A California mother whose teenage daughter committed suicide at the age of 19 is blaming the girl’s high school for encouraging her daughter to identify as male and taking her daughter away from her.
Abigail Martinez, whose daughter Yaeli had suffered from depression as a young teenager and later identified as “Andrew,” told The Daily Mail that Yaeli’s school encouraged her to take hormones, undergo gender reassignment surgery, to secretly join an LGBT group and not to speak to her mother.
Martinez, 53, a mother of four, who filed a 2020 civil lawsuit against LA County and its Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS), “said an older trans student ‘coached’ Yaeli on what to tell social workers to put her into foster care, so that the state would pay for her gender reassignment,” The Daily Mail reported.
Ryan Foran, a spokesman for the Arcadia School District, stated, “We share in the sorrow and grief of the Martinez family and continue to offer our sincerest condolences. While we are unable to provide personal information or comment regarding a specific student due to state and federal laws protecting the privacy of student information, any claim or assertion that would suggest our school encouraged one of our students to take hormones and undergo gender reassignment surgery would be categorically false.”
“Furthermore, a claim suggesting our school or a staff member did not properly treat a student’s severe depression is both completely inaccurate and troubling as our schools and staff would not be authorized or medically qualified to treat clinical depression,” he continued. “However, our staff works tirelessly to provide and suggest resources, when appropriate, to help connect students and families with licensed mental health professionals to treat conditions such as clinical depression. We have a very caring staff that is dedicated to providing a safe, nondiscriminatory school environment for all students. We also continually provide resources to promote the healthy mental, emotional, and social well-being of all students.”
Martinez stated that Yaeli showed signs of depression by 8th grade after being bullied and started questioning her sexuality at around 15 years old. She continued:
Once she moved to high school, by the beginning of sophomore year things changed drastically. … She talked to her sister about how she liked girls. She was questioning her sexuality. It was a shock, but she was trying to find out her identity. It’s normal, what children don’t go through that at that age? … But I never imagined what the school would do. … The school was telling her to go to these LGBT groups behind my back. She went from questioning her sexuality to her gender. … She had these peers at school two years older than her. They were the ones who brought these ideas – “Maybe you’re depressed because don’t you feel like you’re a boy?” – and the school was supportive of that. … The school told her these groups were the place to go, and I didn’t need to know about it. … I asked her what was going on, and she tried to deny it, because she was told that if she talked about it at home, I would not support it.
“I didn’t like the idea [of transitioning],” Martinez said. “But I just wanted her to find out what was leading her to go that way. I explained to the social workers it’s not going to work. My daughter needs mental health help. You have to go from the inside out. If she’s happy with herself that’s all we need. Focus on that.”
Speaking at The Heritage Foundation, Martinez said, “The school counselor was involved, DCFS (Department of Children and Family Services) was involved, LGBT was in there too, trying to ‘help’ my daughter on the transition of being transgender. I was accused that I didn’t want to open my eyes since she felt since she was a little girl that she was a boy which was not true. She was not even close to a tomboy … she was the girlie girl in the house.”
“Instead of proper treatment for mental illness, Martinez said her daughter was encouraged by the school and her LGBT support group to take hormones and pursue gender reassignment surgery, and cut Martinez out of the process,” The Daily Mail wrote. “Yaeli was allegedly told by her trans peers that the only way she could get it paid for by the state was if she was in foster care. Martinez said one trans friend and their parents ‘coached’ Yaeli, persuading her to run away from home in July 2016 and tell the Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) that her mother had slapped her in the face.”
“I never was abusive to my children. I love my children,” Martinez stated. “I never slapped her. But she was coached by this family what to tell the authorities so they cannot send her back home with me.”
Martinez was placed in foster care by a judge; Martinez said, “’On the visit days, when she came to my house, I was told not to talk about God. They told me if you do that, you’ll never see your daughter. But I brought meals to share with her on Saturdays, and we prayed before eating. She would close her eyes and bow her head.”
Texts show Yaeli telling her mother, “I can be difficult sometimes but I really love you Mama,” “I love you lots,” and “I love you and remember you are strong. I’m so proud of you for everything you’ve done. … I’m really happy to have you as my mom. You mean the world to me. … You’re the best mom anyone could ask for. You constantly sacrifice yourself for others.”
Martinez commented, “I knew that the hormones wouldn’t work. She was taken away from my house because they wanted to save her life. My question to all of them is where is my daughter now? Why did they play with her life? … I’m broken. My family life is not going to be the same ever again.”
Roger Severino, a former civil rights director for the federal Department of Health and Human Services who has helped Martinez, told The Daily Mail:
The state got between a young girl in trouble and the person who loved her the most, her mother. Instead of working through the underlying depression, they put Abi’s daughter on a one-way track straight to transition and chemical interventions that would lead to permanent sterilization as a kid. Because the state took Abi’s daughter away, her depression got worse. And without having her mother’s love, she took her own life. I think the school district ultimately is responsible for her death.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a free hotline for individuals in crisis or distress or for those looking to help someone else. It is available 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255.