Leelah Alcorn, a normal 17 year old transgender teen wanting to blossom into the fuller human being and adult she had every potential to become, yet she was cut down by suicidal depression. Her gender anxiety combined with a cloistered existence within the small world and box she had been stuffed into as a member of a home and community that in large part, could not co-exist with her reality overwhelmed her.
The result, (suicides and murders of trans kids and adults) occurs far more than just about any of us realizes. I don’t believe that Leelah wanted to die. I don’t think that she would have wanted us to pity her existence or circumstances now that she has. I think Leelah felt like and had become convinced that life was hopeless and she was no longer able to see beyond her circumstances except to imagine that whatever lay ahead for her would be unbearable; that the promise of peace that comes through death would have to be a better alternative compared to living in a miserable life made so complex by having a profound sense of being born into the wrong sex role and physical sex.
Leelah WAS happy with her gender identity despite what others might have thought. She was a happy little one inside. She was very intelligent as well. It was through her collision with a physical body and the expectations of her loved ones and community that she came to feel that life was so not worth living.
Reading Leelah’s suicide note may open hearts and minds to the reality that trans kids and trans people of all ages are struggling with and the futile attempts by fundamentalists to reel them in. At some point, we will learn to accept these people with their uniquely different lives, and many of us will eventually be able to see their individual worth and value to our communities. This is my hope for now.
Go To Leelah’s Suicide Note
[or you can read the note in its entirety below this post]
Give transgender kids the protection, services, guidance, love and acceptance THEY as individuals need and stop with this self-serving religious craziness. Stop and consider: WWJD??!
If one can’t do these things then the very least a parent can and should do is not block the way, allowing these precious children to find the support that keeps their unique situation and lives healthy and leads them in the direction of success as individuals and adults. A parent does not have to agree with their child or change religious perspectives to demonstrate basic acceptance and to allow a separate human being to be true to themselves or to seek out their own wholeness. Suck it up and accept the child and future adult you were given and quit banging your heads against the brick wall of denial. Let the child find it’s own way and be responsible for the life they were given or the one they will create. It’s not your life to live and not your fault!! But that takes guts! It takes great courage to live and let live! Trust=Faith Trust in the inner voice that is within these children and in parents too and guiding each of them like a compass toward healing.
Drugs, acting out sexually, hanging out with bad people that could harm them are all things to take a stand against as long as a parent exercises basic discernment. Some drugs can obviously have healing effects for our children. People outside of our families, even outside of our faith who share a different understanding and experience can clearly be good for our kids and are not to be stereotyped as a group unnecessarily and judged as bad people (i.e., gender or sex therapists). Some gender specialists or sex therapists who are available to provide services to our children have an abiding belief in God and they worship Jesus Christ. Acting out sexually with another child or adult can lead to a child into hurtful relationships before their are skills developed to mitigate what adults must face. Remaining true to one’s own personal sexual orientation and identity are separate issues. As parents, we must learn to see the difference to understand what acting out sexually truly means.
Despite the testimony of all of human history and the lessons of the past half-century, Christians today persist in the belief that being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender are all choices or that to chose to accept or fulfill one of these states of being is to chose to sin against God. Beyond these assumptions, believers go sometimes go to great extremes to reset and restore their loved one only to unwittingly, guide their LGBT child toward a tragic, even fatal collision with a personal reality.
Perhaps allowing a child to be adopted by loving parents who have no problem supporting a transgender kid would have been better than driving one of our own to such dark depths of despair.
What happened to love and common sense that was surely shouting out, loud and clear in the minds of Leelah’s parents, “..the path you are presently on will lead to your child’s destruction”? People, re-sensitize and then listen to and your hearts. Realize your lock-step allegiance with a religious cult when your heart conflicts with what you are being told from the pulpit. Learn to use your God-given minds and exercise the intelligence that you were given to surrender this ridiculous and dire legalism that is the bane of religious dogma. What is at stake? Your own flesh and blood, your very own child, your precious loved one!
Parents are charged with protecting and nurturing their children. What they may not have been taught is how to recognize that a one-size paradigm or world view does not fit all. Hard as it is to learn, pushing our own views on our children can in fact be deadly as has been demonstrated in Leelah’s tragic death. She was so hurt and so angry and her life as it was shown to her was so utterly hopeless that she couldn’t bare to continue on with it.
So what of Leelah’s parents or the congregation that they were a part of?
I’m certain that both parents are living in shock and are for now quite devastated. It is likely that they are reeling with pain having lost a child that they worked so hard to protect (so they thought) and in whom they had invested a great deal of time and resources.
They must be struck by bewilderment born of witnessing the self termination of a individual’s life. I don’t wish them harm when I say this, although this blog post is not written for their benefit and if they read it they might be offended or hurt by it. If by chance YOUR ARE reading my words know that I my condolence even in my disrespect. I wish you well again and hope that in your life comes some healing and opportunities to learn what was given to you and has been lost. Healing DEMANDS that you realize who and what Leelah was. To get beyond this tragic mess, the years of struggle that still lay ahead and now the horrendous community backlash, the two of you must eventually come to terms with what you did (confession). In no small way, you must honor Leelah’s life and as difficult as it may be, her death also for she paid a hefty price.
I’ve heard rumors that Leelah is being buried in male clothing and that her headstone will be engraved only with her birth name. …So what. She’s gone and nothing further that these two will do can ever change this fact. They can continue to disrespect her and this won’t change a thing, there will be no transformation for Leelah or her parents without full confession and conversion. Others know what has happened, Leelah has been lifted up by these people and not all of them are as angry as I am. Maybe they will get the point across to this family or to this church and community.
Here I sit living the truth of my own reality, not something I have chosen or that I ever wanted to deal with while you two are most likely carrying on in this way! Yes, I’m sure that you are both kneeling at your local Alter, with laying on of hands, crying and moaning, burying your heads still further in the proverbial sand pit. I can hear it now…”Oh God, please forgive our son for he knew not what he was doing.” “Oh God, please take vengeance on all those horrible trannies on the Internet who infected our innocent child’s soul with all their filthy evil.” Give me a frigg’n break!
I’m not feeling sorry for myself and waiting for someone to save me. I accepted it! Once I could get my head around the fact that my gender didn’t match my body I took steps, the first of which were to tell my friends and family members. It’s what we do. We come out. We don’t want everyone to hate us! We fear as much but we don’t expect our loved ones to turn on us. We can deal with the fact that some of our friends and a few family members might disown us but again, we don’t expect or want an attack or battle that leaves us vulnerable to unfriendly fire or the engagement of our only supporters!
I don’t pretend that I’m a genetic female either. I know that I’m male living as a female in a feminized body just like every other MTF transgender. Some stop with clothing others go all the way with surgery. It’s not up to our parents. All we ask of them is to love us and accept us for who we are. If they chose to stand by us or are willing to help us we are beside ourselves with joy knowing that much of the rest of the world will either not care one way or the other or will be wholly against us. There are few allies in this world for a transgender person, parents SHOULD know this and come to the aid of a transgender child – not attack them with aversion therapies and punishments.
From my perspective, what you’ve done is inexcusable.
…I don’t know, maybe God sees things differently; maybe He will forgive you.
He will have to forgive me of some things I’m not proud of; no I’m not perfect.
So who am I to judge, right?
Ref: Leelah Alcorn RIP:
If you are reading this, it means that I have committed suicide and obviously failed to delete this post from my queue.
Please don’t be sad, it’s for the better. The life I would’ve lived isn’t worth living in… because I’m transgender. I could go into detail explaining why I feel that way, but this note is probably going to be lengthy enough as it is. To put it simply, I feel like a girl trapped in a boy’s body, and I’ve felt that way ever since I was 4. I never knew there was a word for that feeling, nor was it possible for a boy to become a girl, so I never told anyone and I just continued to do traditionally “boyish” things to try to fit in.
When I was 14, I learned what transgender meant and cried of happiness. After 10 years of confusion I finally understood who I was. I immediately told my mom, and she reacted extremely negatively, telling me that it was a phase, that I would never truly be a girl, that God doesn’t make mistakes, that I am wrong. If you are reading this, parents, please don’t tell this to your kids. Even if you are Christian or are against transgender people don’t ever say that to someone, especially your kid. That won’t do anything but make them hate them self. That’s exactly what it did to me.
My mom started taking me to a therapist, but would only take me to christian therapists, (who were all very biased) so I never actually got the therapy I needed to cure me of my depression. I only got more christians telling me that I was selfish and wrong and that I should look to God for help.
When I was 16 I realized that my parents would never come around, and that I would have to wait until I was 18 to start any sort of transitioning treatment, which absolutely broke my heart. The longer you wait, the harder it is to transition. I felt hopeless, that I was just going to look like a man in drag for the rest of my life. On my 16th birthday, when I didn’t receive consent from my parents to start transitioning, I cried myself to sleep.
I formed a sort of a “fuck you” attitude towards my parents and came out as gay at school, thinking that maybe if I eased into coming out as trans it would be less of a shock. Although the reaction from my friends was positive, my parents were pissed. They felt like I was attacking their image, and that I was an embarrassment to them. They wanted me to be their perfect little straight christian boy, and that’s obviously not what I wanted.
So they took me out of public school, took away my laptop and phone, and forbid me of getting on any sort of social media, completely isolating me from my friends. This was probably the part of my life when I was the most depressed, and I’m surprised I didn’t kill myself. I was completely alone for 5 months. No friends, no support, no love. Just my parent’s disappointment and the cruelty of loneliness.
At the end of the school year, my parents finally came around and gave me my phone and let me back on social media. I was excited, I finally had my friends back. They were extremely excited to see me and talk to me, but only at first. Eventually they realized they didn’t actually give a shit about me, and I felt even lonelier than I did before. The only friends I thought I had only liked me because they saw me five times a week.
After a summer of having almost no friends plus the weight of having to think about college, save money for moving out, keep my grades up, go to church each week and feel like shit because everyone there is against everything I live for, I have decided I’ve had enough. I’m never going to transition successfully, even when I move out. I’m never going to be happy with the way I look or sound. I’m never going to have enough friends to satisfy me. I’m never going to have enough love to satisfy me. I’m never going to find a man who loves me. I’m never going to be happy. Either I live the rest of my life as a lonely man who wishes he were a woman or I live my life as a lonelier woman who hates herself. There’s no winning. There’s no way out. I’m sad enough already, I don’t need my life to get any worse. People say “it gets better” but that isn’t true in my case. It gets worse. Each day I get worse.
That’s the gist of it, that’s why I feel like killing myself. Sorry if that’s not a good enough reason for you, it’s good enough for me. As for my will, I want 100% of the things that I legally own to be sold and the money (plus my money in the bank) to be given to trans civil rights movements and support groups, I don’t give a shit which one. The only way I will rest in peace is if one day transgender people aren’t treated the way I was, they’re treated like humans, with valid feelings and human rights. Gender needs to be taught about in schools, the earlier the better. My death needs to mean something. My death needs to be counted in the number of transgender people who commit suicide this year. I want someone to look at that number and say “that’s fucked up” and fix it. Fix society. Please.
(Leelah) Josh Alcorn