Leelah Alcorn posted a suicide note to social media before taking her own life this past Sunday. The note detailed Leelah’s struggle with her conservative Christian parents as a transgender teenager. Her parents refused to accept Leelah, insisting on calling her “Josh,” and, according to Leelah’s heartbreaking note, forced her to attend “Christian therapy.”
Her parents did not support her, or try to understand what being transgender means. Leelah’s parents are speaking out, and gave an interview to CNN on Wednesday. In the interview, Leelah’s mother Carla said she and Leelah’s father loved “him,” but didn’t support “that, religiously.” Throughout the entire interview, Carla Alcorn referred to Leelah by “Josh,” and called Leelah “him.”
My friend and hero, Gwen Andrix, a transgender woman and activist, shared Leelah’s suicide note to my Facebook wall Sunday evening. As I slowly read it, tears streamed down my face. As I write this article, my eyes are filling, because I wish Leelah had been my kid. When, at age 14, she found the words to describe who she was, if she had come to me, I would have said “I love you.” I would have hugged the stuffing out of her, and we would have talked about what this meant, what the next steps were, what doctors she needed to start transitioning. I would have loved her. Our primary job as parents is to keep our children safe, support them, and help them navigate life. Rejecting them for who they are is not part of parenting.
Jason Dye, a writer here at Forward Progressives, shared the link to the CNN article on Facebook. Another friend, Jason, mentioned the comments being posted under the article, and others about Leelah’s death. Because I have unwavering hope for humanity, I clicked over to CNN’s Facebook page. I need to point out the first comment was from CNN, and it was a link to a suicide hotline, with this accompanying text:
If you are experiencing any suicidal thoughts, you can find help on this site: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ Or call this number for free, confidential help: 1-800-273-8255.
Thank you, CNN. Much of Leelah’s story contains triggers, and this was a truly empathetic and caring thing to do. Unfortunately, many of the other comments from conservative Christians, were not filled with empathy. Please note-the reason I use the phrase “conservative Christian” is that the language used by so many of these people mirrors exactly what conservative Christians in the public eye, like Michele Bachmann, Stan Solomon, Phyllis Schlafly and others, say about the LGBT community on a daily basis.
If you know me, you know I drag hate into the light. I think it is extremely important to expose these people as often as possible, especially given the statistics on transgender suicide, and violence against the transgender community. When Gwen posted Leelah’s suicide note, she wrote “This is what people like the Duggars cause.” She is absolutely right, which is why I am sharing some of the comments left underneath CNN’s article on Leelah Alcorn with you. Trigger warnings for hate speech and transphobia.
Jonathan Bennett:What the hell you think buddy your parents are religious they won’t except your sinning. Take your suicide note and shove it
Belkys Faustin-Zapeta:They did love their Son! Don’t confuse love with tolerance, if God created you make or female is because that’s what you have to be.. What many people don’t understand is that these behaviors are demonic spirit that poses a person life whether you are a child or an adult. No men in Earth can remove this feeling unless you are accept Christ as your personal savior with all your heart…..
Jon Campø:Actually a true Christian would follow gods word and stone him to death
Lovely Vivian:Josh just sent himself to hell earlier…
Brucie Griffin:Gay guys are disgrace to humanity. They brought diseases.
Frank Oliver:Mom said she loved him unconditionally, but as his Mother she could not just accept his irrational behavior without concern or comment, and anyone who is a parent can or at least should understand that, but as usual social media judges a person guilty based on their own uninformed opinion – they were not his mother or father!
And now, the hope, the love, the empathy.
Karina Heredia Morales:Rest in peace sweetheart. I’m sorry that we failed you as a society. I’m sorry that people in our country are still afraid of what they don’t understand and that they opt to oppress and discriminate those who are different. I’m sorry that there wasn’t one person in your life to convince you that you were beautiful just the way you were and that your life was precious. I hope that parents raise their children to be kind and accepting individuals so that future generations will not have to suffer the same fate that you did. Sleep now, your suffering is over.
Kerri Anne:If you are not ready to accept anything you erroneously consider abnormal, like being gay, trans, bi, disabled, mentally ill, etc. you have no business bringing a child into this world. Don’t you dare become a parent and then try to turn your back on your child. Your job is to help them survive and guide them to be happy and healthy individuals of their choosing. Not to control them and force them to follow your beliefs.
Amy Fabick: The comments are appalling. And point to the exact reason why suicide rates for lgbt teens are so high
Sara Zuckerman:What is wrong with you people? Conversion therapy has been debunked scientifically and is downright unethical, based on the harm it causes. Judge not, lest ye be judged.
A life is over too soon. Another LGBT child is gone, because of hate, religious fervor, and ignorance.
If you are an LGBT teen, the parent of an LGBT teen, or know an LGBT teen who is in crisis, please contact The Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386. If you would like to help the transgender community in Leelah’s state of Ohio, please visit TransOhio’s Facebook page. And if you plan to leave a hateful comment, filled with ignorance and bigotry, stop. LGBT kids are bullied to death, thrown out of their homes, abused, murdered, and commit or attempt suicide at a much higher rate than heterosexual teens. Which would you like to promote: love or hate? Acceptance or misery? What would you have said to Leelah Alcorn? To Justin? Samantha? Jamey?
Peace to you, Leelah. I’m sorry you were driven to a place of such sorrow and desperation.