In the early morning hours of December 28th, Leelah Alcorn was hit by a tractor-trailer while walking along a stretch of Interstate 71 near Kings Mills, Ohio. The death was ruled a suicide after a post appeared posthumously on her Tumblr blog. It was a suicide note but more than that, it was a plea. A plea that her death matter. The note revealed that while Leelah (legal name, Josh) came out to her parents at age 14, their reaction was less than comforting. The Alcorns took their child to therapists but only therapists who extrapolated Christian values, when Leelah came out at school, her parents took her out of school and took away access to the outside world. You can read the full suicide note here. Leelah's plea for a more educated and tolerable society shouldn't fall on deaf ears.
We've told lesbian, bi, gay and trans people for the last few years that it gets better--that everything they had to fight for when they were younger stops when they hit adulthood and that people become more accepting and maybe for Leelah it would've become better but without support from her parents, it would've been a lot more difficult. Years of parental disappointment and loneliness is hard to come back from and enough was enough.
Based on news outlets that I have read, as with any story, there are two sides. Carla said that Leelah only came to her a few times about being transgender, never heard her use the name 'Leelah' and that while she denied Leelah from starting transitioning it was because it was too expensive. We may never know how often Leelah's parents told her "I love you" after she came out at age 14 but if you have a child, it is your responsibility to love them unconditionally and from Leelah's suicide note and a CNN interview with Carla, Leelah's parents did not love her unconditionally. Their love came with a condition--that Leelah be a good Christian boy. It's great that she loved her son, but she allowed her supposedly loving and caring religion from loving her daughter.
In her suicide note, Leelah said that she wanted her death to mean something. I hope we don't let her down.
The Trevor Project operates a 24/7 confidential hotline for LGBTQ+ youth. If you are in crisis or feeling suicidal, please call 1-866-488-7386, chat with them online here, or text them here.
Until next time, I remain...