In the past few years, media reporting on transgender issues has moved from rare and/or gawking to serious and respectful.
Because of press attention, many Americans now know that suicide is an enormous issue in the trans community. Over 40% of people identifying as transgender have attempted suicide — 92% of them before the age of 25.
But statistics are just numbers. Now, one of those suicides has struck very close to home.
Earlier this month, Emelia Worth killed herself at the Kent School. She was 18, and a few years earlier attended Saugatuck Elementary School. Students there knew her as Carl.
A few weeks before her death, Emelia had given a chapel talk to the school.
According to the Norwalk Hour, she said:
For once, I’ve actually chosen my words very carefully … Let me explain myself to you, not as Carl the experienced senior giving a chapel talk. But as Carl, the really scared child who is worried that they may have waited too long to get real.
After announcing she was battling depression, she said: “I am transgender. I puzzle every day why I came out a boy.”
Emelia’s mother, Elsa Worth, said that suicidal depression — not a lack of support from family, friends or school officials — led to her death.
Emelia — a 4-year class representative at Kent, senior prefect, orchestra and jazz band musician — had already been accepted to the Universities of New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Her mother told the Hour that she wanted to study linguistics and be a professor.
Worth also said that Emelia also planned to begin hormone treatments in March. The newspaper reported that Kent was planning to allow her to live in a girls’ dorm. No one there knew of any bullying.
Her death surprised a former Saugatuck El classmate. The boy — now a senior — had known Emelia as Carl: “an insanely good artist.” The two had camped out in New Hampshire as children, and played card games.
“I realized that he was gone. This kid who had only been happy, and made everyone around him happy, was dead because she was so sad.”
The senior says that at his public high school in Fairfield County (not Staples), there are 2 openly trans students.
“They are treated with the utmost respect,” he says. They can change in their own locker rooms if they choose, and use non-gendered bathrooms. Staples has the same options for trans students.
The senior says, “We treat our trans friends just like anyone else. They’re some of the nicest people I know.”
We’ll never know how much that feeling of being trapped in the wrong body contributed to Emelia’s depression. Sadly, we do know she leaves behind her mother and father (Steven), and brothers Bo and Orion.
Memorial services are set for Friday, February 10 (St. James Church, Keene, NH) and Tuesday, February 14 (Kent School). In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Emelia Carl ’17 Scholarship. Click here, or send to Kent School, PO Box 2006, Kent, CT 06757.