The Unfortunate Case Of Leelah Alcorn

HT_ht_joshua_leelah_alcorn1_ml_141231_16x9_992Seventeen years ago in Kings Mills, Ohio, a child was born into the Family of Mr. and Mrs. Alcorn. They named him Joshua. As a young child, Joshua was unusual; he was effeminate and loved to play in girl’s clothing. He loved dolls, long hair and other things that females are normally inclined to. At the age of four, he started feeling like a girl trapped in a boy’s body.

The family attended the Northeast Church of Christ in Cincinnati and Joshua was raised in a strict Christian home and was constantly fed with what most of our parents filled or do still fill us with – several doses of religious doctrines and ample bible texts.

At the age of fourteen, after several years of emotional torture living in the closet, he decided enough was enough, and decided to come out to his parents. He did and got a stern negative reaction from them. He also made it known to them that he wanted to be referred to as ‘she’ and Leelah, not Joshua.

After denying her request, her parents sent her to Christian conversion therapy intended to convince her to reject her gender identity and accept her sex and gender as a boy. At the conversion therapy, she met more Christians who made her feel worse about herself, telling her how selfish of a person she was and how she should seek God for help. Her parents removed her from school and forbade her from using the social media.

At the age of sixteen, she requested to undergo gender transition treatment, but her request was met with rejection from her parents.

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.” – Leelah

Her parents always talked to her in derogatory tones, often saying things like: ‘You’ll never be a real girl’ or ‘What’re you going to do, fuck boys?’ or ‘God’s going to send you straight to hell’.

These all made me feel awful about myself. I was Christian at the time so I thought that God hated me and that I didn’t deserve to be alive.” – Leelah

Prior to her death on December 28, 2014, Alcorn had scheduled for her suicide note to be automatically posted on her Tumblr account at 5.30pm. In the note, she stated her intention to end her life, commenting:

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.”

Alcorn cited loneliness and alienation as key reasons to end her life and blamed her parents for causing these feelings. She ended her life by walking out in front of oncoming traffic. You can read the full story on Wikipedia (

The note ended with the statement:

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.”

On December 28 at 2:56 p.m., Alcorn’s mother, Carla Wood Alcorn, posted a public message on the social media website Facebook, stating: “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.”

Leelah’s story sent shockwaves down my spine. I could easily relate to her life of torture and depression, feeling like an abomination and a useless being, feeling like you were born wrong. The statement above, “My death needs to mean something”, reminds me of the movie 300; it’s just like the statement made by King Leonidas just before he died: “Remember us, remember why we died…”

It’s quite disheartening too see parents, who are supposed to shower their children with unconditional love, drive them to commit suicide instead. That’s why I’ve always talked about coming out only when you’re independent. Even though I don’t support any form of suicide, there’s something alluring about it; by doing it, you make the choice for yourself, you end it in your own terms instead of letting the world decide for you.

Even in her death, the mother still insults Leelah’s memory by referring to her as her “son, Joshua”, even though she wanted to be called Leelah.

Leelah’s death should mean something to all of us. It gives us an insight on the life of a gay American teenager living under strict religious principles who eventually got tired of the pretence. We should all learn from it.

If you’re feeling like killing yourself, we have our KD helpdesk – Please don’t hesitate to send a mail. There are people who will help you out of any situation you might be in, no matter how difficult it might seem. Life is too precious to be wasted; there shouldn’t be another Leelah Alcorn.

For those of us planning to get married to a lady in future, please endeavor to teach your kids the “true” way of life and the meaning of life, away from any religious dogma. Shower them with unconditional love because that’s the greatest gift you could ever give to them.

We’ve seen that the only reason people hate homosexuality is because of religion. Ask them to give you any other reason and they’ll simply go mute. Most of us have never really ‘lived’ because we’re too busy trying to cover our backs; there’s no sleep when you’re living in Tartarus.

Let’s all join hands to stop suicide, encourage each other, motivate and inspire each other so we can achieve a healthier and better future for ourselves. Let’s aspire to make our lives matter in live, not in death.

Written by Max

40 thoughts on “The Unfortunate Case Of Leelah Alcorn

  1. This is disheartening!

    I have always maintained that family is supposed to be the unit of unconditional love and if they fail to provide that, then they loose the title of family.

    I told you guys about the day my then pastor said God should take away the life of a child who will embarrass him with “homosexualism”

    Is that not how Kenneth Hagin’s (Shebi that’s his name) grandson came out and then committed suicide? He knew he couldn’t “disgrace” his parents like that, so he took his own life.

    I mean even animals protect their offspring, some of these parents are just horrible!

    RIP dear angel, or no! Turn to a vicious ghost and torture your parents, haunting them forever!

  2. Suicide’s never the best.

    Who knows? Parents could have changed their minds or revoke their stance over the issue on new year’s eve.

    Hmmm. Suicide? Kai.

  3. This is so disheartening, so sad this should happen to you @ such young age 16.
    But leelah, I couldn’t even do suicide, can’t think about it but your death was for a cause and definitely it will be FIXED.


    NB: I think its high time I subscribe for the KD help support team. Still pensive about it.

  4. RIP Leelah … hope you find the peace abd happiness you were so cruelly denied here on earth.
    As for Nigerians, homophobia is deeply engraved in their DNA, it will take generations to undo the damage …

  5. “We’ve seen that the only reason people hate
    homosexuality is because of religion.”
    I’ve seen nothing of the sort,what I’ve seen thus far is ignorance,fear of what is unknown,what feels strange to them,people feeling inadequate with themselves and thereby lashing out at others,those they feel are beneath them/can’t fight back.
    The faith I know has never advocated hate,rather it’s built on love,advocates love and thrives on love.
    We really should be careful how we throw words about or arrive at conclusions we feel will make us better,else we’ll be no better than those we rail at.
    Were it in my powers,the parents would be put in stockade and publicly lashed for days on end.

    • Africa for generations has always been afraid of and condemned that which we cannot understand.

      We were killing twins on this same continent at a time, simply because we did not understand how more than one baby pops out at a time. Till date albinos are killed in certain African countries, cos they are not understood.

      This is the narrative! We cannot understand how people love same gender, so again we condemn and kill!

      • I love you so much for this comment Dennis.People are too quick to condemn what they don’t understand.Even in many villages today people still believe that red oil,egusi soup and pear causes malaria;Can u beat that??!!!mtchewwww! IGNORANCE is the most vicious disease on earth if u ask me.

      • My point,Dennis.
        That narrative has nothing to do with the Creator and how He wants us interacting with Him and our fellow man.We should call it by its name,Fear.
        Now,if that Fear is what Max would nickname religion,I have no problem with that but he should make that clear and plain.
        Really gets my groats when people would ridicule Faith and Worship,all in a bid to get back at the ignorant and the cowards.Makes us no better than they are.Leaving all that for another discourse,don’t want to derail.This thread is about Leelah and “her” foolish parents.

      • D what is the problem exactly? Religion or Africanism? Though as someone said earlier, I think the problem we have is with ignorance

    • Truth is that religion is a new influence on this trend. Culture has a stronger hold, which is fueled by not understanding and subsequently being afraid of the same thing!

      Now religion is a new entrant to this dynamic, fueled mostly by the American evangelical movement (has anyone seen the documentary “God loves uganda”)?

      What africa needs is education and information. This is how the west trumps us, when they see something they don’t understand they study it and try to make sense of it, but we just condemn!

      It’s a pity really

      • Dennis you are so on point. People tend are too lethargic to study phenomenons that beats their comprehension rather they look for shelter under attacks of things that a simple study would have unveiled

      • @Gardener, if you’ve noticed lately, I’ve been ignoring your silly shades here and there which you seem to ditch out whenever you’re not changing diapers or washing off poo. Read the piece again. It’s not a piece about religion!! . get it in your T-rex skull and stop your cheap shades. Its really unbecoming of you!!..

    • Oh dear, I get your point. People are xenophobes. I get that.
      I believe in God, not organized religion. This piece isn’t about ridiculing anyone’s faith . Its about the unfortunate thing that a young teenager had to endure and which ultimately led to his death. A lot of us here have considered suicide as a way out.

  6. Such a sad tale. These parents will yet realise that the people in their church and society that they are trying to please by treating their child this way still have their children with them. They on the other hand have lost theirs by following doctrines that preach contempt instead of unconditional love. It reminds me of the story of another family shared here where the parents after losing their son wished they had loved him ‘just because he breathes’
    Onye aghogburu ka agbara, finally.
    Rest in Power, Leelah.

  7. Sad as this is, I dont think anything justifies suicide and I do not sympthatize with it. Your teenage years are rough but one just has to pull through them . the west places so much empathy on suicide which in a way gives ppl the audacity to even consider it.

    Over here suicide is so taboo that even thinking about it seems lik such an abnormality. And thats how it should be

    • With all the bitterness and hate you spew i am surprised you don’t hate the world and yourself enough to commit suicide. Everyone cannot be the same Chizzie. You can never really understand what goes on in peoples’ heads until you are in-there yourself. Anyone watch Glee, Dave Karovsky i think and his suicide case. and even Kurt and even Unique they all had experiences. and even though Unique liked to put up the diva front, she still broke down sometimes(when she sand ‘if i were a boy’)
      You don’t have to understand how some people can commit suicide just as everyone doesn’t have to understand that you are a flaming gay man.

      • you saying u are surprised that I havent killed myself because I am opinionated and frank rather than generic and conform to mass reasoning like you, really just emphasises how dull ur reasonsing is.

        Your opinion as in this case, continues to remain irrelevant to me but try and put some effort not to come across as callous next time

    • You are opinionated,frank……………and as intelligent as a door post,Chizzie.That you’ve not the misfortune of being in the dreich,that place the eye does not see,where the only seeming way out is to end it all,gives you no right to be an ass.
      You don’t understand it,we know.You’re not intelligent enough,but please do us all the favour of knowing when to keep your pie-hole shut.Or need I quote Mark Twain for you here?

      • stereotyping is not entirely wrong after all. Gays seem to have one thing in common: mastery in the use of derogatives and inability to restrain oneself verbally

    • Chizzie….. U dnt know what pple go through…. U dnt know how much pple have been pushed to d wall and bruised by that wall, U have to be in their shoes to understand, I av a friend that committed suicide back then in Uni almost three years now… I still regret that I was never there for him and am still regretting.

      • OMG!!! law you should totally write a story as to why he killed himself (if you know) maybe some very ignorant people can learn from it.

      • In times like this, the natural reaction from me would have been to say it the way I feel but with the realization that people with different levels of understanding are here, I will try and be less blunt. There is no justification for suicide! For those who are contemplating suicide,look at it like this; you are in a battle with an enemy(this enemy could be family,religion,relationship,finances or any other issues of life), rather than stand and fight and persevere till victory is earned,you give up by taking your own life. That’s failure. Call it cowardice and you are right. All we are passing through is common to man. Heroes fought and won and are celebrated but cowards and weaklings give up. I will rather be on the winning side. Heroes are winners

    • You guys are not for real, seriously. One would think that being at the receiving end of intolerance would make us have some compassion.
      ‘No justification for suicide’ That’s all you can come up with. I guess you’ve never heard of the illness called depression, nor of its symptoms of lack of pleasure in anything, nor of the fact that when severe it comes with suicidal thoughts which the individual can carry out.
      I wish you’d pause for a while and ask yourself what would drive someone to end this life that people love so much. Did yiu even spare a thought for the distress this child was passing through living with such obtuse parents.
      Here’s a word of advice (it is unsolicited I know but I feel you need to be told, drop this diva, bitchy, abi frank or opinionated act, it is stale.

      • Shut up,gad.
        You’ve not made an atom’s worth of sense thus far.Nobody here has advocated suicide as a way out,but to say there’s no justification for suicide?.What alternate universe have you been living in?.It’s sure not reality,I say.

  8. R.I.P. Leelah dear… I feel ur pain. If only ur parent were fair. This is very cruel. Pushing ur own child to his death. Una go suffer big time@her parents. My question still remain does religion preaches Hate,or they got their doctrine wrong or what?.
    I pray mine never gets to that point cos I’m so tired of living in pretence. Though sucide can never be my in peace babe.

    • The issue of religion and sexuality is often over blown. Religion especially christian religion and African traditional religion doesn’t preach hate against homosexuals. The isolated cases we have seen over time were the handiwork of few but sadly vocal over-zealous clerics

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