A year after Blake Brockington was voted homecoming king at East Mecklenburg High School in Charlotte, North Carolina, the transgender teen died from an apparent suicide, The Charlotte Observer reported Tuesday. Brockington, 18, was the school’s first transgender homecoming king.

When he was voted king, he told local LGBT newspaper QNotes: "I honestly feel like this is something I have to do. Nobody should be scared to be themselves, and everybody should have an equal opportunity to have an enjoyable high school experience."

The transgender youth activist became open about his identity when he was a sophomore. He explained to the Charlotte Observer in January that he never felt comfortable wearing dresses, even though he but was still forced to wear them. “It didn’t make sense. I felt like a boy," he said.

Brockington chose the name “Blake” because it sounded masculine and came to him in a dream. But his family didn’t take his transition well and he moved in with a foster family after he became open about his identity.

“My family feels like this is a decision I made,” Brockington told the Charlotte Observer. “They think, ‘You’re already black, why would you want to draw more attention to yourself?’ But it’s not a decision. It is who I am. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.”

Telling his family about being transgender was the hardest part of the transition. "That was single-handedly the hardest part of my trans journey," Brockington said. "Really hateful things were said on the Internet. It was hard. I saw how narrow-minded the world really is."

Brockington’s untimely death echoes the passing of Leelah Alcorn, the Ohio teen who scheduled her suicide note to appear on Tumblr hours after she committed suicide. Like Brockington, her parents did not accept her and her mother told her “it was a phase, that I would never truly be a girl, that God doesn’t make mistakes, that I am wrong.”

Suicidal teens who are in need of help are urged to call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1 (800) 273-8255. They are open 24 hours, 7 days a week.

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