Emerald KelliherAge 31 (born 25 Sep 1988)
3 Jan 2020
Montgomery, Alabama (USA)
Emerald took her own life at the graveside of her dog, Zorro. She volunteered with Montgomery Pride and worshipped with the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Montgomery.
In death her family misgendered and deadnamed her.
The following notice was published by her faith community:
Emerald M. Kelliher, 31, a resident of Montgomery, AL, passed away on Friday, January 3rd, 2020. Emerald was born on September 25, 1988 in Enterprise, Alabama. She is survived by her father, Dr. John C. Kelliher and her mother, Anne C. Kelliher. She is also survived by her brother, Phillip Kelliher (Glenda), her sisters, Susan Kelliher, Margot Whatley and Amber Rice (Brandon). She is also survived by numerous nieces and nephews as well as other extended family members. Emerald was preceded in death by her grandparents and her sister, Bridget Mary Kelliher.
Emerald graduated from Loveless Academic Magnet Program in May of 2007. Upon graduation, she was awarded a Congressional German Scholarship. Emerald had a deep love for animals including her beloved companion, Zorro. She also worked, for a period time, with her dad, at his veterinary clinic.
The family is having a private burial service on Monday, January 6th. A memorial service for friends and family will be held on Tuesday, January 7th, at 5:00pm at First Assembly of God in the Jones Chapel, located at 135 Bell Rd, Montgomery, AL. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, http://suicidepreventionlifeline.org or Life on Wheels - Alabama, http://www.lifeonwheelsalabama.com.
— Adapted from the funeral home notice in which she was misgendered and deadnamed by her family, and which can be seen here: https://www.turnersfuneralhome.net/obituary/michael-kelliher.
Her friend and pastor Rev. Lynn Hopkins of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Montgomery wrote the following tribute to her:
Emerald was a cherished member of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Montgomery, and of the community service coalition Montgomery Pride United. She was known as someone who would always step up when someone was in need, even if there was nothing she could do. She had nothing, but she shared everything without reservation. She never sought to disturb or disrupt, but her truth telling often cause disruption and she bore the cost of it. She would not bend or compromise to suit others, and took the hot glares of society and her own family rather than diminish her own truth.
Emerald was an avid singer, a tireless volunteer, a skilled debater, a vibrant actor, and a lover of animals of all types. She struggled with bipolar depression for many years, and though she continued to seek treatment and took her meds, she could never find lasting relief. After the death of her beloved companion dog Zorro in 2019, she began a downward spiral from which she could not recover. Finally unable to see any hope of relief from the crushing pain and relentless isolation in her illness, she ended her own life alone at the Zorro's gravesite.
Montgomery Pride also mourned her passing:
The first known and reported suicide of a transgender person in the U.S. in 2020 occurred Friday, January 3 in Montgomery, Alabama.
Less than one year after the murder of Dana Martin - the first reported transgender victim of murder in the U.S. in 2019 - occurred in Montgomery, the LGBTQ community is once again mourning the death of a transgender person.
Emerald Kelliher - 31 years of age - died Friday, January 3. Emerald had many friends in the LGBTQ+ community in Montgomery, and was well known and loved especially by the transgender and gender-nonconforming community.
She is described by her friends as being bubbly, and a great conversationalist. She was also an activist, a daughter, a lover of animals, a beacon of light and a bright jewel, and someone who dearly loved her friends.
Those that knew Emerald knew that besides being so delightfully different and gender non-conforming and could absolutely rock that little black dress and her floppy hats, knew also that she suffered from mental illness. She had many friends who would sit with her for hours while she poured out her heart. She tried in many different ways to find the root of her depression and frustration. She was desperate for peace.
Emerald will be honored and mourned at a Grief and Loss Support Group hosted by Montgomery PRIDE United Monday evening, January 6th at the Bayard Rustin Community Center located at 635 Madison Ave. in downtown Montgomery and in a memorial service January 11th at 7 PM at the Unitarian Universalists Fellowship 2810 Atlanta Hwy, Montgomery, Alabama 36109.
Finally, this closing quote from the Esquire article In Alabama, Pride Is a Protest for Queer Survival—Even If That Means Protesting Alone seems so poignant - not just for Emerald, but for all of the trans folks we lose to suicide:
So, perhaps Emerald is not gone. Emerald comes along for walks in the park. She lingers in Zoom calls. She exists in the protests that will happen in individual homes across Montgomery and beyond. And now, I suppose she’s with you, too.
Emerald's Facebook profile is https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100012132035122.