(TW: suicide) This is my coworker, friend, and mentor Kyle Scanlon. He is a longtime trans activist (something like 15 years as one of Toronto’s trans community’s main leaders). He committed suicide a week ago, and we found out yesterday. I found out just as I was about to walk onstage and deliver a speech at SlutWalk Hamilton. I’ve been in tears ever since.
We sat beside each other at work and bonded a lot. We both come from the same city originally, and we both have ongoing struggles with suicide and depression. We’re both community leaders. Kyle taught me so much about patience, compassion, leadership, and diplomacy. He was often the voice of reason to me, and to so many others.
Kyle gave all of himself to help others, including me. He helped countless trans people in this city, whether directly through running Meal Trans, a program I now run, or indirectly through his groundbreaking work on policy and trainings that have completely transformed the way trans people are treated in this city.
Kyle was one of the kindest, gentlest, and most compassionate people I’ve ever known. He always made time for people, and would go out of his way to help, no matter who they were or how hard they were to deal with. He taught me so much about how to help those in need.
No matter how far out there I would get, Kyle always believed in me. He fostered me and my voice as an activist and leader, just as he did to so many others.
Kyle loved animals so much. He traveled the world to play with dolphins and monkeys. He would talk about how he could just be a person when he was with animals. He didn’t have to be trans, or queer, or anything else. Just a mammal getting and giving affection. Animals never hurt him. Animals just needed food and affection. That’s all they wanted from him, and he could give it freely.
Kyle often felt invisible, unappreciated, unloved. I am glad that I took the time to tell him how much I appreciated his work, how much I valued him as a coworker and confidant, and that, because I sat beside him, I took the time to say hello to him and ask him how he was just about every single day for the past two and a half years. I have no regrets because of that. We gave each other a lot of support around suicide and depression, so I also do not feel guilt over not doing enough.
Kyle did not choose the coward’s way out, as someone said to me earlier tonight. While I wish that we all could’ve helped him make his life more liveable, I cannot and will not judge him for committing suicide. He held on for so long, in so much pain, and did so with a smile for everyone he met. He was in such deep pain for so many years, yet always found the energy to help others through their pain. He was brave. I hope now that he can find the peace, light, and elevation he deserves.
If you are feeling suicidal ever, please reach out to someone.