Views & Voices

Uninformed religious leaders are guilty of causing Leelah Alcorn’s pain, desperation, rejection, and death

Leelah Alcorn

Leelah Alcorn

Leelah Alcorn

Leelah Alcorn

Leelah Alcorn, a 17-year-old transgender teen, stepped in front of truck on an Ohio interstate just after 2 a.m. on Sunday morning, leaving behind two notes that auto-posted to her blog after her death in which she described the root of her despondency.

From the age of four, Leelah had sensed she was a girl trapped in a boy’s body. At 14, she finally identified a name for it — transgender. She shared her “cries of happiness” at this discovery with her mother who “reacted extremely negatively.”

Under the encouragement of their church, Kings Mill Baptist Church in Kings Mill, Ohio, Carla and Doug Alcorn took their transgender child to a Christian therapist — not for depression, but to stem their child’s “gender confusion.”

One need only read the public comments online to sense the outrage from many members of the LGBT community and their supporters.

Doug and Carla Alcorn, parents of three other children, are being severely criticized for rejecting their child’s transgender condition. Their neglect is seen as a major contributory factor of her suicide.


The Alcorns, along with tens of thousands of other parents of LGBT children, though not innocent, are products of a toxic blend of ignorance about human sexuality and gender identity, ideology, and tainted theology prevalent in conservative Christian communities.

When you live in isolated and dogmatic evangelical and Baptists communities, it is likely that your default dogma will mirror such views.

The Alcorns too, are victims of the poisonous and ill-informed teachings from their religious leadership.

I place culpability and thus, guilt, on Christian and conservative leaders who, over the past four decades, have constructed an extreme intensity of cultural and religious discrimination against the LGBT community.

With marriage equality becoming a reality, a new generation of religious zealots has increasingly leveled their intolerance against the transgender community. They have taught the Alcorns what to believe and what to think about their own child.

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