An Ohio teen who self-identified as transgender committed suicide by stepping in front of a semi truck left a suicide note on Tumblr that blamed her Christian parents for her death — for denying her identity and her desire to transition from male to female. Since her death, the suicide note has gone viral, disclosing a troubled life of confused self-awareness, feelings of being misunderstood and unaccepted, and, most unfortunate of all, a maddening, unfixable loneliness.
The Inquisitr reported Dec. 30 that Leelah Acorn wrote in the Tumblr post — under the pseudonym lazerprincess — prior to her suicide that the only reason anyone would read her suicide note would be in the event that she had succeeded in ending her life and wouldn’t be able to erase it. She was correct. The 17-year-old left her home in Kings Mill, Ohio, early Sunday morning and jumped in front of a passing semi truck on I-71.
But Leelah wanted her death to mean something, she said in the note (via Rolling Stone): “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 f**ked up’ and fix it. Fix society. Please.” The suicide note was signed “(Leelah) Alcorn,” the birth name of Josh having been struck through.
Leelah Alcorn was born Josh Alcorn but always had trouble doing boyish things, she confided in the note. So she grew up confused. “When I was 14, I learned what transgender meant and cried of happiness. After 10 years of confusion I finally understood who I was,” she wrote. “I immediately told my mom and she reacted extremely negatively, telling me that is was a phase, that I would never truly be a girl, that God doesn’t make mistakes, that I am wrong.”
Leelah went on to urge other parents not to react the way she said her parents had. “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.”
According to Leelah, she was sent to therapists who told her she was “selfish and wrong.” Her parents refused to allow her to transition, but she eventually came out as gay to her friends at school. Although their reaction was positive and supportive, her parents, she said, were angered, taking her stance as a form of public embarrassment, an attack to their Christian image.
Leelah wrote in her suicide note: “They wanted me to be their prefect little straight Christian boy, and that’s obviously not what I wanted. On my 16th birthday, when I didn’t receive consent from my parents to start transitioning, I cried myself to sleep.”
She was then subjected to a form of home imprisonment, she claims. Her parents took her out of public school, took away her cellphone and laptop, and forbade her to use social media. She felt isolated, especially from her friends.
“This was probably the part of my life when I was the most depressed,” Leelah wrote, “and I’m surprised I didn’t kill myself. I was completely alone for five months. No friends, no support, no love. Just my parent’s disappointment and the cruelty of loneliness. At the end of the school year, my parents finally came around and gave me my phone and let me back on social media. I was excited, I finally had my friends back. They were extremely excited to see me and talk to me, but only at first. Eventually, they realized they didn’t actually give a sh*t about me, and I felt even lonelier than I did before. The only friends I thought I had only liked me because they saw me five times a week.”
Leelah wrote that after a summer of working and saving money for college, trying to make money to move out on her own, working hard at school to keep her grades up, and going to church with people who she believed were aligned against who she was as a person, she said she had had enough. “I’m never going to transition successfully, even when I move out,” she confided. “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. 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.”
The note was set for a timed release, as was a follow-up note. In the latter, she apologized to her siblings and told them she loved them. For her parents, she simply wrote, “F**k you. You just can’t control other people like that.”
Leelah Alcorn’s heartbreaking suicide note highlights a life of confusion and perceived familial and social non-acceptance, one not uncommon to persons of the LGBT community. Cincinnati.com reports that a 2010 study undertaken by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force reported that 41 percent of the 7,000 transgender people surveyed had attempted suicide at some point in their lives.
It should be noted that those 7,000 transgender people were alive to take the survey. It is unknown how many people from the LGBT community have taken their own lives, given that the historical lack of acceptance of gays, bisexuals, and transgender people precludes many from admitting their gender publicly. But given that nearly half of those surveyed had attempted suicide, the number is likely rather high.
Leelah Alcorn’s note on Tumblr has gone viral. Where she didn’t feel as if she was being listened to in life, she has certainly gained an audience in death. Within 48 hours, the Tumblr suicide note had garnered over 82,000 views. The hashtag #LeelahAlcorn was atop Twitter all Tuesday. The teen’s story went international.
Sadly, at the same time, her parents — at least her mother — remain in denial of Leelah’s gender. In a post to Facebook, which has since been taken down (per Cincinnati.com), she wrote about her “son” and how “he” had died. She also refused to acknowledge that the death was a suicide.
For those experiencing thoughts of suicide, gender doubts and confusion or know someone who is, the Trevor Project exists to lend a sympathetic ear. The organization can be contacted by phone at (866) 488-7386. It can also be accessed online.