Abby Martinez had been feeling sick and wanting to cry all day. She went to lunch with a friend, but could barely eat.
She didn’t know what was wrong, but suspected that she felt that way because of her daughter’s situation Yaeli, who identified himself as a man.
On September 4, 2019, when he did not pass to Martinez’s deep sadness, she called Yaeli to make sure everything was ok as she was not getting a message back.
No signal. The daughter’s silence led Martinez to imagine the worst. Finally, Yaeli replied.
“She’s fine”, Martinez remembers thinking.
Yaeli lived 15 minutes from her mother’s house in Azusa, California. Mother and daughter exchanged a few messages.
Yaeli “told me a little bit about the day at work,” Martinez said in an interview with The Daily Signal, but then the daughter stopped responding.
Around [as crianças] h, Martinez got a call from a police officer who asked if Yaeli was with her.
“ I said no’. Then my heart raced at 20 an hour.”
Yaeli was missing. Martinez met the police at his daughter’s house, who was not there. He decided to look for her in some hospitals. Nothing.
The next morning, Martinez was driving on a freeway after dropping off his other child at school when the phone rang.
“I got a call from the morgue,” Martinez said, with teary eyes.
He took the first exit and parked, his heart accelerated.
“Tell me where my daughter is,” Martinez asked the woman on the line. “I want to go see her.”
“She said ‘I’m sorry, but you won’t be able to see her’. I asked why. What hospital is she in? I just want to see her.”
The woman told Martinez that her daughter had taken her own life the night before.
“I screamed. I said ‘no, I want my daughter’.”
At that time, Martinez said, she wanted to disappear.
When Yaeli was 6 years old, Martinez had moved with his children to El Salvador, his home country. They studied there for five years, but visited California during the summer.
In 2011 , moved back to California, but Martinez says she couldn’t get along with Yaeli’s father. He had been in Yaeli’s life before and “she was daddy’s little girl,” Martinez said.
Yaeli had suffered from depression since her early teens. .
When she started high school, her mother said, Yaeli befriended another girl who identified as a boy and suggested to Yaeli that the reason for the depression it could be that she was actually a boy.
Yaeli started attending a school LGBTQ club that encouraged her to question her own gender. Counseling at the school also endorsed her decision to start socially transitioning from female to male.
“I don’t know if schools have an obligation to inform us about the what is happening or not, but they never sent me a note about telling me ‘we need to talk about your daughter’”, says Salvadoran native Martinez.
Martinez said he found out what was happening to Yaeli through one of his other children, who was enrolled in the same high school.
Martinez recalls that it took his daughter out to dinner and asked her to share what was really going on in her life.
Yaeli told her mother that “I don’t want to talk about it because you they won’t support me.”
Martinez recalls that he replied to his daughter that “well, we don’t know. If you tell us what’s going on, I’ll be happy to help you. I would do anything to help you, Yaeli. All I need and want for you is to see the happy girl you used to be.”
“She said ‘I’m not a girl, I’m a boy.”
When Yaeli turned 16 years old, she left her mother’s house.
Because the mother expressed concern about her daughter’s “transition” to a man, the psychologist at Yaeli’s school recommended that she would be better off leaving home.[as crianças]
Martinez lost custody of his daughter to the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services.
Martinez says she was allowed to visit her daughter for an hour a week. After six months, she managed to increase it to two hours.
The logic of the Department of Children and Family Services was that “if we keep outside her home, she will have a better chance of surviving,” recalls Martinez. “She will not attempt to commit suicide.”
For about three years, Yaeli lived away from her family. She legally changed her name to Andrew and started taking masculinizing hormones.
“She was taking the hormones; she was not happy. She changed her name, [mas] was not happy,” Martinez said. “She adopted a dog because it would help her be happy. None of that, none of what they did worked.”
After identifying as a man for about three years, changing his name, and taking masculinizing hormones, Yaeli took it off. his own life almost six months before his 20 birthday.
And Martinez got that call from the morgue.
She knew her daughter knelt on the tracks and raised her hands to the sky as the train approached.
“I don’t want any parent to go through this,” Martinez told The Daily Signal. “Because the pain never goes away. (…) You breathe and you feel pain.”
She says she asked the Department of Children and Family Services after her daughter’s death: “Where is my daughter? You took my daughter, you took my family. Now she’s gone. You said she would get better.”
Martinez said the agency had no adequate response.
The Daily Signal requested comment from the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services. The agency responded in March 20, here is an excerpt:
“We extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Andrew M., as well as the LGBTQIA community who relentlessly fights to protect their youngest and most vulnerable members from tragedies like this. State law protects the confidentiality of records of all children and families who have come to the attention of child protective services, and prohibits confirmation or comment that a child or family has had involvement with the department.”
When the Department of Children and Family Services took his daughter, Martinez says she was portrayed as “the wrong part.”
“Although I told them about the depression, they didn’t care, they were indifferent”, said Yaeli’s mother.
“I wish that one day the system will change and they will actually help these kids” with gender identity difficulties, Martinez said.
“I want you to investigate what is happening. Why are [as crianças] acting this way? Why [elas] are you feeling this way? I want them to pay attention to mental health.”
“They don’t talk about it,” Martinez said of the Department of Children and Family Services and the school daughter’s public. “There are many children who are committing suicide. The system offers them to pay for everything, hormones and any surgery they need.”
“I wish the system, instead of spending millions of dollars on these kids in state custody, support us as parents and give us the tools we need,” Yaeli’s mother declared.
Instead, she said, what there is a “dysfunctional system that is destroying our family”.