Seventeen 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 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Leelah_Alcorn)
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 – firstname.lastname@example.org. 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