HP2 Ben Franklin student

Belle Adelman-Cannon, 17, "combined being intellectually fearless ... with a deep compassion and commitment to justice," according to her teacher, Dr. Crawford Crews.

We are surprised that the paper would publish David Larose’s letter, but here is our response:

We are sorry you were confused about our child’s freedom to publicly live their identity. Certainly the death of our brilliant beautiful child is confusing. Belle’s pronouns, however, are not. Our wonderful child was gender fluid. Our child was not confused. Our child approached his short 17 years with amazing clarity. We, her parents, celebrated who they were in life and were able to hold the complex and complete sense of Belle’s self in our minds. It is rather easy to do, to love your whole child.

Thousands of years of linguistic evolution provide us extensive evidence of how languages gender or do not gender nouns, and verbs, and use the linguistic tool of pronouns in a variety of ways. Our child was not confused but you clearly are. Perhaps your confusion is due to being monolingual. Often people who are monolingual find it really hard to understand how other individuals can be multilingual, fluidly moving between languages and holding them all seamlessly in their mind. Honestly, it is no different, in my view, for one who is gender fluid.

We are grateful for Missy Wilkinson’s coverage. Missy Wilkinson has helped us honor the life of our child.

One small piece of advice. When you need to preface a statement with, “I do not mean to be disrespectful, but. . ..,” you are about to be disrespectful. I advise, in these situations to simply stop.


parents of Belle Adelman-Cannon

New Orleans

Email Stephanie Grace at sgrace@theadvocate.com or follow her on Twitter, @stephgracela.