Hundreds gathered at a vigil for the teenPhoto: Screenshot/Instagram
Hundreds of people attended a vigil for Avril, the transgender teenager who died by suicide last week just after she was humiliated by her guidance counselor when she wore a skirt to school.
The teen who attended Lycée Fénelon in Lille died by suicide last week, raising questions in France about the treatment of transgender teens in school. Defenders of the school said that they bear no responsibility and stressed that the teen was living in a youth shelter – possibly because she was rejected by her family – while advocates for transgender equality pointed out that she had been humiliated at school just weeks prior, where she suffered “psychological violence.”
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“High school students from Fénelon and supporters from everywhere gathered this morning in front of [Avril’s] (or Luna’s) former high school,” wrote poet Marlène Ducasse on Instagram this past Friday, with pictures of the assembled mourners.
In a separate Instagram post, Ducasse said that 100 to 200 people attended a vigil on Friday night for Avril in Lille.
In early December, Avril posted a video to social media of her getting yelled at by her guidance counselor.
“I understand that you want to be yourself, I understand that perfectly,” the counselor shouted at Avril in a video taken on December 2 that the teen later shared on Snapchat. At the end of the video there is a picture of Avril in a modest jean skirt with the caption “This is what I was wearing.”
“Everything I’m doing now, it’s to better help you, that’s what you don’t understand!” the counselor says in the video as Avril cries. “Because, once again, some people have different opinions than you do and aren’t your age. It’s that simple. They don’t have the same upbringing.”
“But they’re the ones who need to be educated, not me,” Avril responds.
“I totally agree! I agree with you!” the counselor interrupts, condescendingly.
“Then I don’t understand why you have a problem with me,” the teen says.
“Shameful,” wrote David Belliard, who works at the Paris Mayor’s Office. “Yes, transphobia kills.”
Last week, her school, Lycée Fénelon in Lille, announced that she had died by suicide. The school even misgendered her in the announcement, using the masculine article “un” to refer to her.
Then the leader of the school’s parent-teacher association, Jean-Yves Guéant, said in an interview that it was true that she was sent home earlier in the month because she was wearing a skirt, but denied that that had anything to do with her later suicide.
“It is very complicated to understand what happens in the head of a young person who makes this kind of decision,” Guéant said, according to the French mainstream publication Le Figaro. “But it’s obvious that the school bears no responsibility for this.”
The French LGBTQ magazine TETU talked to students at her school, who said that she went by that first name. Others said that she was in between that first name and “Luna,” while some local activists have been referring to her with her deadname. Ducasse, who referred to her with her deadname, said that the teen’s friends said that she hadn’t yet settled on a new first name.
Because of TETU‘s reporting, is referring to her as Avril.