A 17-year-old transgender teenage girl in Ohio has died by what appears to have been suicide, leaving behind a Tumblr note that blames her parents for not accepting her gender identity, isolating her, and forcing her to attend faith-based therapy. "There's no winning," the note reads, in part. "There's no way out."
Leelah Alcorn, born Joshua Ryan Alcorn, was walking along Interstate 71 when she was hit and killed by a semi-truck around 2:30 a.m. on the morning of Sunday, December 28. The local news accounts refer to Alcorn as male, but she blogged frequently on a Tumblr called "Lazer Princess" about living as a trans teen. Judging by the Tumblr, she was a fan of Sailor Moon, feminism, and stockings with cats on them; she regularly re-blogged inspirational photos of trans adults.
It's also where she published a post titled "Suicide Note," which she had pre-scheduled before her death. From the beginning of the note:
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.
Alcorn apparently believed she'd never be able to transition successfully. She concludes:
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.
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On Facebook, Alcorn's mother has written, "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." The message has been shared repeatedly by people who are upset that she is misgendering her child.
This is gut-wrenching, and it was avoidable. On Twitter, trans activists are mourning Leelah:
The Trevor Project operates a 24-7 confidential hotline for LGBT youth. If you're in crisis or feeling suicidal, please call 1-866-488-7386, chat with them online here, or text them here.
Other Cincinnati-area resources:
GLSEN Greater Cincinnati Youth Group — meets weekly, for LGBTQ and Ally middle and high school age youth.glsencincinnati.org / facebook.com/ggcyg / 866.934.9119 For GLSEN resources nationally, glsen.org.
Heartland Trans* Wellness: TeenSpace and Cincinnati Trans* Community Group — transwellness.org
Image via Lazer Princess/Tumblr