I’m sure by now most people have heard the appalling, tragic and incredibly upsetting news of 17 year old, Ohio student Leelah Alcorn’s suicide.
Leelah was a male-to-female transgender woman, and yesterday (30th January 2014) a suicide note was posted to her Tumblr detailing the trauma of her life, her unaccepting parents, friends and how she was forced away from friends and into, what sounds like, conversion therapy. Either way it is atrocious and inhumane. All this eventually led to her taking her life.
What is even worse, is that Leelah’s mother, Carla Wood Alcorn, posted a status to Facebook saying her ‘son’ had been killed ‘by accident’. Even after this woman’s actions caused her child to take their own life she continues to misgender her. That is unacceptable.
Leelah felt alone, she felt hopeless, and she felt certain that she would “never be happy”. Too many people, too many teenagers, too many LGBT+ teenagers and far too many trans* teenagers feel this way. This awful event has touched the internet and people from all around the world. I myself have cried and send Carla Wood Alcorn a message on Facebook. I have tweeted and shared posts, I have signed this petition to try and outlaw transgender conversion therapy.
“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.”
What is so incredibly horrible is that Leelah got to this level of pain. I have been there, but I’ve been lucky enough to come back from it. Leelah didn’t have that luxury. She felt alone. And only now, when it is too late, has it become clear just how many people out in the world could have been there for her. She did not deserve the life she had, she did not deserve that pain and that torture, and she did not deserve to die.
In her suicide note, Leelah says she wants all her money and possessions (and money from selling them) to go to LGBT+ and trans* charities. But no doubt with who her parents are, this won’t happen. So please take a moment now to donate anything you can to an appropriate charity such as TransOhio , Trans Lifeline or the Kaleidoscope Youth Centre.
It is also likely that Leelah’s grave will not be marked/named correctly. So when talking about her remember to use the correct pronouns and name. If you can do absolutely anything then just raise awareness. Do not let people forget about this, maybe then Leelah’s parents will accept the hand they had in their daughter’s death and will realise that they must respect her now. It is too late to fix the damage, but maybe if we all speak up we can prevent this from happening yet again.
Leelah had so much life ahead of her. From just what I’ve seen on her Tumblr she was incredibly talented at art, she was kind and sweet and more importantly she was a real person. Do not let the screen fool you – this is a real child who died. Because of prejudice and because of her parents and people around her.
“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.”
I am beyond sad. I am beyond outraged. And I didn’t even know this girl until tonight. But Leelah, you are so incredibly loved and I am so, so sorry that we could not help you. And that people who had the chance to did not. I hope in death you have found the peace and acceptance that you could not find here. You are beautiful and will always be remembered.
We will not forget.
Leelah Alcorn, may you Rest In Peace.