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California mom says daughter killed herself after school pressured her into transitioning

Yaeli Martinez, who transitioned into Andrew Martinez, killed himself by stepping in front of a train on September 4, 2019
UPDATED MAR 21, 2022
Yaeli Martinez also known as Andrew Martinez killed himself by stepping in front of a train on September 4, 2019 (Photo by GoFundMe)
Yaeli Martinez also known as Andrew Martinez killed himself by stepping in front of a train on September 4, 2019 (Photo by GoFundMe)

Abigail Martinez, the mother of a California teen who killed himself, accused her Los Angeles County school of urging her daughter to take hormones and undergo gender reassignment surgery as a youngster, while neglecting to adequately treat her acute depression. Abigail claims that the school and county wrongfully forced her daughter Yaeli Martinez to transition to male, and are responsible for her suicide at the age of 19.

On September 4, 2019, Yaeli Martinez, who transitioned into Andrew Martinez, killed himself by stepping in front of a train


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Abigail, a mother of four, alleged that school personnel encouraged Yaeli not to talk about transgender problems with her mother, but instead had her join an LGBTQ organization that convinced her that transitioning was the only way to be happy.

The mother, who was born in El Salvador, said that an older trans student 'coached' Yaeli on how to mislead social workers to place her in foster care so that the state would cover the cost of her gender transition.

LA County confirmed in a statement to that they "aggressively pursued the implementation of inclusive, gender-affirming laws, policies and supportive services for LGBTQ+ youth," but blamed Andrew's death in part on "higher rates of suicide" among young gay people.

Any claims that the school district pushed hormones or surgery on students were 'categorically false,' according to the district. Abigail believes the government is to blame for her child's untimely death in a civil case filed in 2020 against LA County and its Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS).

Abigail described Yaeli as 'the girly girl in the house,' dressing up as a princess and gushing about the males she liked at preschool, among her three daughters. In middle school, she was ridiculed for her appearance, and by eighth grade, she was showing indications of depression, according to her mother. At the age of 15 or 16, Yaeli began to question her sexuality in high school.

Abigail said she consented to her daughter's desire to be nicknamed 'Jay,' and that she tried to assist her change in appearance by purchasing her male clothes and giving her a short haircut, which Yaeli then asked her to cover up with long hair extensions.

Though, Abigail claimed that Yaeli's depression, not gender dysphoria, was the issue. Yaeli had attempted to overdose on pills in eighth grade in 2014, and in her freshman year, she attempted to leap over a bridge near the freeway in her hometown of Arcadia, garnering the attention of social workers.

Abigail said that one trans friend and their parents 'coached' Yaeli into fleeing her house in July 2016 and reporting her mother for slapping her in the face to the Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS).

"I never was abusive to my children. I love my children. I never slapped her. But she was coached by this family what to tell the authorities so they cannot send her back home with me," Abigail remarked.

Despite the fact that Martinez preserved custody of her other three children and continued to work as a nanny, a LA family court judge ordered that Yaeli, now known as Andrew, would be placed in foster care with his mother having brief, monitored visitation rights.

When Andrew turned 19 in 2019, he was placed in a 'independent house,' but he struggled to make ends meet and ended up in the hospital following another overdose attempt, according to Abigail.

"She called me and said, 'Mom, I don't have any food, I'm giving my last meal to a friend because she's pregnant,'" Abigail explained. "'I told her I'm going to Costco and dropping off food.' She sent me a message. 'Mom, I wanted to cry because no matter what you're always there for me,'" Abigail said. "[Social workers] asked me not to call her by her first name. I just say 'My child, I love you.' It was very hard," Abigail said.

Abigail said she was struck with fear for no apparent reason one day in September of 2019. "I didn't feel good, I felt a pain in my chest the whole day," she explained.

"I wanted to run and cry, it was a weird feeling I'd never felt before. I got a phone call, they said it was Pomona Police. Around 9:30pm that night, she walked in front of the train tracks facing a train. She went on her knees, raised her arms up and just laid on the tracks. I wasn't able to recognize my daughter. I couldn't see her for the last time. I was told if I wanted to see her I needed to sign a form because there was not much to see," Abigail said.

Abigail claims that she and her family are now 'broken,' and that the state's intervention in Andrew's care, which was supposed to safeguard her, had the opposite effect. Abigail's case was assisted by a former civil rights director for the federal Department of Health and Human Services, who stated that the Arcadia school district and LA County prioritised politics over Andrew's well-being.

Arcadia School District has denied advocating hormone treatment or gender reassignment surgery on any of its students, and has stated that while their staff does not treat depression, they 'work tirelessly' to connect their children to certified mental health specialists.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text the Crisis Text Line (text HELLO to 741741).