It’s tragic when someone dies.
It’s even more devastating when that death is a suicide.
When that act is committed by a young person, all of that is compounded exponentially.
Leelah Alcorn was a teenager who identified as transgender, who was transgender. Unfortunately, her religious, specifically Christian, family could not accept this. In their horror, they decided that their son who felt he was really a daughter should not accept this either.
That’s the thing about Christianity, if you don’t conform you are condemned. It is seen by Christians to be a righteous act to “save” someone by changing his or her nature to prevent condemnation.
This is how Leelah’s family reacted, by subjecting their child to religious based counseling. All they wound up doing is confirming that this type of therapy does not work. They broke their own child’s mind, and heart, and sense of life. Leelah decided to preserve what was left of herself by prematurely ending her life in order to avert more torture.
Many will judge Leelah for this, but no one has a place to do so. No one really knows for sure that things could have gotten better for her, so no one can say that she should have held on to such an unconfirmed potentiality.
The real regret is that Leelah is not alone. Many young people will suffer the same fate, but with much less awareness. Leelah’s desperate wish was that her death would mean something, and I’m attempting to do my part by sharing my sadness at her loss.
I didn’t know her personally, but I have felt similar pain. I am fortunate to find acceptance for being gay where she did not for being transgender, but I always feared that I wouldn’t either. In some ways, I still don’t have true acceptance, but those of us who are different have to take what we can get, because some of us, like Leelah, don’t get any.
I wish to extend with my words through this blog all the sympathy that I can to those like Leelah, living or otherwise, who are transgendered, gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer, or just different in any way that is especially challenging. It does not get better for everyone, as long as people like Leelah’s parents wreak their ignorant havok upon the innocent.
It is true that there are some who have come through the pain to see better days, but that is not a promise made that is always kept by fate. We still have a long way to go, and when we lose friends on the way, we have to remember that we fight for their equality as well as our own.
Image by pixel–speechbubbles on Tumblr.