Now he's dead, an apparent suicide.
What went wrong? The one-word answer: hate.
Blake Brockington transitioned during his sophomore year in East Mecklenburg High School in Charlotte, North Carolina. In January, he recounted his struggles of coming to terms with his identity and finding acceptance. "When I got my period," he recalled, "my aunt told me, 'Welcome to womanhood'. I was like Nooo!" He was forced to wear dresses to church and family events.
He "came out" to his teachers and stepmothers. "My family feels like this is a decision I made," he said. "They think, 'You're already black, why would you want to draw more attention to yourself?'" But, he explained, "It's not a decision. It is who I am. I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy."
Things got so bad that he moved in with a foster family. With their support, he got counseling and started his transition. But, it seems, the damage had already been done. Even being crowned the homecoming king had its price: "Really hateful things were said on the Internet." It was hard, he said, to "see how narrow-minded the world really is."
Blake, though, experienced something worse than the narrow-mindedness of the world: narrow-mindedness in his family. In that, his story parallels that of Leelah Alcorn, the Ohio trans girl who, at age 17, killed herself in December.
W.H. Auden wrote, "We must love one another or die." He knew, as well as anybody, that hate kills. That is why I will now call the deaths of Leelah Alcorn and Blake Brockington what they are: murders. They were killed by those who hated them, even if those people didn't lift a finger to hurt them. Those same people did not give them the love and support they needed, and that we all need.