(UPDATE – Kelly Lepley gives TED talk) Leelah’s turmoil prompts stepped-up activism by transgender airline pilots

kelly lepley jessica taylorLEXIE CANNES STATE OF TRANS — UPDATE Oct 31, 2015 — Kelly Lepley gives TED talk: http://www.ted.com/watch/ted-institute/ted-ups/kelly-lepley-why-being-your-true-self-is-the-most-selfless-act

(Original article:) Leelah was crying for help! . . . she was tormented, says Kelly Lepley, a transgender airline pilot. Another pilot, Jessica Taylor, says Leelah’s cries could have easily been addressed with unconditional love and acceptance of who she was by others around her.

Leelah was a transgender teen recently driven to suicide by her unyielding Christian parents. Even in the aftermath of her death, her parents stood with their rigid ideology, denying that their child was ever transgender or had gender dysphoria. The reaction on social media from the transgender community was such a fury, coverage reached national media.

For Kelly and Jessica, this became a turning point. New priorities included stepped up activism for transgender children and their parents, transgender pilots and for Kelly, educating her fellow Christians – we need to get our message into Churches and let them see their ideologies are destroying lives, she says.  Religious extremism is behind newly proposed bathroom legislation sweeping the country, Kelly says, which complicates efforts in helping trans children and their families – it’s hard enough dealing with transition during puberty let alone having to deal with a law that would target them, single them out and place them in a position for discrimination and bullying.

Kelly’s own story is impressive. She’s a First Officer on an MD-11 jumbo jet. She also transitioned on the job with full support from her colleagues and employer. However, there was a cost – Kelly lost her home, marriage, retirement, friends and acceptance from within her Church. It was worthwhile Kelly says, because she is now living a life of authenticity.

Jessica also transitioned while employed in an equally impressive story. She flies the Bombardier CRJ (Canadair Regional Jet) 200/700/900 series. Jessica approached her transition with a comprehensive plan and set targets. With full support from her employer, new connections with elected officials, the FAA, and other transgender pilots, the transition she says, was complete success, almost fun.

For both Kelly and Jessica, transgender kids matter the most. To parents, they say to listen to your trans child – give love unconditionally without trying to change them. Find a gender specialist who has dealt with the issue and to run from any counselor who believes in Reparative Therapy. Kelly: “I lived this nightmare, I know what it’s like. Let no one deter you from supporting your child and seek out role models who have made it.”


My hat’s off to both Jessica and Kelly for being the trans role models that they are — not only they are in an occupation of high responsibility and demanding professionalism, they both transitioned while continuing to fulfill the duties of their job!

My article on Leelah’s suicide: https://lexiecannes.com/2014/12/30/update-2-conservative-christian-parents-triggers-suicide-of-transgender-teen/

Suggested resources for your trans child from Kelly and Jessica:

PFLAG http://community.pflag.org/ and
TYFA  http://www.imatyfa.org/
Trans Role Models: ​​http://ai.eecs.umich.edu/people/conway/TSsuccesses/TSsuccesses.html

For Christians who are struggling with what is being taught from the pulpit: http://drjenspage.com/Article_Index.html

kelly lepley jessica taylor 2kelly lepley jessica taylor

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Read Lexie Cannes in The Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/courtney-odonnell/

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4 replies

  1. Both of these woman are excellent role models. Thanks to them for being authentic.

  2. your an insperation to me personaly thank you rachael bailet founder miss transgender uk with love xxx


  1. Moved by Leelah’s story, President Obama calls for end to ‘conversion therapies’ | LEXIE CANNES STATE OF TRANS
  2. Keeping your FAA medical certificate valid during transition: A guide for transgender pilots | LEXIE CANNES STATE OF TRANS

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