The incredible amount of pain, hopelessness, confusion, rejection and despair that must have been a constant companion to Leelah Alcorn breaks my heart. To arrive at the decision that your life no longer merits living, that death must indeed be preferable is one that I (luckily) cannot fathom; but that I sadly recognize is the reality of so very many… of our young.
In case you have been too wrapped up in holiday noise to have heard, Leelah Alcorn (erroneously born, Joshua Alcorn), committed suicide by walking into traffic one week ago today. SHE was seventeen. For many (as it should), this has resonated and incited much heated debate; not with regard to whether this could have been prevented (we all know it could have), but indeed is anyone to be held responsible – because it should have been prevented.
In the suicide note that Leelah left, she spoke about the negative response and rejection “coming out” elicited from her (supposedly) Christian parents and their attempts to fix her. Subsequent to her death, her mother issued a statement declaring her love for her son. Sigh. As if walking into traffic did not tell us most of what we needed to know about this young lady’s reality, her mother’s continued rejection of her reality, her truth, certainly did!
Let’s Address This. The truth is, whether we would like to open our minds and hearts to it, the reality is that for so many, their sense of identity, the one that they were assigned at the time of their birth, is without any doubt to them, wrong. The fact that we are born with either a vagina or a penis and, because of this our sex is determined, does not always make it the correct identity for us. Supposed correlating body parts do not necessarily make you that gender -any more than being in a garage makes you a vehicle!
Sadly, too often those of us who profess to have all the damn answers and are sitting on our sanctimonious asses proud of the fact that our dicks and vaginas match our behaviors, are allowed to voice our destructive opinions to those that most need patience, understanding, kindness, support and care. The very last thing a person questioning or resolute in their knowledge that they have indeed been “born in the wrong body” needs, is the influential voice of the uneducated and judgmental! When are we going to learn? How many more of the people we profess to love need to die before we acknowledge that the weapons selected to kill may seemingly absolve us from responsibility, but that we are surely behind the decisions to do so?
Listen, I am a parent and I promise you that there could be many things that can cause me to be disappointed in and angry with my daughter; but, there will never be anything that she could ever do or be that will cause me to reject her! Understand that I am speaking from first-hand knowledge that one of the most debilitating experiences and lessons in a child’s life is living the reality that you are un-liked, unloved, unsupported or misunderstood by a parent. As children (no matter the age, really), we naturally gravitate toward our parents as the first source of love and support; so, when either the recipient of acceptance or rejection, an invaluable lesson is learned and never forgotten.
Leelah Alcorn’s parents have been vocal about their position with regard to her (but to them, their son’s) confusion. Their rejection of the reality that he identified as a she is well documented. There is much I can say about my opinion of this and most of it will be as negative and destructive as theirs has been. So, I will simply say this (publicly): I truly hope that the God they profess to serve forgives them for their ignorance. I pray that their God someday meets my God, because I daresay, mine is infinitely more benevolent! The God I serve will never advocate my judgment of others; He kinda has that under control Himself! Idiots!
But, this is where for me they leave this story; because quite frankly, aside from the enormous amount of culpability that I ascribe to them in this young lady’s death, I hesitate to have the focus deviate from the truly important aspects surrounding this very troubling reality. Unfortunately, most human beings seem to only learn from experiences; we seem to be unable to logically think through certain situations and foresee the potential outcomes. So given that, like Leelah, I too mirror the sentiment that her death eventually “means something”.
I truly hope that we take this devastating reality and learn from it. I hope that from this and any other recounting of suicide, bullying, homicide and overall persecution of those in our LGBT communities, we begin to educate ourselves to not only the plight suffered by being different or apart from, but certainly the responsibility we all have, if we do not have anything good to say, to simply shut the fuck up!