded with services to support transgender youth.

“It’s a rising population group in the space,” Tucker said. “We’ve added a transgender intern and started the Q-Tribe [transgender youth support] group.”

Additionally TOY is engaged in safe zone trainings at local schools, Tucker said. The trainings include trans-specific language and issues.

Paige Dula, founder of transgender support group Genderlines, was shocked to hear of the youth’s death.

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“My initial reaction was one of horror,” Dula said. “I always hate hearing of a young trans person taking their life. It breaks my heart.”

But Dula cautioned there are “a lot of factors that contribute to feelings of suicide.”

Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, also said she was taken aback by the news.

“I’m just heartbroken about all this violence of different kinds we’re seeing,” Keisling said, referring also to a recent increase in reports of violence against transgender people.

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