Please keep me alive

19 Sep 2018

Note: The crucial part should take ~15-17 minutes to read, everything else is optional and I don’t recommend it unless something severe to my life happens to me.

As I write this post I am angry, furious, and terrified: terrified as this has severely derailed my life for nearly three years now leading to several bouts of homelessness, joblessness, and a severe reduction of quality of life mentally and physically; furious as people feel entitled to my life because of biological connections that I had no opportunity to reject at birth; angry that while my quality of life has completely evaporated since my brother’s death, that the lives of those using his death for their own advantage as a sob story while simultaneously erasing his and my valid experiences and histories are facing no consequences for their actions across the span of nearly two decades, instead reaping awards, positions on councils like the HRC’s Parents for Transgender Equality National Council and PFlag, as they drown out our voices and overwrite them for narcissistic purposes.

After this post, I hope this is the last time I publicly speak about this in a long time. I have a strong desire and need for privacy, safety, and most of all peace. I do not want to be defined by or known for this. I do not want the pity of strangers. I have no desire for the spotlight, especially on this as why would I want my life to be defined by the death of the only person I considered family and raised myself? I want to be known by my friends for the things I love and love to do, the weird adventures I go on, who I am as a person. I tried my hardest to keep my life separated from this but it has proved impossible to even have a sense of physical safety nonetheless I fear for my life because they will not stop at any cost.

Please help me be safe because my life is at stake.

My life is independent of everything my brother, Skylar Marcus Lee, did just almost 3 years ago on 28 September 2015, 2 months exact to his birthday and 7 days exact to mine. I am a human being. I am Avi and just Avi. I am a proud queer nonbinary transgender man. I am an atheist. Those intersections of my identity impact how I view the world, live in it, breathe in it, but also how people have and will treat me in it.

This includes my brother’s (until his death) and my two primary abusers, Joanne Ujeong Lee and James Changho Lee, who are my birth parents and for the last several years since late 2015 have:

Along with all of those I have additional fears for my life as Joanne Ujeong Lee attempted to assault me with knives as a child while screaming she would kill me and/or kill me someday, she has a history of drugging me due to her being a healthcare professional, James Changho Lee has attempted several times to force me into rental vehicles after showing up to my doorsteps at various former residences, and both have made suicide threats in front of me as a way to manipulate my actions. I am terrified for my life. I am scared that I will somehow be found dead, murdered and made to look like it was a suicide with my birth parents immediately taking control before my Will executor is able to take over and contest it, or be found dead with my birth parents.

Last month at DEF CON and Queercon in Las Vegas, Nevada, Joanne Ujeong Lee and James Changho Lee showed up. Thank you to all of the handlers and security at Queercon, all of the DEF CON SOC goons (and also for giving me Blueberry), all of the Caesars Entertainment hotel security staff, and everyone else who I missed, that kept me safe as that situation unfolded over the weekend. I’m sorry to all of my friends who didn’t know what was going on, I hope this helps explain things.

I originally filed for a Petition for Order of Protection in the civil courts in Seattle, had Joanne Ujeong Lee and James Changho Lee served with papers by law enforcement, but cancelled the case as I finally have legal counsel and am taking different steps now. Today would have been the court date. Today I received a friend invite on Facebook from a Washington state woman that Joanne Ujeong Lee befriended and manipulated to post a statement [today] from her about Skylar and her. This was clearly done with intent to intimidate and taunt me as they now know I reside here. I also fear that by coming out publicly with what has been happening that they will not stop until they take my life and/or theirs, too.

Many people now know Joanne Ujeong Lee as she has been an outspoken “activist” on transgender children, if that means drowning out trans voices for her cis voice and false narrative; if that means spreading the same false narrative that trans people hate their bodies and themselves; if that means she is given a pass by major LGBTQ organisations such as the GSA Network, the HRC, PFlag, and more, no matter how wildly inconsistent her stories, details, and recollections of Skylar and I are.

She’s inconsistent because everything you know about her and her “story” about “her” and “Skylar” are lies. There is a reason why she only has very few and limited photos of her and Skylar together, with the last ones from when Skylar was in middle school. She is using old photos of Skylar prior to his transition for her sob story narrative, which not only outs him each time but is also done without his consent. He clearly did not wish to be associated with himself from prior to transition yet she continually does so at his expense, while being celebrated by the GSA Network, HRC, PFlag, and other LGBTQ nonprofits she has gained access to thanks to her social engineering skills.

Many of those nonprofits, like the GSA Network, have excused her behaviour after being informed and many have said that as long as she’s doing “good” by being an “activist” for transgender children (which she isn’t and just spreads the same false narratives of trans experiences over and over) then that’s all that matters. They want her sob story and are getting it, promoting it, sharing it.

I explained some of the aftermath in Sarah Jamie Lewis’ book “Queer Privacy” in my essay Skylar. But I didn’t mention a lot of everything else that had happened and my situation has drastically changed and developed since. I never expected my birth parents to become obsessed with me, curtailing my voice by overriding it publicly with theirs, stalking me everywhere I go online or in-person after social engineering my information, attempting to kidnap me, trying to gaslight me on my experiences with them, use suicide as a tactic to get me to obey them, them holding my dog Nugget hostage while abusing him until I rescued him (where they attempted to kidnap me, again), getting a new dog, sending me packages, and invading all of the LGBTQ nonprofits I used to believe in as a way of taunting me, and everything else that has happened.

I had never been afraid of my birth father until this all began. He is now going around calling himself my “daddy” or “dad” in messages to my friends. I never called them any of those growing up and it is beyond creepy to see. When I went to rescue Nugget by picking Nugget up he locked the doors behind him so I ran and tried to block Skylar’s and my old room. He managed to get through quickly and pinned me down on the bed by my wrists saying I was not allowed to go, to call my friend who was waiting outside to tell her to leave because I was staying. I managed to convince him to let me leave barely by explaining I told her to call the police if I didn’t return within a set amount of minutes. He relunctantly let me go, grab Nugget, and followed me out the door, watching us drive away.

He flew from Wisconsin to Boston, drove to my old apartment in Providence, realised I moved, drove all the way down to a suburb in Virginia that I had stayed at for a few months, then texted me to come out as he heard Nugget barking. They social engineered a hospital I was admitted to after a medical incident to gain my address. He and my birth mother called various hospitals in the area trying to also find which emergency vehicle I had been taken in. He ended up showing up to that apartment listed from the hospital at the front doors asking my former roommates about me, driving around in his rental as he always does. He’s tried to put me into several cars he rents when he finds me after my birth mother social engineers where I live to drive me back to Wisconsin and keep me there, likely until I come back out publicly to renounce all of this and myself.

The look in my birth father’s eyes when he laughed at me while saying, “Hi Avi,” in Las Vegas was terrifying and chilling, because I recognised them as his look of determination to the end and the same eyes when he emotionally and coldly stated he would kill himself with my birth mother agreeing after to that statement. He’d never laughed like that before, either, and that moment haunts me in my sleep looping endlessly.

People they’ve befriended have messaged me over the years since Skylar’s death asking me why I don’t want to reconcile with my birth parents, trying to persuade me to be “family” with them again except we were never a family from the start. They manipulate strangers to post messages for them, taking advantage of their kindness, then ask them to add me on them.

That’s just a little bit of what’s happened.

The red flags were there from the start and I’m ashamed I let it get to this point. My birth mother said she wanted a bench for Skylar, that she wanted a scholarship in his name, that she wanted to start a nonprofit and fund in his name, that she wanted to write a book and someday have a movie of Skylar’s life made. I was and still am vehemently against all of this, trying to explain to her that none of this was what Skylar would have wanted. She’s done and is working on all of these things, with the support of nonprofits like the GSA Network. Even after they finally took down the line that it was in part by Skylar’s “family” meaning solely her and my birth father, they kept the scholarship in his name up.

He asked to not be a hashtag and has been made into one by and because of her, against his clearly stated wishes. Anyone who has helped enable all of this to occur have assisted them in their abuse.

She always wanted to be famous. That’s all she talked about as Skylar and I grew up, how she should and could have been an actress, be famous, how she married the wrong man, complaining about her lack of friends growing up, complaining about all of her “friends” and gossiping about them, and so on. She lamented about living in the shadows being average as her older brothers were successful so her father treated and spoiled her. She was (and still is) a shopaholic buying expensive clothing and took ballroom lessons at the expense of Skylar’s life and mine, telling herself they would make her elegant and poised like all of the actresses in the movies she watched on TV, believing it worked. Average was not okay and she was not average because somehow or another she felt and “knew” she was “destined” that someday she’d find and be greatness.

She had no friends before Skylar died. There is a reason for this. And I am sorry to all of those who truly believe they are friends with my birth mother because they do not know her. The basis of your friendships with her were formed from lies, and lies don’t lead to genuine and true friendships. Then there are the people who know all of what happened growing up and yet are still friends with her because they believe that biological family ties rule over everything else and will somehow magically resolve themselves. Then there are the people who are friends with her simply because she just happens to pay for everything when going out with people.

Please help me gain my life back by stop enabling my birth parents. Please stop supporting and promoting their actions and behaviour. Please stop helping them gain access to me by revealing to them where I am, what I am doing, what’s going on in my life, where I work, where I live, anything about me. None of it is in good faith, it is not me they actually care about, it’s their reputation and new fame that they created with false narratives and sob stories that aren’t real that they wish to keep, maintain, and grow.

I fear for my life and I am terrified that I will not make it to the end of this legal nightmare, especially now that they know I live in Seattle. They taunted me today with this. And I know no matter how well I cover my tracks they’ll manage to social engineer and find me again.

Please help me stay alive.

I am reclaiming Skylar’s life and story, and in additionally mine back. This is our story.

My first memory begins at age 3 of my birth mother physically beating me through a thin blanket I wrapped around me and held onto the corners desperately under my body as she screamed, beat me with her fists while clawing them out of my hands, then dragging me into the living room as I held onto door frames, bars of the stairwell, throwing me on the couch where she finally went free with her fists. The beatings on the couch after dragging me into the living room became a daily routine as my birth mother physically abused me with her. fists, fists while wearing rings, scratching, kicking, kicking with shoes on, sticks, heavy objects, etc.

Things became worse when I came out as an atheist at age 4. My birth parents are both extreme Christians and were formerly in missionaries. I was repeatedly called the Devil/black sheep my entire life as they believed I was “tainting” my younger brother with atheism and later on our queerness, and much later on our transness. I refused to attend church so she would physically beat me then lock me inside of a closet, sometimes with Skylar until he grew older and joined her to avoid this situation. Other times she’d beat me, drag me into the car by my hair (I used to have very long hair that I was not allowed to cut) or feet/legs, then forced me to attend church.

Skylar endured some of the physical abuse, too, but mostly was saved from it after choosing the paths of least resistance and I took the blame for many of the things (e.g. “offenses” such as eating a piece of candy, eating my birth mother’s expensive takeout and leftovers as she starved us, losing the TV remote) he did. That was okay, because it was better for me to take the hits than my younger brother who was much more fragile than I.

I was repeatedly chased and kicked out of the house from age 6. Due to her night shifts a normal routine in elementary/middle school was secretly sneaking back inside around midnight through various ways when she was working then leaving before she arrived back when I’d go to school, otherwise sleeping at neighbouring parks inside playground tunnels, sneaking back when I’d hope she would be asleep. For anyone who’s ever heard me talk about why I began lockpicking and was surprised to hear that I started at age 6 and hated it when I began, this is why. It wasn’t a hobby or fun for several years, it was out of pure necessity that I had to self teach myself.

It was always terrifying when it got to the point she’d eventually see me, unsure if I’d be chased out again or if she’d simply ignore me (with a few insults) and walk right by. In middle and high school I was kicked out for long durations of time where I could not return back at all. A routine I perfected by the end of high school was school (sleeping in classes to the dismay of my teachers), a part-time job, then 24/7 gyms and coffee shops at night. Skylar was always the one and only reason I was able to live inside of their home at all when I did, persuading them to let me stay. Especially after the year of daily sexual abuse I went under from age 16-17, while Skylar did manage to persuade her to let me live (and also went inpatient again) at their home, she blamed me for it, saying the police wouldn’t do anything because it was my fault. She did not support me in that moment of vulnerability when I tried to ask her for help.

Growing up I watched Joanne Ujeong Lee being removed several times from various communities including churches and the ballroom community of Wisconsin, due to her alcoholism and making sexual advances. In one notable case that is still ingrained in my head to this day, she returned home from a ballroom competition raging and lashed out at us before realising she could use Skylar for her own benefit to smear an innocent and well known/celebrated gay man in the international and national ballroom community.

She had been intoxicated and attempted to enter someone’s room to have sex, and was prevented from doing so by her (at then) instructor, immediately after being removed from the ballroom community. She attempted to smear her [former] instructor by claiming he was a child paedophile and had repeatedly touched and looked up skirts/dresses my younger brother (at that point he was not out) wore in a small claims court while trying to recover some money as he kicked her out from his studio. I witnessed her attempting several times to coach my brother (he was 10 at this point, I was 13) on this. After court she returned furious that her lawyer refused to assist her as she did this, and she received a restraining order against her immediately after, disallowing her anywhere near her former instructor. Even after this restraining order, however, she would oftentimes at other competitions and ballroom lessons at other studios attempt to talk to other dancers and their parents telling them the “story” of what happened, further attempting to smear him. I was too ashamed to speak of any of this before, being a queer individual myself, and I am sorry that I did not step in to stop this at the time.

She had an income exceeding six digits not including the large amounts of income from relatives in South Korea that were intended to be used on Skylar and I, as she used it all on herself (she’s a shopaholic, spent most of it on ballroom lessons to make her “elegant”). I wasn’t aware of this for some time believing her when she said we were poor albeit we always had the latest technology, that she went shopping every week, that she was almost always at the movie theater watching several new movies. She repeatedly said I was the cause and blamed me for it, that I was useless, that she was wasting money on me, and so on. She would often guilt me for everything, from the extracurriculars and classes I was doing or was forced to do, to any necessary expenses such as food or clothing, and I always understood that all costs related to me growing up would eventually be paid back to her as I owed her a debt for everything I incurred cost wise. Due to my never ending debt to them for the unfortunate act of being born she would repeatedly, especially when she was angry at me, remove all of my money and income from my savings and checking accounts due to being a cosigner. When I was 18 I signed up for an online banking service, hiding the new debit card and everything about it to avoid them finding out I had a new account.

She never bought food that Skylar and I could eat. We only had boxes and boxes of expired cereals she bought in bulk. We were beaten if we ate any of her food in hunger, as she bought expensive takeout daily and were not allowed to touch any of it. Very early on Skylar and I used to fight over food that we saw and thought we could get away with eating, or my birth mother would have us compete for her attention thus one of us would be rewarded with real food. I realised this was a losing battle and I made my brother go to his friends houses as often as possible, knowing that way he’d be guaranteed an actual meal or two. She was also simultaneously always trying to lose weight thus by age 5 I had memorised and recited the calories of various foods, various weight loss supplements, phone numbers of weight loss plans on TV, and more off the top of my head. I was diagnosed with anorexia by middle school as a culmination of not gaining weight due to being underfed and my fear of being fat instilled in me so I would never be or look like my birth mother.

I began asking by the end of elementary school to see a therapist. My birth parents did not believe mental health issues were real and further shamed me with their religious beliefs. It was not until I began suicide attempts in middle school leading to several hospitalisations and various lengths of time in-patient at psychiatric hospitals, many in quick rapid succession back-to-back until the end of high school, that they took it seriously. Yet they also weaponised my mental health issues against me. My birth mother would taunt me for failing to kill myself, saying things like I did not try hard enough if I “really” wanted to kill myself, that I didn’t have the guts for it, I wasn’t good enough and that I fail even at attempting to kill myself, that no one would care if I died. On one occasion she taunted me to kill myself in front of my younger brother who watched in horror, repeatedly saying I wasn’t taking enough pills [to overdose], that I didn’t have the guts for it, that no one would care that I died. I overdosed quickly several times over the maximum adult dosage in front of them as she repeatedly taunted me, and only after I fell unconscious did she call for me to be taken inpatient, blaming me for it.

My younger brother began seeing a therapist in middle school, was on various antidepressants, and first attempted suicide in the spring of 2014. I blame myself for this, along with his eventual death by suicide, because he grew up watching me and was always there for me as I repeatedly sought after death as an escape. Three weeks before high school graduation I attempted suicide again, failed, then projectile vomited all over the bathroom. I sobbed and cried that I was still alive as Skylar just swore non-stop when he saw the scene, made me go into the shower, and cleaned up all of my vomit himself.

Along with the atheism and everything else, we shared a mutual back-and-forth history with our queerness and transness. I came out publicly as queer when I was 15 for the first time. She and my birth father became even more aggressive at me than ever before when I had come out as an atheist (4) with my birth father in denial. My younger brother (12) came out also as LGBTQ 2-3 months later. She and my birth father were in complete denial about my brother, blaming me as the “Devil” for it. My brother went back into the closet for 1-2 years after this, and when he did come back out socially at school (he was out to a few friends before he did a more open coming out again) he did not tell or talk about it with my birth parents.

By the time I (18) graduated high school my brother (15) was also becoming much more open about his identity wearing rainbows frequently as I dragged him to LGBTQ student groups and nonprofits, to which my birth parents ignored and were in denial over believing that once I moved he would “revert back” to being “a good Christian girl”.

I (18) came out as a transgender man on 1 June 2014, 14 days before I graduated high school. My birth mother and I did not speak to each other from April of that year outside of 1-2 times where she screamed at my birth father in front of me to not attend my high school graduation (as she had done for my middle school graduation) else she would divorce him. I did not invite her nor my birth father to my high school graduation knowing this would happen, and she was attempting to hurt my feelings by doing so. At the time my relationship with my birth father was neutral/fairly good as we related much more as I was also an introvert, had always leaned heavily in STEM and he was an engineer, etc. In addition over the years she had hid several acceptance letters such as a university acceptance letter, various LGBTQ programs, and more.

I moved 3 days after my high school graduation. My younger brother (15) came out also as a transgender man in July 2014, having already taken a few testosterone shots courtesy of friends prior to and after this.

Until 28 September 2015 on the East Coast (Providence, Rhode Island) I quickly worked myself from Chipotle to working for United Airlines, saving up as much as I could with the end goal of taking custody over my younger brother. My younger brother and I had been extremely close to one another growing up as I raised him in the absence of my birth parents. I was raised by various people (e.g. nannies, different relatives) up until I was about 5-6. By age 7-8 my birth mother began leaving me alone with my younger brother (4-5) at home together (e.g. she went to the movies, ballroom lessons, museums, Chicago trips, etc.) or she’d just sleep/watch TV/movies all day in front of the TV on the couch while eating expensive takeout.

So I raised him as best as I could by myself. We talked to each other of how and what we’d do after we escaped. We had a plan that once I escaped I’d save up and I’d rescue him, too, from our childhood hometown by taking guardianship over him. I promised this to him from early childhood on. Before I moved I also did tell and made my birth parents promise to never do the things they did to me to him, just in case.

I did not realise or know—he never reached out to tell me this was happening, and only found out after from several people including self confessions from my birth mother—that everything my birth parents had done to me, were done to him. He had a part-time job, was always paying back my birth parents for various expenses especially anything car related, was also kicked out repeatedly and stayed often at the local LGBTQ homelessness center, Briarpatch, used up his friends and their parents patience of staying at their places on couches, etc. Along with already having several physical health issues, with the relatively sudden instability housing wise with repeated homelessness (at least for myself I had always been prepared, he was not, as he had been my birth mother’s favourite child as she always believed I was the Devil and was influencing my brother to also be agnostic/atheist/queer/transgender) it impacted him even more strongly. She would also repeatedly call the police on him frequently, she admitted to me in the immediate aftermath of his death.

I was informed of Skylar’s suicide in the early morning of 28 September 2015. The date is significant because Skylar was born on 28 November and I was born 5 October. He chose the date purposely because it was 2 months to his, 7 days to mine: two prime numbers. He knew my favourite numbers were prime from teasing me about it growing up and knew the date would be symbolic for both of us, letting me know he tried for several months to make it to this point. He set up everything for the aftermath of his death for me far past the date including the way our former room (he took over my old one) was set up to messages he told friends to inform me after.

The nonprofit we had both been a part of had been notified first. I fell apart at work and thankfully my station manager assisted me with everything from booking my flights (with the airline code of immediate death/funeral emergencies), reminding me of what items to grab from my apartment as she drove me from and to the airport, and more. I had planned and assumed I’d have to immediately figure out legal custody over Skylar’s death upon landing in Wisconsin but in the late afternoon/early evening I received a phone call from my birth mother as she had just been informed. I found out over 6-7 hours before she had been.

When I landed as we temporarily reconciled I learned that not only had she put on Skylar’s online obituary his dead name in (not to mention it was incorrect), she also had put the wrong birthday and age, incorrect pronouns, along with catastrophic incorrect information about Skylar. I fixed all of this, organised the funeral and figured out the bills. I also created the background art of the trans flag and rainbow flag with daisies for the pamphlets and cards that is now featured on her site dedicated to her and Skylar’s “story” used without my permission.

I posted this on social media on 30 May 2018, the day before my former best friend’s (and later Skylar’s platonic soulmate) one year death anniversary, but I want to share some of it here again:

I know it’s selfish but I can’t handle that my favourite flowers were taken from me and now represent to most people Skylar and Eileen along with their suicides. I loved daisies first and now I can’t stop sobbing and vomiting when I see one walking home. I’m not ready for Friday. Friday I’ll be with so many darling friends and it’ll be my four year trans coming out anniversary. Yet it’ll also be one year since Eileen which means seeing even more daisies, daisy tattoos, daisy art, daisy everything. It’s out of control now with this daisy chain of suicides. I know it’s irrational and that daisies aren’t just mine. But the weight of their deaths is suffocating. I’m drowning in my favourite flowers. They’ll never truly be just mine again. They’re just my dead brother’s and my former best friend’s flowers to everyone. Skylar’s favourite flower was always roses growing up. Daisies were always mine.

That was a lot. I’m sorry to anyone who reaches the end here. It wasn’t linear, it was a mess, but I needed to get this out there because I want to state the truth. I am the last living person in what used to be a pair with shared back-and-forth experiences. In the event of something happening to me, these are my truths.

I love my brother dearly. Skylar was the only person I considered family. I watched him grow from being a tiny human. He used to bring me daisies all the time and made me birthday presents of “coupons” with sharpies and photos of us to redeem for going out to coffee shops and cheap restaurants as treats for ourselves. He got so, so, angry and mad at me for being the worst cook ever and always ruining the last minute cheap Christmas dinners we made after running to Walgreens for shitty pasta, especially the last Christmas we had together where we splurged at Target for garlic bread, “fancy” ravioli that was like $7 for the small container of it, and more. I even ruined the cookies that I made to apologise for burning the garlic bread loaves into cylinder blocks of charcoal.

I miss the days we used to spend time at our park, talking about everything we’d do after we escaped our hometown together; I miss the waffles we shared together nearby; I miss the ridiculous orders of Chipotle we ate together; I miss all of the times I introduced him to new games and how to code; I miss all of the ridiculous selfies and photos we took together that I now can’t share to the world anymore because he can’t consent to the photos of pre-transition us being out there; I miss the days he’d fall asleep in my lap (he was such a heavy sleeper) and I’d just whisper out loud that I would definitely be a good older [brother] and save us both; I miss him being here, alive, with me, next to me, laughing with me, talking about our dreams together with me, arguing with me on topics we’re passionate about, swearing at me for stupid mistakes I’d make that’d annoy him, everything we had for the 15.5 years I had him for before I escaped our town time, I miss him so much dearly.

There’s so much I’ve discovered in life since this all began and I’m so grateful for all of the magical experiences and moments I’ve had with people in my life. I am surrounded by friends that I love and know love me back, am in several communities that I absolutely adore, and I am so thankful to be alive. I’m finally nearly back to regaining normalcy in my life but at the same time today was a reminder that I’m not there yet.

Please help me stay alive.