Remembering Wade

Audrey Larcher

When I first met Wade, he didn’t go by Wade. Our friendship took root in high school, where I called him by a name his parents had assigned at birth. I continued to call him by the same name into his first year at UT San Antonio, and even a few months after he started at UT Austin as a sophomore.

A year ago was Wade’s first Pride celebration out as a trans man.

On April 29, Wade committed suicide.

Losing Wade was losing more than just a friend. He was a kind soul who always gave everything he could, from spare cigarettes to honest advice, to leftovers from the burger joint he managed. Wade was a poet and he wasn’t afraid to share his work, despite its inextricably personal nature. During his time at UTSA, he participated in queer student organizing, where he promoted safe sex, boosted gender education resources and stood up against hate. Losing Wade meant losing someone who made the world a better place.

When I first heard the news of his death, I could not believe it. Wade had been several months into hormone therapy, an encouraging step in his transition. It was just a month before his move to Vermont. Things were looking overwhelmingly positive for Wade, and the threat of suicide seemed dormant at the time.

But his death was part of an all too familiar narrative. Over 40 percent of trans youth attempt suicide before turning 25. Wade suffered from mental illness, battling a handful of different diagnosed conditions. Wade was also more or less on his own to make rent and pay bills.

The world has made so much progress — 20 years ago, I don’t know if Wade would have even  had the  chance to exist as a trans person in Texas. But we still have a long path in front of us before people like Wade can live their truths without fear.

We have a lot to be proud of, but we also have a lot to remember. We cannot forget what kind of obstacles Wade had to navigate. We cannot forget that it was a trans woman of color who shattered the window at Stonewall. We cannot forget that our struggles are intersectional, and prioritizing discussions about mental health, race and class are essential to meaningful change.

And we must remember all these truths as we continue confronting hate and queerphobia in everyday life. We must remember as we battle the Bathroom Bill. We must remember as we fight for Planned Parenthood, an organization that offers hormone therapy. We must remember while queerphobic slurs are hurled in West Campus. We must remember all the time.

Because remembering will save lives.

Larcher is a Plan II and economics sophomore from Austin. Follow her on Twitter @AudreyLarcher.