Taunts, struggles drives gifted UK trans woman to her death

Natasha Lauren Brown (Photo: News Group Newspapers)

THE GUERRILLA ANGEL REPORT — Hands down, suicide is among the most difficult thing for me to write about, but it is such a huge elephant silently stumbling around in the trans world, it does no good to any of us to ignore its presence.

Last July we were reminded again suicide can happen to the best of us when prominent Canadian trans activist Kyle Scanlon took his life. http://lexiecannes.wordpress.com/2012/07/12/toronto-canada-trans-community-leader-kyle-scanlon-dies/

Indeed, a recent and widely shared study indicated that upwards of 40% of trans people attempt suicide in their lifetimes (the cis population rate is under 2%). http://endtransdiscrimination.org/PDFs/NTDS_Exec_Summary.pdf

Just weeks ago there were a few discussions at social media websites where we saw “experts” claiming the trans suicide rate isn’t as bad as the study and us writers are making it out to be. If this is true, they need to make their case, backed up with evidence — not just merely denying a suicide problem exists.

It is said Staffordshire University (UK) student Natasha Lauren Brown began a downward spiral after she was taunted and beaten. Her life ended May 14, 2012 from liver failure after she ODed on paracetamol.

Although gifted, Brown struggled with depression and other issues throughout most of her teens. It was only in the last few years that she decided to officially move forward and change her gender identity. Even though Brown had contact with mental health professionals, her family believes their daughter would still be alive if the UK’s mental health services we better equipped to handle gender identity issues — something the family felt these professionals came up short on.

Brown’s mother:  “We’d just like to say we strongly believe the mental health services could have done more to help her than they did.”

Staffordshire University student union president Fiona Wood [commenting on the beating and bullying]:  “Some people just don’t understand the issue and how society can turn against the individual.”

Sadly, this type of ending is not uncommon and happens everyday — even in seemingly progressive countries like the United Kingdom and the United States. A reality check like this from time to time will ensure that the suicide problem continues to be worked on and not swept away out of sight.

A tribute to Natasha is here: http://www.flickr.com/groups/welshflickrcymru/discuss/72157629887893530/

Gifted Hanley student was killed by pills overdose | This is Staffordshire.

Natasha Lauren Brown (Photo: welshflickrcymru.com)

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Categories: Deaths, Murder, Law Enforcement, Police, Transgender, Transsexual, Trans

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

42 replies

  1. OMG, she was stunning, so beautiful. I fully understand where she feels in her life, I have tried and tried to get people to hear me, and yet every job interview is the same “We do not hire she-males”. I have tried to get mental health help both in south africa and in the UK, no dice…

    I blame this on the idiots that work in UK mental health.. if you do not fit a certain template of disease, you are not sick… As if the idiots are not able to think out of the box… The sad fact is, the free NHS is exactly what you pay.. free and you get poor quality healthcare. When it comes to trans-healthcare forget it, it is hit and miss, it is a akin to trying to untangle cooked spaghetti without breaking any….

    Such a beautiful waste, both her and mine, as I am not far behind.. Nothing left for me on this 3rd rock….

    • Justine there is always something to stay around for dont give up yet

    • Justine, I care about what happens to you. I care a lot. Don’t leave us. I’m reaching out my hand; please take it. It’s all I can offer, but I promise if you reach out, it will be there. You can find me on facebook as The Red Magnolia or just google me. It’s my business page, but from there, I’ll give you my private info.

    • Miss Justine, You are a beautiful wonderful person, and not one of the Bastiches that grind you down is worthy of you. I know that the Midlands is not the best place for beautiful flowers, (I should, Staffordshire’s not far from where I live) but it’s the good cards that keep you in the game. There’s got to be something, maybe an am-dram, maybe a bridge club, something to keep you in this life where we all belong.

      And it’s difficult and painful and confusing, but it’s worth it, when you find friends and kindred spirits. You are someone who deserves to live. Tell yourself that every morning.

      You are someone who deserves to live. :)

      • Hi Simon
        2 problems, 1 I cannot leave south africa for a while, I cannot get a passport, long story, and 2nd moving to the UK, way too expensive and having been there before in 2010, I know the situation, if I can barely afford my rent here in south africa, how will I afford rent in the UK?? The chance of me getting work, zero, I have a better chance of being preggy with Prince-no-clothes as the father!!!!

        So do I come there, spend the last of my money on a months rent, then go to the station and jump in front of a high speed train????? That would be a waste of a train driver’s career!!!

  2. I am a survivor of three attempts myself (Thank God!) It definitely is a problem that doesn’t get enough attention – unless one of us dies. I think, indirectly, as we gain visibility and gender identity as a protected category- the pressures that cause us to feel that there is no hope will dissipate. But that is a long slow road, the issue needs to be addressed short term as well!! Thanks for calling attention to this – Lexie.

  3. You’re welcome Liz!

    Justine, you still have a lot to contribute to the world! I know you’re going through a heck of a rough time, but at the time, you’re such a good writer that when you write about about the struggles of trans people, people learn.

  4. Who listens to me?? I have good ideas, no scratch that, great ideas, and no one wants my advice or input… Who am I any way.??? I am a nobody.. Just a fat stupid unemployed ugly transwoman… I am nothing, what I say does not matter…. My words mean nothing….. I have had to stop commenting on other forums as everything I said was wrong.. I am wrong…sorry.. the sooner Mr Death takes me, the better….

    • Justine, I am listening, Lexie is listening as are many others. You make good points and in a way that jars people awake. Some need that! In order for us to create change we have to put all our voices together – be visible and vocal. Don’t dispair, Hun – We need you!!

      • Thank you, here in south africa, no one wants to hear what I have to say, after 3 years of unemployment, I know that my chance of getting into any career at this point, I have a better chance of getting pregnant with Mitt Romney as the father…

        I accept that I made serious stupid mistakes and the sooner it ends, everyone on the 3rd rock will be better off…

    • Justine, I read what you write about every time I see your post. What you have to say makes an impact and shows up in my writings, just like the article I just wrote. People rarely respond to posts (in general), but they can see the struggles you go through so clearly that it’s impossible to brush it off without having learned something. As Liz said, don’t dispair, we need you!

      • The problem is, it is not helping my self esteem. You say you need me.. In what capacity? Over 1000 days and it is not getting any better, how many more days should I wait before it becomes obvious it is not going to improve? Should I wait until I reach 2000 days??? No thank you… I have reached breaking point.. I had a horrible transition, and I hope the only lesson I teach is that you have to plan and plan and plan, and even then, it will go wrong, dont transition unless you have $$$$ and lots of them, there is no cure for what will kill me…

        All those at the Democratic Convention as reported here, will they do anything to help transpeople that need a hand up… Just a small job somewhere, how difficult could that be?? No one in the trans-community cares 1 iota about fellow transpeople…. It is sink or swim, dog eat dog world…

        • Justine, that plain isn’t true, dear! Lexie and I obviously care. You mention those at the Demo Convention, they aren’t just photo ops. they are each advocates that are working in their home States to gain Health Care & Employment protection for trans people. They DO care about thse of us in the trenches. Change AND transition, are slow processes – but there are many people internationally – working to make life better for ALL of us. I know there are people in So. Africa as well working for trans rights – reach out!! do not retreat into isolation, and don’t give up – you’ve made it this far!!!

          • I have tried to contact them, and I challenge you, if you sent them an email and asked them to comment on me, you would get a blue worded comment, I AM HATED.. No matter how much I write, in fact I have been thrown off the gender dynamix facebook page as I questioned certain decisions and statements they made… So much for getting help…

            Those photo ops at the Dem Convention, will they put any cash into a fund to assist in helping struggling trans people? No, they will not, they are just the same as everyone else, they say they care, in fact they do not, have they really helped any one??? Where is the proof that any one of those “photo ops” has done anything towards trans improvement…

            Not everyone lives in the US, and those of us outside the blue/red and white iron curtain????

            The fact is, I will never work again in my career.. That is damn hard to accept, so it is best for me, for you, for everyone that I destroy this body of mine…. I am just a coward, Natasha Lauren Brown was more brave than I am.. I am at that point where gassing myself with my car is going to be easy…. I have lost all hope… It is over….

            • Please! I have been where you are. I’ve attempted suicide 3 times. I am still here for some reason. I know you can only see blackness right now – but, Please listen to Lexie and I. Those people at the Demo Conv. are doing very concrete things to make our lives better. No, they aren’t kicking in their own money, but the groups they represent use the money others donate to change laws. No, not everyone lives in U.S. but things are improving in U.K., Canada, the E.U. Gender Dynamix locked you out, ok fine.(Something similar happened to me) Find another group, start your own. With the internet, your voice by itself, can reach around the world (obviously, it already is) There are other jobs. I made it out of the darkness – You can too!!!

        • Justine… I’ve listened to and watched your spiral of self deprecation and isolation for years now. You don’t want to help yourself, but prefer to keep on playing the pity/worthless/useless/poor me/admonish/can’t card. Until you decide to help yourself, and I mean REALLY, your situation is not going to change.

          Yes, SA has the most forward thinking and proactive/advanced constitution in the world when it comes to equality, but it is up to the individual to make that work for them. Think about that for a second… Make it work for YOU…

          Secondly, having recently relocated to the UK, I can say unequivocally that this is probably one of, if not, the best places in the world to be Trans. It’s not about money, or what you have or don’t have. It’s about you and how you deal with it all.

          I agree with the article that there are shortcomings in certain areas of the country in terms of understanding of the issues around being Trans and it is not pleasant that this young lady took her life, but there are alot more stories about the successes of the system that aren’t published… Both here and in SA.

          Finally, I believe that anyone’s transition (and mine personally) really comes down to your attitude to life in general. I’ve been through shit too, been beat up and spat on and homeless, but I’m still here, because this is who I am and I am here to live, THAT is my choice.

          • Thank you, Monique! A great statement of what it means to be a survivor. I too am still here and I am not going anywhere. I am who I always was meant to be, proud, and happier than I ever have been!!

          • Hi Monique,

            Can you clarify for the readers, which country you were referring to when you said:

            “Secondly, having recently relocated to the UK, I can say unequivocally that this is probably one of, if not, the best places in the world to be Trans.”

            Thanks for commenting!

          • Oh we have a constitution?? It protects me.. What rubbish, what are you talking about.. I have to use at great expense a lawyer to get a simple amendment of my surname done, something that if I was not trans would have taking a week to do is dragging on for over 18 months.

            I cannot bank, travel on planes, I have zero valid SA ID book.. You relocated to the UK, do you have a job? A degree??? If so well done, I have almost no money, I have no degree, only 1 part time job on my resume… I have no valid up to date skills.

  5. This suxs. She was so beautiful.

    This could have been me..I suffer from depression too and being Trans myself doesn’t help. I had a really rough childhood too but I became more of a fighter rather then a punching bag and I did not give up. It’s hard. It really is. My prayers and sorrows go to her andher family. Another sister is lost.

  6. When you have been kicked off all of them? My reputation online is not one you would want, I am the very worst…. Trust me, the very best thing that could happen to me, is a sudden death.. For me to be taken out, be to no longer living… No one needs my drama…. Suicide is the best solution to a problem..

  7. So now I know where my friend went *sigh*. Nobody told me.

    Justine.. we will have you and welcome you with open arms. Transpanthers UK on facebook x(not your ordinary “support site bickering)xx

  8. Someday – Just someday, I hope I will make a difference for transpersons. I deal with alot of loss everyday. I am trying….

  9. This is a difficult topic to speak about. It is not an issue that should be ignored but at the same time it needs to be balanced as it is not a problem for everyone. Its not just the obvious suicides that exist but all of the self destructive lifestyle choices that often lead to premature death. It is terribly sad.

    Justine, I can say confidently that transition was a terrible struggle for me and likely I experienced first hand everything you have been through. If you need to talk you can look me up on facebook. There is light at the end of the tunnel even though it may feel like you are in a bottomless pit. I wont say any of it is easy, in fact it is horribly difficult, but it can be done. One thousand days is only three years, it seems like forever when you are living it, but in fact it is only a small portion of your life. Please take care.

  10. Thanks for the comments everyone.

  11. This makes these findings very very important.

    Trans Mental Health and Emotional Wellbeing Study 2012

    Suicidal thoughts and experiences within the transgender community some recent findings from the largest survey of its kind in the Europe.


    The majority of participants, 84%, had thought about ending their lives at some point (N=581). These participants were then asked for more information about their experiences. 27% of those who had thought about ending their lives at some point, had thought about attempting suicide within the last week (N=471) with 4% thinking about it every day. In the last year 63% had thought about attempting suicide (N=472) with 3% thinking about it daily.

    Prevalence of actual suicide attempts, among those who had thought about ending their lives at some point, was 11% within the last year (N=427), however lifetime prevalence was substantially higher, at 48% (N=436). 33% had attempted to take their life more than once in their lifetime, 3% attempting suicide more than 10 times. More significantly, 11% of the respondents were unsure as to whether they were planning to attempt suicide in the near future, and 3.2% were planning to (N=473).

    When the participants who had never thought about suicide (and therefore were not asked further questions about suicidal ideation and attempts) are factored back in, this results in overall suicide attempt rates (N=581) of 35% attempting suicide at least once and 25% attempting suicide more than once.

    Suicidal ideation and actual attempts reduced after transition, with 63% thinking about or attempting suicide more before they transitioned and only 3% thinking about or attempting suicide more post-transition. 7% found that this increased during transition, which has implications for the support provided to those undergoing these processes (N=316).

    For the participants in this survey, 65% felt that there were trans related reasons which made them think about or attempt suicide, while 61% identified non-trans reasons as relevant. This suggests that although being trans may be one factor, others are also relevant.

    From: http://www.scottishtrans.org/Uploads/Resources/trans_mh_study.pdf

    • All I know is that there is nothing left for me on the planet, I have wasted my life, the people that have met me in person, have all run away, and others, the ones on-line, they hate me….

      There is no point in staying alive if all I am doing is ensuring that in a few years I will have no money and be homeless… I have not worked for 3 years and who is going to hire an ugly transwoman like me, that has no skills???

    • Thanks for those statistics, Helen. All I was familiar with are specific to U.S. only, put out by N.C.T.E.

  12. Hello, while I’m not transsexual, I understand some of the issues associated with being a transgender person; my best friend, the very first person I came out to about my sexuality, the one who introduced me to my amazing boyfriend, is a gifted young trans man named Derek. The need for mental health workers to be trained in dealing with LGBTQ people is extremely important, specialty with transgender and genderqueer patients… I want Derek, and people with similar issues to him, to have the same benefits as everybody else.

    I may never truly understand what it’s like to be a male in a female body, or vice versa, or know the feeling of not fitting into your own skin, but I hope that soon, Derek and other trans people will be treated with the dignity and respect that every human being deserves. It would crush me if I lost him….

    I’m sixteen, and I truly believe that my generation has the power to finally change this millenia-old status quo.

  13. I am a woman with a transsexual history and also share a few experiences with Lauren Brown. I have struggled with depression, due to my gender issues, for most of my life and reached my point of ‘gender crash’ halfway through studying for my degree at Staffordshire University. I suffered a nervous breakdown and had to defer from my course.

    My experience of Staffordshire’s almost none existent mental health services, and particularly services where gender issues are concerned, leaves me in no doubt as to how Lauren was failed and took her own life. I approached MIND and was told that there was a 6 month waiting list for assessment, the same but with a terrifying (the threat of being sectioned which terrifies me if I expressed the opinion that I might be a danger to myself) when I approached my GP’s practice. A change of GP practice and an apparent clash of cultures convinced me it was not to approach the medical profession again.

    After a life filled with domestic violence from an alcoholic partner, drug addiction, rape and finally being driven from my home by prejudice, phobia and threats of physical violence as the locals (Shelton) knew me pre transition and are utterly intolerant. And I pass reasonably well and have no issues in my new home town.

    I don’t want patronising comments. I struggle on a daily basis with the urge to take my own life and the last place I’d advise any transsexual person to go for advice it the TG industry or the sexually predatory TG scene. I speak from my own experience and, yes, I do wonder what the future holds for me personally. If I do choose to take my own life I don’t want anyone wringing their hands and pitying me, it was my decision and the likelihood is that I’m better off.

    I simply hope that at some point in the future the world might be jolted into accepting that gender issues are as real as ANY other potentially life threatening condition and when the correct treatment is administered is apparently very effectively treated.

  14. What is very clear is that there is no support from within the transsexual community, it is very much dog eat dog world.. “If I did it, you can too. stop whining…”

    Some of the comments here are from people that have not an ounce of compassion…. They say they care, but they would not be bothered one bit if in the next hour I gassed myself… They would think good riddance to bad rubbish…

    • People from all over the world are reaching out to help you,Justine. I even spoke to someone who just came from So. Af. Transition isn’t easy for any of us. Our community is definitely NOT dog eat dog. We are reaching out to you, you have to help yourself by meeting us halfway!

      • When you say I meet you halfway, what do you mean? I dont think you spoke to someone from south africa. Of course our community is not there to help each other… There is no support for people worse off.. “If I did it, so can you” is the attitude, no compassion…

        Where was the compassion for the woman in the story that started this thread?? There was none, I would believe that she tried to reach out and was beaten down.. That is what I am reporting, if you dont like it.,..truth hurts…

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