US officials investigating alleged suicide of Saudi Arabian trans woman ‘forced to detransition by family’
The US government is investigating the apparent suicide of a Saudi Arabian transgender woman who says she was coerced by her family into leaving the US, according to reports.
Eden Knight, 23, posted a suicide note on Monday alleging that her parents had hired American “fixers” to help bring her back to the authoritarian kingdom and force her to detransition.
She said the fixers introduced her to a Saudi Arabian lawyer in Washington DC who slowly made her dependent on him for “food and shelter” while pressuring her to live as a man, leading her to suffer a mental breakdown and acquiesce to her family’s demands.
On Thursday, a spokesperson for the US State Department told Vice News: “We have seen these reports and are studying these allegations.”
Ms Knight’s friends welcomed the investigation, though some expressed fear that it would go nowhere.
“Forced detransition is torture,” said Merrick DeVille, a friend of Ms Knight who has been leading an effort to compile evidence about her case for journalists and activists.
“[Eden] would still be here if her family just let her live how she wanted to. I am tired of watching my friends suffering and dying. This community just wants to live their lives and be themselves.”
The Independent has not been able to fully confirm Ms Knight’s death, but social media accounts belonging to her alleged family members announced funeral arrangements for a “young man” with the same legal first name and surname, and friends have not heard from her since her suicide note on Monday 13 February.
That post, apparently scheduled in advance, sparked dismay and fury among her many friends in the US, where she had attended high school and later studied computer science at George Mason University.
The post alleged that her parents, whom she described as “strict conservative Muslims”, bullied her, berated her, and denied her access to her hormone medication until her spirit was broken.
Saudi Arabia has invested substantial resources in neutralising dissidents and critics abroad over the last few years, often by trying to persuade them to return to the country or even arresting them during brief trips back.
Neither Ms Knight’s apparent family nor the alleged fixers have responded to requests for comment.