Goodbye, Leelah

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“Please don’t be sad, it’s for the better,” the note reads. “The life I would’ve lived isn’t worth living in… because I’m transgender.”

leelah-alcorn16-year-old Leelah Alcorn died Sunday morning at 2:20 a.m. in a suspected suicide. Police believe she had walked three or four miles from her parent’s house in Kings Mill, Ohio to Interstate 71 where she leaped in front of a truck.

Following her death, a suicide note appeared on Alcorn’s Tumblr blog that suggested that she intended to kill herself. The missive offers a heartbreaking glimpse into the life of a teenager struggling with being accepted by her family and unable to see a hopeful future for herself:

If you are reading this, it means that I have committed suicide and obviously failed to delete this post from my queue.

Please don’t be sad, it’s for the better. The life I would’ve lived isn’t worth living in… because I’m transgender. I could go into detail explaining why I feel that way, but this note is probably going to be lengthy enough as it is. To put it simply, I feel like a girl trapped in a boy’s body, and I’ve felt that way ever since I was 4. I never knew there was a word for that feeling, nor was it possible for a boy to become a girl, so I never told anyone and I just continued to do traditionally “boyish” things to try to fit in.

When I was 14, I learned what transgender meant and cried of happiness. 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. 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.

My mom started taking me to a therapist, 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.

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.

I formed a sort of a “fuck you” attitude towards my parents and came out as gay at school, thinking that maybe if I eased into coming out as trans it would be less of a shock. Although the reaction from my friends was positive, my parents were pissed. 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.

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.

At the end of the school year, my parents finally came around and gave me my phone and let me back on social media. I was excited, I finally had my friends back. They were extremely excited to see me and talk to me, but only at first. Eventually they realized they didn’t actually give a shit about me, and I felt even lonelier than I did before. The only friends I thought I had only liked me because they saw me five times a week.

After a summer of having almost no friends plus the weight of having to think about college, save money for moving out, keep my grades up, go to church each week and feel like shit because everyone there is against everything I live for, 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. As for my will, I want 100% of the things that I legally own to be sold and the money (plus my money in the bank) to be given to trans civil rights movements and support groups, I don’t give a shit which one. 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 fucked up” and fix it. Fix society. Please.

Goodbye,
(Leelah) Josh Alcorn

After her daughter’s death, Alcorn’s mother posted a message on her Facebook page that said: “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.”

Via Gay Star News, Queerty & WCPO. Please read more on Unfinished Lives.

Comments 42

  1. Also for those who need to talk to someone :

    National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (USA): 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
    Transgender Lifeline (USA): +187 756 588 60
    Trevor project Lifeline : +1-866-488-7386
    Samaritans (UK): 08457 90 90 90
    Suicide Prevention (Aus): 13 11 14
    Suicide Ecoute (france) : 01 45 39 4000

    ( if you know other helplines just post it )

  2. . . . and the Mom doesn’t even admit her child committed suicide. Wow. She deserves to serve time for essentially neglecting her child (to death.) A drunk driver who hits and kills gets punished, but a parent like this answers to no one, it’s truly disgusting.

    1. Sadly you have to take a test to operate a vehicle but any *ss*ole can have a child. RIP Leelah.

  3. It’s amazing how many parents think that they can force their child to lead the life they want their child to lead, and not the life the child chooses — and wants. I wonder how long it will be before her Mom — Carla Alcorn — understands why Leelah did what she felt she must.

    1. Call Carla and ask her yourself. Their phone number is listed in White Pages dot com under Douglas K Alcorn.

        1. If you are loving because it feels good to everyone, is there an issue? Unattached to the outcome means that you love without strings – you give it, and the person can do with it what they will. If you choose to stay in a reanliotship which is wholly onesided, I would still question the reason, in spite of children and a whole family life.Love given as a duty is not love. Being a doormat is not love. Stayin with a long term partner who is unable to love you back makes me question fears, needs, hopes, self belief. Perhaps this post will shed some light on it –

  4. Parents are rightly possessive. Perhaps too many look at children as possessions. Another depressing tale of no compassion from the land of utterly fucked up christians.

    1. Would be nice if we could stop using that label for folks who show none of the fruits required to claim it, The “Good book” says “By their fruits you shall know them.” Few who use the title actually are. Those fruits are:
      1 Love (Greek: agape, Latin: caritas)
      2 Joy (Greek: chara, Latin: gaudium)
      3 Peace (Greek: eirene, Latin: pax)
      4 Patience (Greek: makrothumia, Latin: longanimitas)
      5 Kindness (Greek: chrestotes, Latin: benignitas)
      6 Goodness (Greek: agathosune, Latin: bonitas)
      7 Faithfulness (Greek: pistis, Latin: fides)
      8 Gentleness (Greek: prautes, Latin: modestia)
      9 Self-control (Greek: egkrateia, Latin: continentia

      Only Christ himself really managed to display all of them.

  5. We tend to want to react – to punish ignorant people for the horrid results they help cause – what we need to do though is to relieve the ignorance – alleviate the arrogance and stop hatefulness – we need to help those who can not go it alone.

    1. And what should we do with those that have chosen ignorance? This is the 21rst century in case you didn’t notice. Those parents weren’t raised by talibans in an other country or lived in some out of reach from civilization lost tribe.

      The most dangerous creature on this planet is a human being that has decided to embrace ignorance.

      1. If you mean help gays and transgenders and other flavors of sexual orientation? Yes, I agree. As for the parents of those that committed suicide and are fully responsible then I could say sterilize them but it wouldn’t help. Hate and bigotry never came out of a dick, it came out of the brain to an other brain in the form of teachings. So, we could at least buy those parents a shovel and make them dig the grave of their kid and have them lower the casket in that hole all by themselves and then fill back that hole. Yes, I am that angry.

        1. @Dan:
          “As for the parents of those that committed suicide and are fully responsible then I could say sterilize them but it wouldn’t help.”

          Yes, that’s like preventing “‘after the fact [their deed].”

          .

          Yes, I am that angry.

          Don’t look now, but you’re channelling a milkboys “spirit” ….. what is it now? Oh, yes, …… it’s Lord Penboy.

          I just had to throw that in. :-)))

  6. “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 fucked up” and fix it. Fix society. Please.”

    ❦Well said Leelah, please do rest in peace because there are those who are listening.

  7. It is really worrying people casting judgements and abusive comments about human tragedies that are invariably complex.
    My experience of The Media is it never gives you the full story. I certainly would not expect Leelahs’ family to want give interviews to The Media.

  8. “I immediately told my mom, and she reacted extremely negatively, … that God doesn’t make mistakes, that I am wrong. … My mom started taking me to a therapist, 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. … Although the reaction from my friends was positive, my parents were pissed. 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. … After a summer of having almost no friends plus the weight of having to think about college, save money for moving out, keep my grades up, go to church each week and feel like shit because everyone there is against everything I live for, … ”

    That is a powerful letter — I couldn’t help but shed tears on how she described her family’s treatment of her (which was/is to be expected because of their religion — and don’t try to say *I* am the one who brought up religion).

    What is truly mind-boggling to me is that so many religious parents simply refuse to even attempt to understand their children if they even a little bit aren’t growing into their preferred capsulated view of how their child should be. And at the same time, they “embrace” the twisted notions of how “god and church” offer them an “open mind” about life and lives — but only as long as they believe in their ways.

  9. I just came across these links about Leelah (just a few if you want to read more):

    http://abcnews.go.com/US/leelah-alcorn-transgender-teens-reported-suicide-note-makes/story?id=27912326

    http://kfor.com/2014/12/31/ohio-transgender-teen-pleads-in-suicide-note-my-death-needs-to-mean-something/

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2014/12/31/leelah-alcorns-death-was-tragic-but-harassing-her-parents-is-not-the-answer/

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2014/12/30/transgender-teen-death-means-something/21059923/

    http://wgntv.com/2014/12/31/transgender-teen-pleads-in-suicide-note-my-death-needs-to-mean-something/

  10. A real tragedy.

    @Penboy:

    Thanks for the links, especially this one:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2014/12/31/leelah-alcorns-death-was-tragic-but-harassing-her-parents-is-not-the-answer/

    There are tons of people getting angry and going after the mother and family of Leelah online. I understand the anger many people go through when one reads such horrid news reports. It does appear her parents let her down by not supporting her, but let’s not forget a few things:

    The Alcorn family have not publicly responded to all the accusations being made, which means we’ve only heard one side of this story. I’m sure there are many other details and things that happened in the past we don’t know about. As in most news reports, I’m guessing there’s a lot of details that have been left out. It’s wrong to go after them as they’ve already been punished by their loss.

    1. For some strange reason I tend to believe a hell of a lot more Leelah words than her parents’. Why would she lie at that very last moment? In all honesty I don’t give a damn what her parents have to say.

      1. @ Old Dan:

        “Why would she lie at that very last moment? In all honesty I don’t give a damn what her parents have to say.”

        In no way did I say Leelah told lies, and in no way did I say her parents weren’t at fault. Please don’t try to put words in my mouth I never said. I totally believe Leelah felt the way she did. All I’m saying is neither you, nor I have any idea of how the dynamics of their family relationship.played out within the context of heated exchanges between family members. There is WAY more to this than what was published in the news.

        1. Sigh… I wasn’t trying to put words in your mouth, Daveboy. You did make a valid point but I refuse to side in any way what so ever for the parents. They made damn sure their kid would get only “godly” help. They made damn sure that the therapist they brought their kid to was on their side and not on the side of what is accepted in the medical establishment. The only time a kid is asked by a therapist if he or she is sure of who they are is usually before a sex change operation. It has been proven time and time again that to try to “change” a kid’s sexual orientation will always end damaging that kid. I’m basing this reply on what the kid said and like I said I trust that kid a hell of a lot more than what that her parents might have to say when it comes to transferring blame.

    2. I’m with Dan. I have known many transgender teens, and Leelah’s story is a common one. Given her parents’ blind beliefs, they’re not going to get the truth until they’re beaten over the head with it. Further proof that Christianity is unadulterated evil, if any was needed.

    3. @daveboy:
      “The Alcorn family have not publicly responded to all the accusations being made, which means we’ve only heard one side of this story. I’m sure there are many other details and things that happened in the past we don’t know about.”

      That’s a given. But really, daveboy, can you be any more politically correct in this (and thousands of other very similar) situation[s]?

      There are two undisputable facts:
      1) Leelah described her life as miserable under her parents because they simply refused to acknowledge her constant and growing personal anguish.

      2) Leelah is DEAD because of #1.

      As with Dan, I don’t give a shit what her parents think or “their side” (which is nothing more than stupid religion as I get from reading Leelah’s letter). The parents were concerned with nothing more than being “embarrassed” of Leelah’s behavior to their family and church members. The parents didn’t show the least bit of common sense to look “outside the box [or in their case, church]” for help for their child. They were so brainwashed that all they considered was to continue the brainwashing to their child and ask religious people for “advice” — which not one has/had the proper medical credentials to treat children for emotional and psycological problems such as this.

      It’s truly amazing how brainwashed parents won’t give the simplest consideration when their child rejects religion in any way — it usually starts out quietly and then progresses to outright detestation of that bullshit.

      Also, again, the truck driver is nearly as much a victim as Leelah (only still living, of course). Think about how a probably very good person and driver who is doing nothing but his job and now has to deal with the very real trauma of a minor putting him/herself in front of his truck and he can’t stop. And not just the psychological trauma, of course, but now the legal trauma of clearing his name and record from this undeserved involuntary manslaughter. And what about his family and employment?

      1. Sorry, I forgot this at the very top of my reply to daveboy:

        First, let’s not forget that there are two victims in this tragedy: Primary, of course, Leelah ….. and Secondary, the truck driver.

      2. @Penboy

        “”It’s truly amazing how brainwashed parents won’t give the simplest consideration when their child rejects religion in any way — it usually starts out quietly and then progresses to outright detestation of that bullshit.””

        Here’s an other way of looking at it. Grand, grand, grand parents, then grand, grand parents, then grand parents, then parents raised to believe in a certain ideology never questioning, never saying asking “what if”. Then a kid asks “WHY?” and “WHAT IF?”. The first reaction is utter and total panic from the parents. Why? Because from that moment on they must give a proper answer to satisfy their child’s curiosity. To do so, IF they are intellectually honest they must be prepared to question themselves and their beliefs knowing full well that their neighbourhood priest or preacher or shaman will frown upon them and threaten them to be outcasts. So. Now you know why there is a well worn path to obliviousness.

        1. Dan:
          “Here’s an other way of looking at it. Grand, grand, grand parents, then grand, grand parents, then grand parents, then parents raised to believe in a certain ideology never questioning, never saying asking “what if”.”

          Very true indeed. And I’ve stated as such and also eluded to that same “theory” months, even over a year, ago. I believe I said as much as this (just using different words) in that much earlier “Bravest Knight” thread. I stated it more like “How is it possible that my family and church members actually LIE to me about all this religious crap — I trust them and there are so many that “believe” [sic]. And, YES, they DO LIE even if that isn’t their “intentions” because all of them are just too damn lazy to exercise their natural curious modes and actually learn the TRUTH. (After all, if the pastor and my parents say so, it must be true, right?)

      3. Penboy is just spot on about the truck driver. One of my brothers is a railroad employee who witnessed a suicide from the front car –a man was crouched, waiting for the train to annihilate him. And it certainly did. The death was incredibly gruesome. I hope the truck driver is as strong as my brother and seeks counseling if he wishes. You make a Very Good Point, recognizing how horrible it is for a witness to such a thing.

  11. There is such a chasm between Leelah’s words and then, after the event, the words of her mother refusing to acknowledge her child’s sexuality and suicide.
    For her age, Leelah was highly articulate and must have been most likely correspondingly intelligent. She knew her own mind and situation leading to her despair. Plus, religious families within the USA have an unfortunate track record for this kind of tragedy.

    1. “Plus, religious families within the USA have an unfortunate track record for this kind of tragedy.”

      That’s an understatement.

  12. these stories just keep coming. make sure to thank your local reverend for all their work of love and holiness.

  13. LEELAH ALCORN DID not HAVE TO DIE!
    RONIN SHIMIZU DID not HAVE TO DIE!

    Anyone, ANYONE who is not politically / socially / internetally [?] active to STOP THESE INSANE ATROCITIES should give look into the mirror [NOT just AT it] and ask the question: “am I really a Human ? or merely a homo sapien…” … just sayin’

    Please SERIOUSLY consider donating to the GoFundMe project established to help TransFolk in painfully similar circumstances to Leelah… good cause, Karmic Bonus Round and all that… you could do a LOT worse with some of your Chanukah / Christmas / Solstice / Kwanza moneys… frankly.

    I would say “Thanks Josh”, but truth is [IMHO] this is likely the VERY LAST sorta thing that our illustrious webshepherd / Chief Milky wants to post.. EVER. AGAIN.

    Appreciated, then, Josh…

    PS – did I miss the post about Ronin Shimizu / 12.03.2014 ? dunno… still twitchy.er re: same

    LEELAH ALCORN DID not HAVE TO DIE!
    RONIN SHIMIZU DID not HAVE TO DIE!

  14. @Penboy

    When you quoted the following “”As for the parents of those that committed suicide and are fully responsible then I could say sterilize them but it wouldn’t help” I feel you quoted the less important part. What I feel was far far more important is the following.

    “”Hate and bigotry never came out of a dick, it came out of the brain to an other brain in the form of teachings.””

    Until that changes nothing will change.

    Side note.= I wanted to keep a list of names for 2014 of kids having been lost. I didn’t because I felt it was too depressing and I simply couldn’t handle the sadness that came with it. 2014 seemed to be relatively quiet unlike some other years that made it painfully obvious kids were dying then came the end of 2014 and in its wake to more kids. Things are NOT getting better.

    The biggest lie is saying that kids are the future. It’s an absolute and abject lie. We, the adults, are the future. We are the ones responsible for the kind of future kids will be living in…. or dying in. Kids are simply the ones that will be using the tools we will have forged for them. To think otherwise is deluding ourselves.

    1. Dan:
      When you quoted the following “As for the parents … sterilize them but it wouldn’t help”

      I pulled that quote and my response simply because it’s now “too late” for any sterilization because both of them have already done their “biological duty” (AND FAILED).

      .

      “We, the adults, are the future.”

      Well, no, the children are still the futurte …. we (adults) just shape the fututre through our offspring.

      1. Silly me …. misspelled a word …… should be:
        “Well, no, the children are still the future”

  15. Just saw “Bully”. It was on the Passionate Eye. There is this scene that ripped me apart.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1682181/

    Quoting from IMDB

    “”One of the saddest moments for me was when Alex’s mother just found out about the bullying and she told him that those kids weren’t his friends they were only there to pound on him each day. The heartbreaking response was when Alex said “well, if they aren’t my friends who are my friends” and she just stared at him.””

    In this case the parents are on the side of their kid. He was bullied simply because he was different, not even because of being gay, which he wasn’t. Just different.

    SO, here is a question. Where can a kid go when the parents themselves are bullies?

    1. “Alex said ‘well, if they aren’t my friends who are my friends’ and she just stared at him.”

      That’s really the heart of it, isn’t it? Every child is so desperate to feel wanted as a “friend” that he will tolerate just about anything just to “be a part of the group” — whichever group it is or is popular at that time and at that school and in that city.

      I think we really need to decipher what it is that starts a particular “clique” or group in schools and/or communities. Is it a particular hairstyle or cut? Or a particular type of clothing or method of wearing them? Or a particular way of “behavior” that a clique perceives as “their way” and all others as “different enough” to be mocked and/or shunned?

      .

      “SO, here is a question. Where can a kid go when the parents themselves are bullies?”

      Good question. Hopefully most communities (at least today, anyway) have a serious abuse hotline or place in the community where a child can go “anonymously” to release his deeply held (and by now, probably erupting) feelings. I know most large cities have someplace and a hotline that supposed to remain anonymous. But, I don’t know (and quite frankly, trust) our southern “bible belt” locations because it’s too common for a hotline receiver or abuse helper to be “neighbors” and “church friends” and they have their own “guilt feeling” about reporting someone (parent) they may know personally.

      1. @Penboy

        “”I think we really need to decipher what it is that starts a particular “clique” or group in schools and/or communities. Is it a particular hairstyle or cut? Or a particular type of clothing or method of wearing them? Or a particular way of “behavior” that a clique perceives as “their way” and all others as “different enough” to be mocked and/or shunned?””

        None of the above. You can find bullies in every types of schools. Those with uniforms and those without. Long haired or military cut, still the same. Using those details are simply trying(?) to excuse the actions of bullies. It really does come down to what I mentioned in an other post. That brain to brain in the form of teachings.

        By the way, I stand by what I said about the adults really being the future. Look at how kids and even young adults write. One of the first things I had on my grammar class desk was a dictionary. We even learned how to use it. Yup. How to use a dictionary 101. Today? I’ve stopped years ago counting the typos we see in news papers and on the web. Even that running banner on CNN has tons of typos. The most recent was in big letters “Ju suis Charlie” instead of “Je suis Charlie.” You would think that CNN could at least get that one right but no.

        The teachers that came after the ones I had changed from good to bad. From teachers that cared about creating a future to teacher that worked only for a paycheck and the kids be damned. Those teachers are also that approved of zero tolerance, the biggest social con game ever done upon kids.

        First grade kid misbehaves? He’s sent to the school principle. Wrong. Now they call the cops and drag that kid away in cuffs. Kid A throws a punch on kid B because A thinks B is a fag? Both kids are punished. Get that damn movie “Bully” and you will see what I mean. Now the right thing to do is blame the victim. We the adults create the future. We are the ones that forge the tools those kids will have to use. We are supposed to forge their minds. I guess we are using broken anvils.

  16. It breaks my heart reading this sad news. We are all so precious and lovable and we must always keep this truth firmly in our minds. Much love to each one of you, dear friends xxxx

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