Honor, respect, affection, grief, humor… a place to share all things Aiden


Feels like forever gone…


Aiden, you are always in our hearts ♥ We love you ♥

The best memorial to Aiden is to stand strong for who you are,

Stand strong for those who are not like you…

For everyone to have their own safe and honoured place in their own way.

You are precious, just as he was.

Memories of Aiden.

L’il Dude, Big Heart

(Artwork © 2010 by estate of Aiden Rivera Schaeff) 

Aiden Rivera Schaeff was a Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School student who entered ninth grade as a girl and after identifying that he felt more at peace as a boy, transitioned to his new identity without hiding who he was.

The school authorities were extremely supportive of his determination to live his life as who he was.

Some of his fellow-students were not as kind.

He committed suicide on April 22, 2010, one month shy of his 18th birthday.

Aiden not only had tremendous personal courage, he was also charming and fun-loving. At his memorial service, many of his friends noted that he had the singular ability to connect with others. His loss was devastating not only to his family but to the wide circle of people who had stood by his side as he made his remarkable journey.

His moms urge you to think about this: How you speak to others matters. Thoughtless, off-hand comments can literally kill people. Each of us helps to create the world. Be kind in it. If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all.

In honor of Aiden’s life, and in an effort to help other youths at risk to survive, we are establishing an endowment fund at the American University in Washington, D.C., to fund student-run initiatives aimed at: 1) Reducing bullying against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered (LGBT) high-school-aged youth, and 2) Helping at-risk youth to survive bullying when it does occur.

To help raise funds to establish the endowment, which has to reach a minimal amount of $50,000 in order to be perpetually managed by the university, we are offering this medallion for sale. The artwork on the medallion is Aiden’s.

For information on contributing to the endowment fund, and purchasing a medallion please click on the medallion or email aidenriveraschaeff@gmail.com



This is a place to share stories, music, drawings, videos…

by, for and about Aiden.

This site will be permanent and so perhaps a better place to put things than Facebook. You can even copy and paste your posts from Facebook or other sites to here, post links to YouTube…

You can mail any content you want posted to aidenriveraschaeff.com@gmail.com

Thank-you, Auntie Jenny

(some of )The Many Faces of Aiden

Members List

Messages to Aiden

*** to add photos, video, music Please email me if you have things to add to the site. We are very happy to have any and all photos, videos that you have. Thanks, Jenny. ***

Angels come in so many forms, blessed are we that are touched by them whether we are aware of it at the time or not.  

116 Responses to Honor, respect, affection, grief, humor… a place to share all things Aiden

  1. Lee Evans says:

    Hi Cathy and Patty.

    Thank you so much for sharing this with everyone. I cannot begin to even understand your pain at his loss but I would like to think of what he has done for me today. He has inspired me to become and even better person than I am now, to show even more love and kindness in the world, to be the change I want to see in the world. He has also inspired me to help others more regardless of age, sex, race, religion or creed, we are all human and all need love and understanding. Thank you again for sharing Aidens story, it has deeply touched me and left a huge impression on my heart. My condolences to you both.

    Kind regards and love


  2. Jesse Gilliam says:

    Hi –

    Thanks so much for sharing Aiden’s life with us and for honoring his memory through your advocacy work to end bullying. I made a small donation in his honor.

    All best

    Jesse Gilliam

  3. Katey Starr and Ari Wernick says:

    Kate: Hi baby, I love you and miss you. This website is such a good way to raise awareness and I love looking through photos of you up here looking all happy and stuff 🙂

    Ari: Hey Aiden, i know we didnt know each other all that well, but you definitely inspired me to be okay with myself and be open about who i am. You are for sure still loved more than you know and youre gonna be missed dude.

  4. Pearl and Nora says:

    I learned about this at community service, I had no idea how sad this would be, even though I never knew Aiden.
    I can’t imagine how sad you are considering how said I am, and I don’t even know him.

  5. janis says:

    aiden, i do not know how we are supposed to do this. our hearts are just so heavy.

    • Aiden's Mom says:

      My plan is to work hard to remind everyone how important it is to be kind, and to try to be so myself (even when I feel churlish). Also, to remind everyone that WE are the world, and that every time we positively touch the other people whose lives bump up against our own, that we are making the world better for everybody.

      The ripple moves outward. I’m not waiting for government or religious or other institutional approval 🙂

      This is MY revolution.

  6. Heather says:

    Please take a look at the short piece Christopher Burgess has written on bullying and now on Aiden. Jen Loforese, from the “I was here.” projected directed me to his website about 34 youngsters who died in 2010 in relation to bullycide. I contacted Mr. Burgess about Aiden and he was very kind and thankful about bringing Aiden to his attention. He has now amended his article and added Aiden.


    xoxoxoxo aunt Heather & Holly

  7. Gabe Schwartz says:

    Day of Silence is at my school today and you’re in my thoughts. I miss you bud ❤

  8. Cathy Schaeff says:

    The picture on the medal (L’il dude big heart) is a self portrait that Aiden drew — he considered himself to be super dude — the caped hero who always stood beside and supported his friends. The bill currently going through the Maryland Senate — which makes it illegal to discriminate against transgendered individuals in housing, the work place and when obtaining credit — is a super dude bill. Knowledge of Aiden’s struggles and death helped committee members decide to put it forward for a vote on the MD senate floor. All the love and support for Aiden and for us, his moms, has translated into many calls to help ensure that the bill now goes forward and becomes law. Knowledge of Aiden’s tragic death is helping to change the world so that hopefully, we will not lose such wonderful people in the future. Pass it forward folks — love and acceptance is a wonderful thing!

  9. jenschaeff says:

    Life Is
    And Through It All
    I Have Learned

    I’ve learned that no matter what happens,
    or how bad it seems today, life does go on,
    and it will be better tomorrow.

    I’ve learned that people will forget what you said,
    people will forget what you did,
    but people will never forget how you made them feel.

    I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person
    by the way he or she handles these three things:
    a rainy day, lost luggage,
    and tangled Christmas tree lights.

    I’ve learned that regardless of the differences
    you have with the people in your life,
    you’ll miss them when they’re gone.

    I’ve learned that making a “living”
    is not the same thing as making a “life.”

    I’ve learned that life sometimes
    gives you a second chance.

    I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life
    with a catcher’s mitt on both hands.
    You need to be able to throw something back.

    I’ve learned that if you pursue happiness,
    it will elude you.

    But if you focus on your family, your friends,
    the needs of others, your work and doing the very best you can,
    happiness will find you.

    I’ve learned that whenever I decide something
    with an open heart,
    I usually make the right decision.

    I’ve learned that even when I have pains,
    I don’t have to be one.

    I’ve learned that every day you should
    reach out and touch someone.
    People love that human touch —
    holding hands, a warm hug,
    or just a friendly pat on the back.

    I’ve learned that you should
    pass this on to someone you care about.
    Sometimes they just need a little something
    to make them smile.

    I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn

    and most of all LIVE
    xo Auntie Jenny

  10. Eliott says:

    It seems like the closer we get to the 22nd I still see him around. I know he’s not there but I still turn around constantly as if it was him a saw out the coner of my eye. He was still the first person besides the grandmothers to see baby Taylor when she was born. I remember how excited he was to come see her. I still show her pictures of him and make sure she’ll never forget her Uncle Aiden. She still looks up sometimes and stares into space and its feels comforting knowing that she’s has a gaurdian angle watching over her and protecting her. I miss him and wish he wasn’t gone. I know I’ll see him again someday in the distance futrue and untill then I’ll do my best to prevent the bulling that people endure due to ignorance and lackof awarness.

  11. Aiden's Mom says:

    Excerpt from Cathy’s testimony April 7, 2011 before Maryland Senate sub-committee, in an effort to get legal protections for transgendered people:

    Other supporters of the bill who testified included Catherine Schaeff, an Associate Dean at American University who lost her transgender son to suicide last year.

    “My son took his life last April and a couple of days before he did so he was weeping and railing against life because he felt like he had tried everything,” she said.

    “He had changed his name legally, he had taken hormones, he couldn’t go back to school, he dropped out … because he couldn’t take the harassment … and he just didn’t know how to go forward with it.

    “We cannot help the people who’ve gone,” she added, “but we can help the people who are there now, and who are going to come along.”

  12. Bailey says:

    It hurts so much, knowing he’s not around anymore. I never got the chance to meet him, but since hearing his story, I think about him every day. I honestly can’t imagine how much it must hurt for those that knew him personally.

    I miss him a lot.

  13. Kaitlyn says:

    I only met but you were an amazing person and I miss you so much ❤

  14. Joshua Pappasaur says:

    I never knew Aiden but I came across this site. When I was reading about him, my eyes started to water, and then I watched the video. I was crying so much! I am so glad he is in a better place. He has inspired me to become a better person. No person should have to go through bullying or hatred.

  15. Sephora says:

    R.I.P Aiden. My friend told me about him in class today. She talked to him once and I’m really sorry for his friends and family.. I hate the fact that people treat others differently just because they are born a certain way or either gay, bi or transgender. Why can’t we all just accept each other for who we are?! I surport gays and trans even though I’m not surpose too.. Bur I know that Aiden is in a better place but he had so much to live for.. I wish he could’ve just went to someone so the could help him instead of ending his life. He was a beautiful person.. I can tell ❤ and I wish I knew him so that I couldve stopped him.. R.I.P Aiden Rivera Schaeff

    • Aiden's Mom says:

      Thanks for your thoughts, Sephora. You can help change the world by the way you are in it. Kindness is everything.

  16. cate says:

    I wish I could say it was getting easier. There are good days, when I can tell people about us and you and smile. I’ve been making a lot of new friends, so since you are a big part of me, I find it necessary. But there are, of course, bad days. Like today. I still have friends…WE still have friends who want to hurt themselves. And it’s out of my control. And I don’t know what to do. I love you so much and I cherish every single hug, fight, bicker-fest, or confusing conversation where we didn’t know if we were fighting or loving each other, that we ever had. But I can’t lose others.
    I love you. Give me strength, please.

    • Aiden's 'Ma' says:


      Just as you are feeling sad, especially as the anniversary of Aiden’s death draws near, so am I. I believe the antidote to despair is to actively challenge unkindness.

      This is the Plan of Action that I espouse:
      1. Be kind in the way you speak to others. Mind your mouth. Don’t make others pay for your momentary glibness.
      2. Be kind in the way you behave with others.
      3. Challenge unkindness when you see it. Step forward when you see some other kid being bullied. Even if that kid is unpopular. Maybe ESPECIALLY if that kid is unpopular.
      4. Help educate others in mindfulness.

      Commit to being a hero in your own life — that is, by continuing to live. (Hence, the little caped hero on the medallion).

      Tell your at-risk friends: If the good people quit, the darkness will prevail. Fuck that. Keep fighting the hard-at-heart. Refuse to be taken down. Add your light to the sum of light. And most of all, be here to be someone’s friend when THEY NEED YOU! (Remember, we haven’t yet met all our friends. We need to be here in the future to meet them and be part of their support system…)

      If you do this every day, then every day of your life you are making the world a better place. And therefore, your life has purpose.

      An interesting thing happened to Cathy and me at Aiden’s memorial service in Montreal last year: A young friend (Aiden’s first babysitter, in fact!) embraced us, weeping, saying that Cathy and I had saved her life when she was young. Now, I am not certain what we said or did that makes her feel that so strongly, but it illustrates the fact that how we are in the world works in ways that we can’t even fathom. I’m glad that for this young friend, whatever kindness we unknowingly offered, it helped her survive.

      We are always “on”. We never know what moment is a critical moment in some other person’s life. So it’s important to make kindness be part of who you are. All the time.

      Love to all,
      Aiden’s Mom

  17. Lisdy sanchez says:

    i never knew you or met you but you story got me to the point of tears.
    Everyone that has posted anything about you on here loves you so much and i bet if i would have ever met you we would have been great friends.I hope your in a better place and at peace. As for all your friends and family i am so greatly sorry for you loss.
    Aiden i hope you can see the many people missing you and finding out about your story. Aiden i just wanted to let you and your family know that you were not just another person in the world that you were more important [and still are] then that and that you made a difference here on earth and you still are.
    Cathy im sorry for your loss and everyone else who knew Aiden closely

  18. I miss you everyday little brother, but I smile instead of wanting to burst into tears when I remember our times we shared together. so many pictures and videos, i’m just glad you are suffering anymore. I love you.

    PS I’m doing a Photography project called “The Trans Bros” Aiden is still a part of it I used a picture he took for his but if anyone is interested go to my DeviantART that should be listed.

  19. Christopher says:

    You’re never forgotten.

  20. Colleen Birt says:

    I just happened across this website after reading Aiden’s story “Trailblazer from Birth”. I am so sorry to all for the loss you have experienced when this brilliant young man took his life. It breaks my heart that there is so much hatred, bullying, and unacceptance in the world today. There are too many young people from all walks of life, be it race, religion, sex, that are bullied and harrassed to the point of suicide, it has to stop! No parent should go through this pain. Our family has experienced the loss of a young loved one. The circumstances were different, but the pain is somewhat similar I’m sure, and it never goes away. Yes, days do get easier to manage. Eventually smiles start to replace the tears and life starts again, but it never the same, you don’t go back to “normal.” One day you realize maybe you only cried a couple times that day until maybe you have a day you don’t cry, even if you do think of Aiden every minute. My heart aches for all of you who love Aiden. Just know that you now have a very special Angel who will look down and watch over all of you. When you feel despair, every so often you may be sent a little message, just enough to let you know that Aiden is still with you in spirit and that he loves you. His passing was not to hurt you, but what he thought was the only way to end his pain. He is loved, even by those of us who did not know him. Please accept my deepest condolences and know that there are many in the world who accept and love everyone (or try to!). Live each day in honor of Aiden, accept the tears and the memories. Someone said to me when I lost a loved one recently, “If it didn’t hurt, it would not have mattered.” It’s true, if there was no sadness at such a loss, it would not have mattered. Obviously, Aiden mattered, Aiden matters. Love to all.

    • Aiden's "Ma" says:

      Dear Colleen,
      I am Aiden’s “Ma”. (In our home, “Ma” and “Mom” were different persons). Today I am preparing a flyer to include in the programs for his high school play, the Laramie Project, so I am very sad right now. I thank you for your kind thoughts to our family. And I am sorry for your loss, too. Moms “get” this. They understand this particular sorrow, how profound the grief is, how terrible the fact is that the act can’t be undone, so your words are especially meaningful to me, and the fact that you took the time to write. I have not been able to participate much in public forums because, simply, I feel too heartbroken, so please forgive me for not acknowledging you until now.
      Like you, I understand how we can love other children we haven’t even met. I, too, fear for kids all over the world who will fall prey to the disregard of others. As parents, we can only protect our children to a point. Eventually, they have to leave our home and find their own ways in the world.
      What I wish is that all of the world’s children could understand that THEY are the world too, and that how they act in it, what they say, how kind they are truly matters. Nobody has to wait for ‘permission’ to be kind. Just go ahead and be so. Our lives touch each others’. The ripple will widen. The world will be improved. The light has not overcome the dark.
      We must all stand firm in our belief that how we act as individuals CAN transform the world. It CAN save lives. It’s so simple, really: If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all.
      Again, thank you for reaching out.
      Your fellow-Mom in sorrow.

  21. Auntie Jenny says:

    We had a huge storm, you are the person that I have always shared the first storms and all the major snows with. I miss you.

  22. Rachel says:

    i love you beautiful. your bear is with me everyday, gets me up in the morning and helps me sleep at night. you’re always here, i know that and i’m never going to let you go. ❤

    • hollow0soul says:

      Hello, my name’s Thomas… I’m a freshman in high school and a proud member of the LGBT(QU) community. I am putting together a GSA assembly for my school to see and I was wondering if I could talk to you about Aiden and who he was and what he meant to you…. I would be extremely grateful if you could please contact me via email or text if your comfortable with that. I saw a “it gets better” video on YouTube and Aiden’s story touched my heart. It would mean the world to me if we could work together to help make my school a better place. I realize we don’t know eachother and this is a lot to ask but please, any and all cooperation will be greatly appreciated! My email is tjv0329@sbcglobal.net. Thank you rachel, in advance for you assistance.
      Thomas VosBurgh

      • Aiden's 'Ma' says:

        Hey Thomas,

        Thanks for taking the time to post your message on Aiden’s website. I am sorry I have not contacted you sooner. I must confess, I am still so heartbroken about Aiden’s death, that I have been laying low and have missed too many messages from people who have reached out via this website.

        I want to be sure that you know I think you are very courageous to stand proud as who you are. Even though I don’t know you personally, know that I’m in your corner. Don’t give up. Don’t let anyone get away with trying to make you be less than fully yourself.

        This having been said, I hope you understand, too, that there will be days when it will be difficult to go out in the world as who you are, and it’s okay if you need to excuse yourself from the battle–whether that be for a while or for a long time. No warrior is able to fight without rest. The important thing is that you stay alive, get through to the other side, find the friends and loved ones who will “get your back”, and refuse to cooperate with those who would see you be taken down.

        If this doesn’t happen until after you escape the hell of high school, then so be it. Just understand that your personal survival comes first. “Live to fight another day.”

        And as you armor yourself, remember the strongest ‘weapon’ you have is kindness, both to yourself and to others. Kindness not only makes the world a better place, it is the antidote to hardness of heart (which is one of the places where bullying resides).

        Anyway, that’s the “Mom” lecture. Stay strong, don’t quit. It DOES get better.
        Patty (Aiden’s Mom)

  23. Julia Strauss says:

    Aiden, though we only hung out a couple of times, I will always remember how friendly you were. After we took summer school together, you never failed to say hi to me when we saw each other in the hall. I still vividly recall how devastated people at B-CC were upon hearing of your death, and how moved I was when I attended your memorial service. I know it’s been months since then, but it still hurts to think about. Today is Trans Remembrance day at my college. We put up dozens of poster around college in honor of trans people whose lives were ended way too soon due to intolerance. I made one for you. I’ve seen so many stop to look at it as they’ve walked by. I hope, wherever you are, you’re able to see how many people have been, and continue to be, affected by your life- even strangers. I think that speaks volumes about how wonderful of a person you were, and are. Although I will never understand your struggle, I will always admire your courage. Honestly, it leaves me awestruck, and has inspired me to become so more aware of cisprivilege, as well as instilled me with a passion for LGBT rights, and a desire to fight ignorance and end hatred. I’m about to go to a candlelight vigil, and just want you to know that I’m thinking about you.

  24. Poe says:

    I can’t wait until it gets colder, so I can wear your amazing Harry Potter coat. (: Love you forever. ❤

  25. Mackenzie Skidmore says:

    i miss you more and more. it gets harder every day… i love you more than anything i’ve ever loved before and nothing will ever ever ever ever change that.

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