The Suicide of Leelah Alcorn

Leelah Alcorn is no martyr, icon or hero but that doesn’t make this death any less of a needless tragedy. On December 28th the depressed suicidal teenager went through with their plans to end their life by stepping out in front of a truck driver who hit and killed the 17 year old. Tumblr then auto published the suicide note that sent the internet’s SJW a buzz which was then published and again and again by a slew of irresponsible journalist.  There is a good reason not to propagate suicide letters as it’s know to cause idolization of suicidal behavior, and the belief that suicide is a valid way to be heard. It isn’t.

I will reference this excellent piece by Sarah Ditum

I also want to express that Leelah Alcorn, was a male person and a homosexual. It was after Leelah came out as gay that The Alcorns reportedly pulled their child out of public school and took away access to social media. While stating that Leelah was a gay male child (instead of pretending this was a heterosexual girl.) seems to be controversial it is a matter of biology and sexual orientation, and it’s a factual statement.  Another factual statement would be that Leelah came from a conservative Christian household that didn’t accept that their child was gay. This isn’t uncommon for even moderate or liberal Christians, and further more it doesn’t make the parents terrible people. My own parents are proof that people come around, it doesn’t happen overnight and it generally isn’t going to happen at 17. I hope anyone reading this that finds themselves in a corner like Leelah found themselves in heed these three words. Wait it Out.

Like most parents the Alcorns DID show concern for their child’s depression by taking them to doctors and counselors, whom were reported to be Christian and biased. The media would have you believe that Leelah revealed they were a transgirl and suddenly they were pulled out of school, isolated in a room and sent straight to conversion therapy. Conversion therapy is a very specific and cruel practice, but this wasn’t the case. I can’t validate the claim that Christian counseling sessions are conversion therapy. In fact Leelah never said that they went to “Conversion” therapy, they stated they were sent to Christian counselors who had a bias. But still, even though I believe the Alcorns should have been more accepting people in this case, I have no doubts they love their child and were trying to do the right thing.

The media outrage was focused on the parents, who’s social media accounts have been bombarded with hate mail, death threats ect. As well as other outlets headed by trans activist publishing the personal information of the parents to incite abuse against them. The parents can’t even hold a proper memorial for their deceased due to threatened protest.  Who else does that? Oh yeah, Westboro Baptist Church.

Parents of GLBT kids make mistakes, in fact those mistakes are part of growing up for most of us. It can make our lives as GLBT people really hard as children and young adults, sometimes, In what I would hope to be the rarer cases, those parents never come around, but at 17 you will never know.

This situation reminds me of a TV film I saw awhile back and I want to link to that.

The parents of this child could easily be another Mary Griffith. But if you act like Westboro Church (and heads up GLBT peeps, YOU ARE.) I don’t see that changing any hearts.

Go forth with love.

4 thoughts on “The Suicide of Leelah Alcorn

  1. “Conversion therapy is a very specific and cruel practice … ”

    Yes, it is very cruel and unnatural for gay and lesbian teens to be forced into therapy to make them heterosexual. But, as you said, we don’t know if this is the kind of therapy Joshua, who was being treated for depression, was getting. He certainly didn’t call it conversion therapy in his tumblr post; he simply called it “biased,” which could mean many things. It’s the abusive mob, led by people like Dan Savage, ganging up on the parents, particularly the mother, who are calling what Joshua went through “conversion therapy.” With no evidence at all that this was the case.

    While we can be fairly certain that a Christian therapist would have a bias against homosexuality, we can’t assume that this was even the primary focus of his treatment for his depression, and we don’t even know whether Joshua identified himself, to his counsellors, as a gay male, or as a “woman trapped in a man’s body.” We just don’t know.

    That being said, I would not condemn any parents or therapists if the goal of the treatment was to help a confused teen accept, and make peace, with his or her biological sex as an objective reality. An objective reality that cannot be changed via wishful thinking or strong feelings to the contrary. I say this as a completely non-religious person, and as a feminist, so this is in no way a defence of religion, particularly authoritarian and patriarchal religious beliefs.

    A child or teen who believes in a metaphysical sex, beyond the essential facts of their own (sexed) bodies, is in a severe mental and emotional crisis! So, therapy which aims — gently and empathetically, and hopefully, without the use of shame or religious doctrine — to correct errors in thinking and logic is, in my opinion, good therapy. It is NOT unethical to help a teen understand that rigid conformity to sex-roles is the problem, not their bodies — it is, in fact, highly ethical and compassionate to use this approach. This kind of therapy would also help encourage full self-acceptance of non-heterosexual sexual orientations in teens and adults.

    I have the strong sense that many liberals won’t, or can’t, admit that while they would (or do) fully support their gay and lesbian children, they would strongly and instinctively oppose their own children transitioning to the other sex. First, they know “sex change” is not possible, and that it makes no sense. But, they also know that medical transitioning is a physically harmful practice. They KNOW, despite their commitment to political correctness and fighting for oppressed minorities, that a “misalignment” of body and mind is pure nonsense and not comparable at all to a preference for same-sex partners. And, they probably suspect that the “T” is a very questionable addition to the “LGB.”

  2. Thanks for your thoughtful article. I agree that threatening people and sending them hate mail is unlikely to have any positive impact, and it is not okay. On the other hand, I do have some concerns about likening those actions to Westboro’s, though they look alike on the outside. Westboro Church does those things because they believe that “God hates fags”. People reacting in this extremely intense way to this suicide probably do that because reading the suicide note and the parents’ first statement triggered a trauma response in their brains, reminding them of very difficult experiences they have had with their own parents or other people. As I said, violence is never okay, but I do have compassion for survivors of violence who at certain moments don’t have access to anything else but rage following an intense trigger, and I don’t see it as the same as picketing funerals of soldiers because you believe that allowing gay soldiers in the military will lead to war and to natural disasters.

    Wishing peace to everybody, to the grieving parents and to people in pain about news like that. May we find ways to create a world in which everybody’s needs matter.

  3. The death of Joshua Alcorn is an all-around tragedy. His own loss of life, his heartbreakingly desperate decision made in the throes of depression, his siblings, family, friends, and the truck driver who killed him. So much loss and trauma. No teenager before has ever blamed all of his problems on his parents’ refusal to see/do things his way before, right?

    Joshua Alcorn was a teenager going through a lot of very difficult things in addition to the harshness that adolescence brings. To blame his suicide on his self-reporting on his parents is wrongheaded.

    I wonder if anorexics should get unconditional support and belief from their families, friends and loved ones that yes, it is true they are overweight, or becoming overweight, and their fear of gaining weight is legitimate and worthy of support and it is their choice to have the anorexic lifestyle. Many blogs share information about how anorexia is a lifestyle choice. Medical and psychological intervention for underage anorexics should be outlawed or at least taken over by state or federal monitoring since the medical / psychological intervention causes anorexics severe psychological distress and anxiety. They self-identify as overweight yet others are telling them they are not. Who and what right does the medical community,or parents have to interfere with this lifestyle which anorexic teenagers know is right for them and will make them happy? If they self-identify and self-report on their biological state, why should they not be believed and supported as well?

    Anorexia results in death. Depression and anxiety often co-exist with it. It is a slow suicide, and extreme form of of-denial. Sometimes people die. They don’t get better despite best efforts of parents, family, friends and the medical community.

    Gender dysphoria apparently has depression and anxiety co-existing with it. Nobody seems to be saying it is not an actual condition. The issue is what is the cause and how it should be treated? Physically or psychologically or both? And how? For children, parents make the decision for medical treatment. It is neglect to fail to give medically necessary treatment to children. But if a daughter “needs” breast enhancement, or breast removal (of healthy breasts) and parents refuse to oblige, and she kills herself, are those parents responsible for her death?

    The transgender lobby has a one-size-fits-all solution, hormone therapy and surgery for children as soon as they self-express the need for this. But the Internet tells anecdotal tales of transgender people who have had hormone therapy and surgery who commit suicide, transition back, then commit suicide, or transition back and work towards educating others.

    The strident voices spewing hate towards Joshua Alcorn’s parents know only what they know: They have a one-size-fits-all agenda for children with gender dysphoria. Facts have nothing to do with it.

  4. Thank you for your considerate article. Kind to the teen, kind to the parents and reminding people that disagreeing with someone or feeling they failed is not an acceptable reason to protest a funeral. No need to go all Westbro bro.

    Thank you very much.

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