In December of last year, a 24-year-old autistic man named Kayden Clark uploaded a video to his YouTube channel in which he excitedly announced that his insurance would pay for his gender reassignment surgery. “I can breathe,” he said. “The anxiety’s gone.” Thursday afternoon, he was shot and killed by police in his Mesa, Arizona, home.
ABC 15 reports officers—who are now on administrative leave—arrived at Clark’s home after a call came in claiming he was threatening to kill himself, adding:
Police entered the home to try to find [Clark], and when they located [him, he] lunged at two officers with a knife, a police spokesman said. The officers feared for their safety and fired at [him], police said.
Though Clark—who had previously attempted suicide two years ago—is identified as a woman named Danielle Jacobs by ABC, several advocates for autism awareness have since responded to their report, claiming he was a man who “preferred” the name Kayden. The identification appears to be validated by Clark’s YouTube channel, whose five uploaded videos chronicle a transition process that was tragically cut short. (A study published last year revealed 41 percent of people who identify as transgender have attempted suicide.)
While still identifying as Danielle Jacobs, a video of Clark in which he documented his dog Samson’s assistance in dealing with his “Aspergers meltdowns” went viral. In their coverage, The Huffington Post wrote:
[Clark] wants to help others with autism, too, noting that their public meltdowns may be judged by people who don’t understand what’s really happening. [He] said [he] shared [his] experience to raise awareness.
After Clark’s death, his mother told reporters that, despite a “limited income,” he “bought two Christmas trees and ornaments on sale to give to low income families for this upcoming December.”
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