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As I see it: Brave Caitlyn Jenner an example to us all

By Susie Green

Published 06/06/2015

Caitlyn Jenner in Vanity Fair
Caitlyn Jenner in Vanity Fair

Around four years ago, I was in the pub having a drink with my boyfriend and the phone rang. I answered and the woman on the other end burst into tears. Three days before she called me, she walked into her 10-year-old daughter's bedroom and found her trying to hang herself. Her daughter told her that she couldn't live anymore as a freak and that she would prefer to be dead.

And the reason that her daughter felt that way was because she was born male. Her daughter is transgender.

I invited her round to meet me and my daughter the following day. As the chair of Mermaids UK - a charity that supports kids with gender issues and their families - being involved in such situations is a huge part of my life.

Her daughter met my daughter, Jackie, who was 17 at the time. My daughter is also transgender. She has suffered a lot due to prejudice and ignorance, but she has survived.

In spite of seven suicide attempts between the ages of 11 and 13, my daughter is now 21 and enjoying life. My friend's daughter is now 14 and, even with all the issues that being trans brings, has not made another attempt on her life.

However, as a group, young trans people under the age of 26 continue to be at risk - a survey conducted last year found that nearly half of them had attempted suicide in their lifetimes.

I know what you're probably thinking: what has this got to do with Caitlyn Jenner?

Caitlyn's transition has made a huge impact. She has hidden her true self for years to try to protect her family and she knew that she could not reveal herself without the media attention.

Hats off to her for the classy and incredibly stylish pictures in Vanity Fair. And for her honesty.

So many people are talking about her. Some are saying that it is privilege that has allowed her to transition so well.

So what? She has that money because she worked hard for it. And, frankly, she is raising awareness and understanding so that people like my daughter and others not so fortunate have the chance to live a better life, with more empathy and less hate. How can that be a bad thing?

We hear it all the time - having more visible transgender role models is something we should always be striving towards.

But rarely do we hear about why it matters in human terms and how it actually affects young trans people.

Belfast Telegraph

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