Obituary for North Dakota transgender woman who took her own life prompts worldwide response
'She had grown weary of the knowledge of her reality, knowing this country and this world would never stop trying to force her to submit to its ignorance, and her family rages for her,' her obituary stated.
BEACH, N.D. — A heart-wrenching obituary for a 19-year-old transgender woman who ended her own life in November has been soliciting support from across the world.
Haley Gabriella Feldmann was born on Nov. 18, 2002. Six days shy of her 20th birthday, she died by suicide, according to her obituary .
The North Dakota woman's story, based on her obituary, has been picked up by magazines such as the Los Angeles Blade, south California’s LGBTQ news source , and on the tribute page of Silha Funeral Homes. People from across the world are expressing their support and sorrow.
Tara Kula, office manager of Silha Funeral Home in Beach, North Dakota, said on behalf of the family she has been posting the obituary notice on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms.
“I guess we didn’t realize how far-reaching her obituary would be. We got a call from the Daily Beast, we’ve received calls from England, Scotland, and elsewhere. Hers is a very poignant story and obituary, and she really was a beautiful person. My heart breaks for them,” Kula said.
One woman from Australia posted to Feldmann's tribute wall.
“I am a stranger to you all, from the other side of the planet. But you have my deepest condolences and abundant love on the terrible loss of your daughter. This world can be a hurtful and harmful place to those who wish to show and express their real self and live it,” the post read. It was signed, "With love, Deborah Kimlin (Australia)."
This year has been called the "deadliest year ever for transgender and gender non-conforming people," according to the Los Angeles Blade. A total of 47 trans people, mostly of color, lost their lives violently in America. Legislative anti-transgender efforts have also prompted numerous youth to consider suicide, according to the Trevor Project, a national toll free suicide prevention service for LGBTQ youth.
More than 52% of transgender and nonbinary youth seriously considered suicide in the past year, and one out of five attempted suicide primarily because of recent politics negatively impacting mental health, according to a 2021 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health report by the Trevor Project .
Feldmann was born a boy, and “so we gave her a boy name, now a dead name,” the obituary stated.
“We gave her boy clothes, boy toys, boy things. We didn’t know she was our daughter and so we called her son and brother. Haley spent the first several years of her life content, within and without. She knew nothing of judgment or ridicule. She knew nothing but the love of her family, which she gave back in abundance,” the obituary stated.
As an adolescent, however, she became silent and distant, the obituary stated. “She built formidable walls that became impossible to breach, and she stubbornly refused to grant us passage. She had begun to grow afraid of the world as she began to understand herself and who she was, and the reality of her situation became apparent,” the obituary stated.
“The more she learned of how the world would judge her for not being who it thought she should be, the more she withdrew,” the obituary continued.
An atheist, because she could not believe in a religion that taught condemnation, she was also “a child of God, made perfectly in his image, her body only a vessel for the beautiful soul he created,” the obituary said.
She “lived comfortably” on Discord, an online chatting site.
“Her soul was radiant there, unhindered by its physical representation here, which had become a prison, freeing her to breathe and be,” the obituary stated.
Feldmann adored her dog Lucy, her “best friend… who loved and adored her in equal measure,” the obituary stated.
“She created her own language with a full alphabet and rules, spending years revising and perfecting it, and, in typical Haley fashion, did not leave a key,” the obituary stated.
Feldmann dropped out of school, but then graduated high school before her peers after she taught herself history, geography and politics, according to her obituary.
“She had grown weary of the knowledge of her reality, knowing this country and this world would never stop trying to force her to submit to its ignorance, and her family rages for her. We would’ve burned the whole world down if we’d thought it would keep her safe, and our fury and outrage is eclipsed only by our grief. We struggle against the currents that try to carry us away from love, for those currents only take us further from her. And she is far enough, already,” the obituary stated.
Feldmann leaves behind a family who say they are “inconsolable in the loss of her brilliance, consumed by a grief that has buried us in moments of silence, rage and sorrow, a void that will never be filled."
No formal services will be held, as per Feldmann's wishes.
The obituary closed with a message of kindness: “In lieu of thoughts and prayers, her family asks that you be kind to the living and generous with what you have, be it your love, hope, or wealth. Do better unto others as you would have done to you, and reach back to those in need, lift them up, raise them higher, and love, love, love thy neighbor."