Synestra De Courcy Article

Synestra de Courcy: What we can learn from the tragic death of a young trans woman

I think Synestra had serious issues around self-esteem which ended up not being sorted, and I do think that getting her into the gender clinic earlier might have done something for her.

I say that because what people don’t understand is that putting trans people through that process can make them feel so different. I work with [LGBT+ charity] Mermaids, and I see parents of trans teenagers saying that they have children on the brink of suicide, who are regularly exhibiting antisocial behaviour.

Once they start getting help, they have a saint.

“I’m not saying that’s what would have happened with Synestra, but what I have seen is that the mere act of getting somebody into that transition period can turn their lives around.”

Unfortunately, these conversations are all too often overshadowed by the mainstream media’s obsession with debating trans identities. A person’s right to exist freely without discrimination is not a debate.

Last month, Channel 4’s Genderquake season rehashed these arguments on a nationwide level, screening a televised debate which featured audience members repeatedly screaming slurs at panellists Munroe Bergdorf and Caitlyn Jenner. Green Party MP Olivia Palmer was later suspended, after being named as one of the aforementioned hecklers.

The contents of the conversations themselves were more often based on fear and speculation than fact or logic, proving once and for all that the insidious rhetoric surrounding proposed reform of the Gender Recognition Act is nothing more than thinly-veiled transphobia.

“First and foremost, it’s annoying,” states Fae.

We see headlines made out of the fact that a minuscule amount of women – 300, but we think it’s closer to 100 – walked out of the Labour party. That’s 0.01% of Labour’s women.

What I’d like to talk about are the issues in the book. Why won’t GPs treat trans people?

“Why do trans people go to the hospital with a broken arm and get told they can’t be treated because they’re on hormones?”

I have a local case of a trans woman being harassed. People are threatening to kick the shit out of her, and they’re also throwing eggs at the house she lives in. She’s now likely to be evicted because, in a landlord’s eyes, that makes her a bad tenant.

So you have an instance where someone is abused and then being doubly abused because they’re a victim. That’s why I’m tired of the gender ‘debate’ – it takes focus away from these very real issues.

As the conversation around trans rights threatens to be overshadowed once again by fear-mongering, it’s worth remembering the stories of young victims like Synestra.

While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with sex work – highly successful trans women like Janet Mock and Paris Lees have spoken about funding their transition using this method in the past – it shouldn’t feel like the only option, nor would it be if these discussions were commonplace. Synestra’s mother has since set up a charity in her name to honour her legacy, but also to ensure that the healthcare system doesn’t fail any other young trans women in the same way it did her beloved daughter.

More: We asked 14 trans activists how cis people can be better allies in 2018