The small town of Chatham, Ontario has been rocked by the sudden death of Coltyn Mayrand, a 16-year-old trans teen who passed away Saturday night.
There is some question, though, as to the cause of Mayrand’s death: He’s believed to have committed suicide, though no official report has been made public. And though family members admit Coltyn was bullied for being trans, they say it wasn’t the root of his problems:
“As much as bullying is a terrible thing, and may have affected Coltyn, we do not believe that bullying played a large part in our loss of Coltyn,” posted Page Elizabeth Mayrand on Facebook. “We appreciate the kind thoughts and words, but we don’t need everyone out there putting blame and criticisms on anyone, for any reasons.”
Mayrand’s obituary reads, in part:
“A past student of Our Lady of Fatima and Monsignor Uyen, and a dedicated grade 11 student of Chatham Kent Secondary School where he was highly regarded and supported; he was wise beyond his years. Coltyn had a remarkable character, and touched the hearts of many, young and old. Colt will forever be remembered for being an extraordinary son, brother and friend, who was exceptionally kind in his words, generous in his deeds and outstanding in his academics. Always understanding and compassionate with a keen sense of humour. Coltyn was extremely dedicated and thoroughly enjoyed his involvement and time spent in the Sears Drama program, paintball, and scouts, especially their annual canoe camp excursion on the Magnetewan River. His patience and acceptance of others was greatly admired and only surpassed by his strength, courage, and loyalty to be true to his genuine self.”
But if Mayrand’s death was a suicide, was it a bullycide?
Mayrand went to a LGBT youth group at AIDS Support Chatham-Kent, where one of the staffers tells Queerty it was known he faced abuse at school. A former classmate uploaded a blogpost about Mayrand, whom she knew before high school. It’s since been taken down, but the excerpts here reveal something of Mayrand’s personality and some of the harassment he may have endured.
Coltyn hadn’t become Coltyn until high school. Before then, he was Tess. Tess was a beautiful young girl who made everyone around her smile and laugh. She was excited by life. We would talk about pretty dresses our moms gave us. We would braid the others hair. We would go out at recess and catch butterflies together. We would try to learn how to skip double-dutch, but we never figured that one out. We would talk about getting older, and what we wanted to accomplish with our lives. She was one of the smartest people I knew. She would never hurt anyone, or anything.
Tess and I drifted apart after I moved from French-immersion into English classes. I would always say hi and try to catch up when I could, but she started acting uninterested and didn’t talk as much as she used to.
She started wearing boys clothes in about grade six. In grade seven, she cut all her hair off. We thought she just wanted to fit in with the boys, but nobody knew to ask her personally. She got really involved with the Cub Scouts, and schoolmates thought that was “for boys only,” and started nicknames like “boygirl” and “it.”
People made fun of her, and she started being alone at recess. She still had friends, but she tried as hard as she could to be by herself. It was hard to see someone go from being so full of life to trying as hard as she could to shut it out.
In grade nine, Tess changed her name to Coltyn. She changed her gender on Facebook to “male.” People started avoiding her. She used the girls’ washroom, and always got weird looks when she came in. People asked questions, and gave answers even when they didn’t know the truth. None of these people knew how lovely Coltyn was, but yet they were close-minded based on what they thought they knew.
A funeral service for Mayrand will take place on Friday, February 3, in Chatham.