Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 8 / 22 February 2018

Trans youth commits suicide


Aubrey Mariko Shine. Photo: Courtesy Tiffany Woods
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A transgender person who last April had been pulled back after threatening to jump off an East Bay freeway overpass jumped from the Golden Gate Bridge last month, according to people who knew the person and government officials.

Aubrey Mariko Shine, 22, who's being remembered as a "passionate" youth who was active in their community, leapt from the bridge Tuesday, February 24, photos and messages posted to Shine's Facebook page suggest.

Tiffany Woods, a transgender activist who met Shine after the April incident, said Shine's legal name was Jesse Casas and Shine preferred the pronoun "they."

In response to emailed questions, Lieutenant Keith Boyd, a spokesman for the Coroner Division of the Marin County Sheriff's office, gave the full name as Jesse Anthony Casas and said Shine was an Oakland resident.

The "death was a witnessed jump from the Golden Gate Bridge to the bay waters," said Boyd. "A forensic examination was performed and the cause of death is multiple blunt impact injuries."

Shine's remains were located in the bay at about 6:12 p.m. February 24 and taken to Coast Guard Station Golden Gate, and the case remains "under investigation," he said.

The discovery was made just after Debbie Mobo, 23, last spoke with Shine.

Mobo, who lives in San Francisco, said in an interview that she met Shine online just a few days before Shine jumped. The two hadn't yet met in person but they'd planned to go to a movie together.

Mobo said she texted with Shine February 24 around 4 p.m.

"She said she was going to take a walk on the Golden Gate Bridge, and she was just going to walk around," said Mobo, who used female pronouns when referring to Shine and said Shine preferred that. "Then she said her bus was coming, so she hung up the phone."

The final text Mobo sent was, "'Are you OK?' She didn't reply."

She said she learned of what happened through Facebook.

The Bay Area Reporter wasn't able to directly view much of Shine's Facebook page, but Mobo shared photos from the page, including one with what appeared to be a knee at the edge of the bridge and the message, "Being trans sucks!" The photo was posted on a Tuesday at 5:47 p.m.

In Shine's text exchange that last day, said Mobo, Shine had commented that "she felt like she had nobody there for her. She was always alone."

However, Mobo also said Shine had "sounded happy," and "I didn't think she had anything planned" like suicide.

In an emailed statement last week, Woods, the TransVision programs manager at Fremont's Tri-City Health Center, said Shine, who preferred the name Mariko, "identified as genderqueer trans."

Woods first met Shine when the Oakland Police Department called her last April 24 to assist just after Shine had been pulled back after threatening to jump off an Interstate 580 overpass in Oakland.

"I helped connect her into the services and support she needed at TransVision," said Woods, referring to Shine using female pronouns, and Shine had been "doing well," despite past transphobia, unsupportive family, "and a history of suicide attempts."

Woods stated that despite the progress, "she never promised me she would not attempt suicide again, and I knew she would, I just wanted her to promise to call me or someone she could trust before her next attempt. We never received that call," she said.

Lisa Evans, the queer and allies initiative coordinator at the Oakland-based Youth Uprising, first met Shine soon after the I-580 incident.

Evans said she's "aware of the location" of Shine's suicide and "how it happened," through her agency's contact with Shine's family, Shine's Facebook posts, and "other service providers," but Evans declined to elaborate. The B.A.R. wasn't able to reach Shine's family.

Among other activities, Shine had been on the steering committee for "The Time is Now" LGBTQ youth summit in the East Bay, said Evans, who identifies as queer and non-binary femme.

"Aubrey was a part of so many different community spaces and touched so many people's lives," said Evans. Shine will be "very, very missed, both as a person and as an advocate." They were "somebody who really wanted to see change, and who really wanted to see spaces that are spaces for queer and trans young people."

Evans, who last saw Shine Friday, February 20 at a steering committee meeting, said on that day, "They were passionate, they were engaged, and I'm not saying more than that."

Shine's death is one more example of problems facing queer and transgender people, particularly trans people of color, such as not enough access to services and "high rates of violence," suggested Evans.

Even though they never met in person, Mobo, who's bisexual, said, "I loved the girl. I really did."

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