Leelah Alcorn, born Josh Alcorn, took her own life at 17 by stepping in front of a tractor trailer. She left a detailed suicide note on her Tumblr, explaining why she did it. This whole sad story is a study in how religion, often times, is little more than child abuse.
The suicide note is heartbreaking, as suicide notes are wont to be. But it’s made worse by the conditions; Leelah was transsexual, and wanted to begin transitioning to a new gender at the age of 16. She adopted the name Leelah, and noted in her suicide letter that she’d felt like a girl since she was four years old, but didn’t learn what being transgender was until she was 14.
Just one problem: her parents were Christians.
The post opens by saying, “If you are reading this, it means that I have committed suicide and obviously failed to delete this post from my queue,” and continues to note that you shouldn’t be sad, because “it’s for the better” and that “the life I would’ve lived isn’t worth living in . . . because I’m transgender.” She goes on to note the relief she found at learning what “transsexual” means, but made the mistake of telling the person who was supposed to unconditionally love her:
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.
And she’s not shy about laying the blame on her parents:
“My mom started taking me to a therapist,” she said, “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.”
“I felt hopeless,” she explained, “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.”
She said she “eased into coming out as trans,” but her parents “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.”
Notice how the parents make it all about them; that’s typical conservative Christian superciliousness.
She explained how she endured the isolation that her parents forced her into:
“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.”
Leelah noted that her “death needs to mean something” and that the only way she’ll find peace is if “transgender people aren’t treated the way I was.” She also had an apology note scheduled, writing, “Mom and Dad: Fuck you. You can’t just control other people like that. That’s messed up.”
Her final words were “Fix society. Please.”
She also begged parents not to condemn their children, but to support them: “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.”
Displaying the sort of self-awareness that we’ve come to expect from people like her, Leelah’s mother posted on Facebook the day her daughter died:
“My sweet 16 year old son, Joshua Ryan Alcorn went home to heaven this morning. He was out for an early morning walk and was hit by a truck. Thank you for the messages and kindness and concern you have sent our way. Please continue to keep us in your prayers.”
Even in death, her own mother couldn’t get her name or gender right.
There is a Justice for Leelah Alcorn Facebook page, for those who are interested in showing support for Leelah and other transgender and transsexual teens like her.