TW: suicide, depression, transphobia, transgender genocide, forced detransitioning, abuse, deportation, kidnapping, coercion and grooming
Transgender people deserve to live a full life. Unfortunately, Eden Knight, a 23-year old Saudi Arabian transgender woman who was trafficked and forced to detransition, will never be able to.
Eden’s friends have published a document telling her story, including her final message where she described the events leading up to her passing.
Eden was living in the US while she was attending school, and came out as transgender while she was living here. She was contacted by a man named Michael Pocalyko and his associate Ellen, who claimed he could “fix” the relationship between herself and her family, who she describes as “strict conservative Muslims”, who disagreed with her transition.
Over time, Michael and Ellen connected her with a Saudi lawyer named Bader, who groomed her to detransition, to hide that she was transgender, and to get her to be, in Eden’s words, “normal”. At some point, Eden realized that she was reliant on Bader for food and shelter, and that since she was still seeking immigration status, that he could easily have her deported.
Bader booked her a flight back to Saudi Arabia, and Eden returned to her family who then revealed that they had hired Michael, Ellen, and Bader to bring her back. She was entrapped, verbally and religiously abused, and searched daily, with her gender-affirming healthcare taken away from her. As a result of this, Eden ended her own life to escape from it. Her family put up a post on social media confirming this, complete with misgendering and misnaming Eden. She didn’t get to be her true self to her family, even in death.
Eden was loved. Eden was full of purpose. Eden was worthy. Eden deserved better than this, to live a full life and to grow old. And yet, none of that saved her from the people around her that harmed her.
Transgender genocide is real. It’s even more real to our most vulnerable communities, including transgender people of color and transgender immigrants like Eden. There have been 465 anti-transgender bills introduced this year alone. These bills primarily target transgender people in areas such as healthcare, nondiscrimination laws, free speech, sports participation, public accommodations, and education. This legislative assault seeks to erase transgender people from society, taking away legal protections, medically necessary care, and breaking up families.
This is why gender-affirming healthcare can be lifesaving for transgender people. Eden is heartbreakingly a representative of the catchphrase, “death before detransition”. For many transgender people, forced detransition is a death sentence. Transgender people deserve respect – not laws, contracted entities, and systemic violence forcing them back into the closet and denying them access to crucial and life-saving medical care.
We remember the transgender people our society has failed, but we will not let their deaths be in vain. May this be the catalyst that sparks your righteous fury, prompting you to mobilize, to resist, and to rally others.
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