By Bryn Fawn
Editor’s note: this article discusses suicide and quotes a suicide note. Readers’ discretion is advised.
Transgender visibility day is occurring today, March 31. It is a day to be aware of the struggles of our transgender siblings. Events are being held all day long on campus to celebrate, yet we have lost a bright young soul.
Eden Knight was a 23-year-old Saudi transgender woman. She had lived and studied in the United States for some time until her visa expired and she was manipulated into returning home to Saudi Arabia by her parents. Knight was well-known online for queer and left-leaning individuals, especially on Twitter. Knight has more than 24,000 followers .
Knight often posted jokes and art she enjoyed or retweeted things she resonated with. She made her final tweet March 12. It is captioned “Final message” and links to her suicide note.
“If you’re reading this, I’ve already killed myself,” Knight wrote. “I wasn’t strong enough, I don’t think there was a universe where I was ever strong enough to survive this.”
The lengthy note then goes on to explain why Knight decided to end her life. Her family had hired a pair to supposedly “fix” her and her parents’ rocky relationship and w=hired a Saudi lawyer in Washington, D.C. in an attempt to bring her back to Saudi Arabia.
Conditions for transgender individuals in Saudi Arabia are poor. They face social stigma and discrimination. “Cross-dressing” is illegal. Those found violating these laws can receive punishments such as whipping, imprisonment, fines and death.
The lawyer is only referred to as Bauder. Bauder, with help of the “fixers,” lured Knight into a false sense of security. Knight explains she was “pampered,” given an apartment and therapy. However, Knight soon realized it was a ploy to force her to conform to what was expected of her: presenting as male.
Knight recounts how she was trapped by Bauder. She was dependent on him for food and shelter, and he could easily track her down if she were to run. She no longer was legally residing in the U.S., and the threat of deportation loomed over her head.
Knight was slowly whittled down until she snapped. She cut her hair, changed her wardrobe and discontinued her hormone replacement therapy. She returned home to Saudi Arabia.
“I had another breakdown,” Knight wrote. “My mom kept telling me to repent or I was going to hell, and I did, I repented. I believed I was going to hell so much that I read the entire Quran front to back in a couple of days, crying the entire fucking time about what a disgusting thing I am, and I didn’t sleep. I repented, and I was broken.”
Knight tried to continue her HRT, but was discovered. She would get her shots but be discovered by her parents. Her parents would berate and abuse her for this. With her third time attempt to take HRT in secret foiled, she had given up. She felt that she could not live if she could not be her true self.
Knight lamented on her life. Knight expressed that she understood she wasn’t perfect but also did not understand why her life was this way.
“I wasn’t always a good or even decent person, at times I was a fucking asshole, and a disgusting human being,” Knight wrote. “But there were times I feel like I was good. I don’t understand why I was given this life with these circumstances, every day hurts, every second stings. I have tried killing myself in the past, but every single time I was still holding on by a thread somewhere deep inside me, I think that’s why I survived them. This time, I am done. I am tired”
Knight never deserved or earned this blatant abuse. She deserved to be happy and to be able to live her life as her true self.
Knight felt defeated and that she would never be respected in her identity.
“Someone just walked past my car and glanced at me, I wonder if they know I’m gonna kill myself,” Knight wrote. “I wonder what they would think about me if they knew who I actually was.”
Knight’s parents announced her death on Twitter March 14. However, they misgendered Knight and referred to her by her deadname. They used her legal name instead of Eden. Comments flooded the post stating the sentiment “her name was Eden.” The Twitter account has since become private.
Her partner, known online as Parker, also confirmed her death on Twitter.
Her partner tweeted: “Rest in peace, Eden. I will carry you on my shoulders for the rest of my life. Your life will carry meaning. You touched the lives of so many people. I am forever grateful to have gotten to know you.”
Knight was loved by many. She was a strong and sweet young woman who had plenty of life left to live.
“That girl was a light,” Bailee Daws, a close friend of Knight, told The Independent. “I would give anything to bring her back. Honestly, I really would. Because I loved her – we all did.”
Knight’s final tweet has nearly 6,000 retweets, nearly 8,000 quote tweets and more than 43,000 likes. The comment section is filled to the brim with supporters. They hoped for her safety until they knew she was truly gone and mourn her loss.
How many more lives must be lost due to hatred and bigotry? How much longer until something is done? The LGBT community has been fighting for justice and rights for decades, and yet the general populous is shocked when a tragedy such as this occurs. The queer community deserves better. Knight deserved better.
“I wanted to be a leader for people like me, but that wasn’t written to happen,” Knight wrote in her final goodbye. “I hope that the world gets better for us. I hope our people get old. I hope we get to see our kids grow up to fight for us. I hope for trans rights worldwide.”
The United States is facing harsh laws put in place to crush transgender citizens.
It is only a matter of time before the United States will soon mirror Saudi Arabia and Knight will not be the last person to be “fixed.”