by BRIANNA SICILIANO Social Media Coordinator
A young transgender woman named Leelah Alcorn committed suicide on Sunday, December 28 after being treated as if her life and identity were unwanted.
Seventeen years ago, Joshua Alcorn was welcomed into this world by his Christian parents Doug and Carla. At the age of four, Josh felt “like a girl trapped in a boy’s body,” and “at the age of 14, learned what transgender meant and cried of happiness. After 10 years of confusion [Josh] finally understood who [he] was.” He was a she – a beautiful she named Leelah Alcorn.
When Leelah was 14, and she realized what transgender meant, she told her mother the truth: she was a woman trapped in a man’s body. Right away, her mother reacted in a negative way, saying that this was all just a phase that would one day be outgrown and that “God doesn’t make mistakes, and that [Leelah] was wrong.”
Soon after revealing her identity to her mother, Leelah’s parents sent her to therapy (but not just any therapy; they sent her to biased, Christian therapists). In ‘therapy’ sessions, she was told that she was wrong, selfish, and should be looking for help from God. The thing is, she was looking for help! She was looking for acceptance and love, and looking to transition into the true person she was.
In her suicide note, Leelah wrote, “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.”
Last time I checked, parents and family members are supposed to be the first people to love and accept you for who you are. Parents are the people who are supposed to love you and support you unconditionally, and help you love yourself in any way they can. Leelah’s parents knew what they were doing. The Alcorns knew that their refusal of acceptance was not something that their daughter (or in their eyes, son) would take lightly.
Before coming out as transgender to everyone in school, Leelah came out as gay so that people would not face a major shock. Leelah’s friends were very positive and supportive through this, but her parents were not. As punishment, Leelah’s parents took her out of public school, took away her phone and laptop, and isolated her from everyone who supported her identity.
“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,” Leelah wrote in her suicide note.
For five months, Leelah had no friends, support, or love. She was extremely depressed and contemplated suicide. At the end of the school year, she was rewarded with her electronics and social media accounts. By the time Leelah was interacting with her friends again, she thought that those ‘friends’ did not actually care about her; they were enthusiastic at first, but not for too long. Depression was back, and it hit hard.
Leelah decided that she had had enough; she believed that she would never be happy with herself, transition the way she wished to, or be loved the way she deserved to be.
On an early Sunday morning, Leelah stepped in front of a tractor-trailer on Interstate 71 and was killed.
She committed suicide because of the missing support and love from her life, and she will probably be buried in a suit with the name “Joshua” on her grave because her parents would rather have a dead son than have a healthy, happy, beautiful daughter. Did Leelah’s parents love her? Yes, they most likely did, but what they failed to do was support her, and love the person she truly was.
The last few lines of Leelah’s suicide letter read, “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 f***ed up’ and fix it. Fix society. Please. Goodbye, (Leelah) Josh Alcorn.”
As a society, we must make a change. We must allow all sorts of people to come out as their true selves, no matter who or what they are. We must show love, support, and respect. We must fix the mess we are living in.
What do you think about this entire situation? Do you think that we will be able to make the changes? Will Leelah finally be able to rest in peace one day?