On this LGBTQ day of silence: In Memory of Eden Knight


Emma Homan, Feature News Director

***Content Warning: Mentions of suicide, trafficking, abuse, and transphobia.

The messages within this story are entirely the opinion of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Red & White staff and the Bellefonte Area School District and its employees.

On March 12, trans woman and social media presence Eden Knight posted her final message before taking her own life. She was a shining light on her friends and the trans community. She was trafficked from her home in Georgia, forced to detransition, robbed of her financial independence, and sent back to Saudi Arabia where she could not live as herself. Her final message is heartbreaking, and a cruel, cold reminder of the abuse transgender people face in even first-world countries.

“hi. If you’re reading this, I’ve already killed myself,” she started. “I have given life every opportunity, I have given myself every chance to get better. But I couldn’t do it, I wasn’t strong enough, I don’t think there was a universe where I was ever strong enough to survive this.”

In this message, posted using a TwitLonger on her personal Twitter account, she spoke of a “fixer” named Michael Pocalyko who contacted her to “fix” her relationship with her conservative Muslim parents in her home country of Saudi Arabia.

“I decided I would give it a shot because it can’t hurt, right?” she said.

Michael convinced her to move to Virginia, and then to DC. She came in contact with a Saudi lawyer named Bader, who slowly applied pressure on her to detransition. He told her that she should hide it and that she could easily live two lives. Slowly she became entirely financially dependent on Bader, and because she was illegal, she was unable to run away without being deported back to Saudi Arabia. 

“I subconsciously gave up. I was too tired. I did everything he asked, I cut my hair, I stopped taking estrogen, I changed my wardrobe,” she stated in the message.

Meeting back with her parents was the final straw.

“My mom kept telling me to repent or I was going to hell, and I did, I repented… I repented, and I was broken. Bader then booked a flight back to Saudi, and I came back.”

It was then she discovered that Bader, Michael, and his associate Ellen were specifically hired by her family to bring her back to Saudi Arabia. To force her to detransition and repent for her supposed sins. Every day her belongings were searched, she was berated and had to hide her estrogen medication.

“After the first time they found my HRT [hormone replacement therapy], it was traumatizing, but I didn’t want to stop. I didn’t want to live if I couldn’t transition…”

“They have found my HRT again, and I am done fighting.”

Her final words to her friends and loved ones grieve her before she is gone, in a way. She gives her wishes for herself, and her future.

“I wish things were different, I wish this message was a message about how I won…But that’s not my reality… 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.”

“goodbye <3”

For weeks, there have been friends and chosen family of Eden across the internet grieving publicly, sharing stories, and publicly shaming Eden’s family and the people hired to assure her death, signs of her presence in memorial posts and sun emojis. 

Eden isn’t the only one. While she’s the first to be so blatantly dragged to her suicide, there are so many other ways that trans people have been brought to their deaths, even in America. There have been 450 bills in US State legislatures, and many of them have been, or are about to be passed. These bills force trans people out of the public, banning them from bathrooms, school curriculums, and healthcare systems. This is more than simple transphobic legislation, this is genocide.

It is insidious, what lawmakers are doing to transgender people. Rather than killing us themselves, they make it so we do it for them. They incite violence against us, take away the healthcare that lets us be ourselves, and ensure that trans children are taken away from supportive parents, and charge those parents with child abuse. There is no excuse for the blatant disregard for the science that proves that trans people exist and that we are not predators, monsters, sexual deviants, or confused children. They are trying to kill us, and our government is letting them.

The official Holocaust Memorial group has categorized nine stages of genocide, not necessarily in a particular order. First, classification, in which a solidified “us” and “them” is established using stereotype and exclusion. Stage three is discrimination, in which civil rights are taken away from the chosen group. Fourth is dehumanization, where the group is treated as less than human. For trans people, they are treated like sexual predators and child groomers. Six is polarization, the use of propaganda to turn the neutral public against the group.

             The final steps, in which the group is persecuted and exterminated, have not yet begun. There is nothing, though, stopping these stages from happening if something is not done. 

There are currently 3 bills in PA legislature that attack trans rights. If nothing is done these bills, alongside hundreds of others across the nation, have been and will continue to be passed, stripping the rights of trans people away piece by piece.

For people like Eden, it’s already too late. While her life was short, it was full of meaning for her and her chosen family. Eden’s fate is one that hundreds of trans people across the country face, the threat of detransition or death. For some, like Eden, death is a preferrable option. It’s up to us to ensure that no other person is faced with such a choice.