Transgender teen commits suicide

By Sydney Dauphinais, Staff Writer

Many people are pleased to enjoy their holiday season with their families, sharing love with the people who support them the most. For 17 year old Leelah Alcorn, she wasn’t blessed with this support. The transgendered teen committed suicide this December 28th because of her Christian parents refusing to accept her.

Leelah Alcorn, born Joshua Ryan Alcorn, lived with her family a few miles outside of Cincinnati in a suburb called Lebanon. She was walking along the side of the road before deliberately jumping in front of a semi-truck on I-71. Her suicide note was published just hours later on her Tumblr account, explaining the reasons behind her choice.

When Alcorn was 14, she learned what transgender meant and felt overwhelming relief. “I cried of happiness,” she said.

But the feeling of relief didn’t last long.

“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. 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,” Alcorn states in her suicide note.

Her parents’ views on Christian conversion therapy are quite controversial and haven’t settled well with supporters of LGBT rights. Carla and Don Alcorn have been greatly criticized by the general public for not accepting the fact that their child was transgendered, referring to her by her given name, and refusing to let her get gender reassignment surgery.

“We don’t support that, religiously,” Carla Alcorn explains. “But we told him that we loved him unconditionally. We loved him no matter what. I loved my son. People need to know that I loved him. He was a good kid, a good boy.”

When Leelah Alcorn told her parents that she was transgendered, they punished her by isolating her from her friends and taking away her social media privileges.

Leelah Alcorn’s suicide has received international attention, and the hashtag #LeelahAlcorn was created in support of anyone labeled as gender-dysphoric. Celebrities and LGBT activists have been speaking out to bring awareness to the situation and support LGBT rights.

According to a 2011 study for the National Center for Transgender Equality found that 41% of 6,450 responding transgender and gender nonconforming people had attempted suicide. Leelah Alcorn wrote in her suicide note that she wanted this disturbing statistic to be fixed.

“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.” Alcorn stated in her suicide note. “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 f***** up’ and fix it. Fix society. Please.”

The Transgender Human Rights Institute started a petition on to honor her wishes, and called it “Enact Leelah’s Law.” Leelah’s Law would be a law to ban conversion therapy, and the petition has over 300,000 signatures. The next step is approval from the federal government.

Leelah Alcorn’s message is as heart-wrenching as it is important. Not only did it help to open the eyes of people across the country about the hardships that transgendered people face, but it also showed the great importance of both acceptance and equality.