GALAEI’s TransHealth Information Project (TIP) just released information about the passing of 17-year-old transgender man Riley Matthew Moscatel*. The young man, a student at Bucks County Technical High School, was killed when an Amtrak train hit him Monday afternoon. Coroners are ruling it a suicide.
Riley’s mom spoke to the Bucks County Courier Times, saying that he had been battling depression for five years. (We’ve taken the liberty of changing the pronouns in the story out of respect for Riley’s true identity).
“Things were just building up and building up and [he] just couldn’t take it anymore,” she said. “[He] hid behind a mask. [He] had a mask for me, my husband, my son, my parents … everyone [he] had a different face for, but they were all happy (faces).”
[Riley] was transgender, his mother said. [He] identified as being a boy by using the name of Riley Matthew with [his] friends and on social media.
But [Riley’s] mom also said, “[he] went from so many different things that [he] didn’t know what [he] was and all of that added on to [his] depression. We were trying to accept it, we were dealing with it as best we could. We supported [him].”
TIP is taking this opportunity to shine a spotlight on the lack of resources for young transgender people who may be battling with depression:
Trans* and gender non-conforming individuals face exponentially higher rates of depression and suicidality than our cisgender peers. A 2011 survey conducted by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and National Center for Transgender Equality indicated that 41% of respondents had attempted suicide, as compared to 1.6% of the general population. The mental health and substance abuse issues with which we struggle are oftentimes exacerbated further by the habitual and pervasive negative discourses around trans* identity in the media.
Moscatel’s death was an avoidable tragedy. By continually denying young people the resources to access competent and sensitive care in an environment where they feel both safe and validated, we are conspiring with the systems of social marginalization that push these kids to their breaking point.
If you are a trans youth in need of resources, TIP has released the following contact information:
The Trans-Health Information Project (TIP)
1207 Chestnut Street, 5th Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19107
*After reviewing the comments below and having a discussion with a representative from GALAEI’s Trans-Health Information Project, I have removed mention of Riley’s birth name. I regret the error.