I Lost My Son. Support L.G.B.T.Q. Youth

Jane Clementi, the mother of Tyler Clementi, discusses anti-transgender rights bills in state legislatures. 

To the Editor:

Re “Transgender Teenagers Brace for Flurry of Bills Set to Curb Their Rights” (news article, March 13):

As a mother who lost my son, Tyler Clementi, to suicide after he was bullied for being gay, I know that the language and sentiment around L.G.B.T.Q. children can be a matter of life and death. Just the act of introducing anti-trans bills like those in Idaho into public discourse has the potential to be damaging to thousands of transgender children nationwide. And the effects could be more far-reaching if these bills are passed.

Not only is it wrong for elected officials to try to dictate and control the very personal journey that trans youth face, but it is also incredibly harmful for them to hear their unique identities discussed and codified as if something is wrong with them. This language can only be described as bullying.

There is scientific evidence that this kind of rejection from society is connected to the suicides of these young people. We have to ask, Do these so-called advocates and legislators want these young people to die?

It is appalling for trans youth to be subject to debate over whether they deserve to express their identities openly and safely. Debating their worthiness to live as themselves is dehumanizing.

Credit…Kim Raff for The New York Times

These Americans should be able to make their own decisions based on their identities and lived experiences. We must continue to push back, not only against these policy proposals, but also against the damaging dialogue they precipitate, which questions some young people’s right to exist. I urge political leaders nationwide to publicly denounce these bills and oppose their passage.

Jane Clementi
New York
The writer is co-founder and chief executive of the Tyler Clementi Foundation.