News (USA)

Transgender teen struck and killed on Ohio interstate in apparent suicide

Transgender teen struck and killed on Ohio interstate in apparent suicide
Leelah Alcorn
Leelah Alcorn

Updated: Thursday, Jan. 1, 2015, 1:00 p.m. EST

UNION TOWNSHIP, Ohio — A 17-year-old transgender teen was struck and killed by a passing semi trailer on an Ohio interstate on Sunday, and a previously written suicide note later appeared on the teen’s Tumblr blog through scheduled publishing.

Leelah Alcorn was in the roadway when she was struck, and is believed to have walked 3-4 miles from her parents house in nearby Kings Mill, Ohio.

Police say she died at 2:20 a.m. Sunday.

The incident is being investigated by the Ohio State Highway Patrol, but hours after Leelah’s death a suicide note appeared on her Tumblr blog.

In the note, Leelah said she identified as a transgender female from age 14, when she first became aware of the term, having felt “like a girl trapped in a boy’s body” since she was four.

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Leelah said she subsequently came out online, and turned primarily towards the internet for friendship. She said she attempted to convince her parents that she had to medically transition, but claims she instead received therapy and “biased” counseling from Christian therapists:

Leelah also describes coming out as gay at age 16, hoping it would be a stepping stone to coming out as transgender at a later date. She wrote that she was instead taken out of school by her parents and cut off from the outside world for five months as her parents denied her access to her laptop, social media and phone.

She described this as a contributing factor towards her suicide. Read Leelah’s suicide note

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Leelah’s suicide note, which appeared on her Tumblr blog through scheduled publishing a few hours after her death:

SUICIDE NOTE

If you are reading this, it means that I have committed suicide and obviously failed to delete this post from my queue.

Please don’t be sad, it’s for the better. The life I would’ve lived isn’t worth living in… because I’m transgender. I could go into detail explaining why I feel that way, but this note is probably going to be lengthy enough as it is. To put it simply, I feel like a girl trapped in a boy’s body, and I’ve felt that way ever since I was 4. I never knew there was a word for that feeling, nor was it possible for a boy to become a girl, so I never told anyone and I just continued to do traditionally “boyish” things to try to fit in.

When I was 14, I learned what transgender meant and cried of happiness. After 10 years of confusion I finally understood who I was. 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. If you are reading this, parents, please don’t tell this to your kids. 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.

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.

When I was 16 I realized that my parents would never come around, and that I would have to wait until I was 18 to start any sort of transitioning treatment, which absolutely broke my heart. The longer you wait, the harder it is to transition. I felt hopeless, that I was just going to look like a man in drag for the rest of my life. On my 16th birthday, when I didn’t receive consent from my parents to start transitioning, I cried myself to sleep.

I formed a sort of a “fuck you” attitude towards my parents and came out as gay at school, thinking that maybe if I eased into coming out as trans it would be less of a shock. Although the reaction from my friends was positive, my parents were pissed. They felt like I was attacking their image, and that I was an embarrassment to them. They wanted me to be their perfect little straight christian boy, and that’s obviously not what I wanted.

So they took me out of public school, took away my laptop and phone, and forbid me of getting on any sort of social media, completely isolating me from my friends. This was probably the part of my life when I was the most depressed, and I’m surprised I didn’t kill myself. I was completely alone for 5 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 shit 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.

After a summer of having almost no friends plus the weight of having to think about college, save money for moving out, keep my grades up, go to church each week and feel like shit because everyone there is against everything I live for, I have decided I’ve had enough. I’m never going to transition successfully, even when I move out. 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. Either I live the rest of my life as a lonely man who wishes he were a woman or I live my life as a lonelier woman who hates herself. There’s no winning. 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.

That’s the gist of it, that’s why I feel like killing myself. Sorry if that’s not a good enough reason for you, it’s good enough for me. As for my will, I want 100% of the things that I legally own to be sold and the money (plus my money in the bank) to be given to trans civil rights movements and support groups, I don’t give a shit which one. 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 fucked up” and fix it. Fix society. Please.

Goodbye,

(Leelah) Josh Alcorn

In a second post, Leelah expressed apologies to her sisters and brother. Read that note here

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In a second post, Leelah expressed apologies to her sisters (Amanda and Tiffany), brother (Justin), and a couple of friends:

SORRY

And now for my sorry notes to some people I knew…

Amanda: You are going to have such a wonderful life. You are the most talented and pretty little girl I’ve ever met and I love you so much, Amanda. Please don’t be sad. I’m going to miss you so very much. I love you.

Tiffany: We haven’t talked much recently since we’re both so busy but I’m so happy you’re my sister. You are so courageous and determined to achieve what you want, you can accomplish anything. I love you.

Justin: We’ve been jerks to each other a lot recently but I really do love you. You get on my nerves almost all the time but no matter what a part of me will always love you. Sorry for picking on you so much when we were kids.

Rylan: I’m so sorry I’m never there for you. I love you so much.

Abby: Thank you for dealing with my pathetic problems, all I did was make your life harder and I’m sorry.

Mom and Dad: Fuck you. You can’t just control other people like that. That’s messed up.

I don’t really feel the need to apologize to anyone else… odds are you didn’t give a shit about me and if you do, you did something that made me feel like shit and you don’t deserve an apology.

Also, anyone who says something like “I wish I got to know him better” or “I wish I treated him better” gets a punch in the nose.

After her death, Leelah’s mother was harshly criticized for referring to her child by her birth name and for using male pronouns in a message posted on Facebook.

carla-wood-alcorn

Members of the LGBT community and their allies have begun organizing memorials and candlelight vigils for Leelah. One such event, #StandUp4Leelah, is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday in Columbus, Ohio. Another event is planned at Leelah’s former school, Kings High School, at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Update:

On Wednesday, Leelah’s parents spoke to CNN and said that when Leelah first voiced a desire to live as a girl, they wouldn’t stand for that.

“We don’t support that, religiously,” Carla Alcorn said. “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.”


Editor’s Note: If you or a young person you know is LGBT and thinking about suicide, please call The Trevor Lifeline at 1-866-488-7386, or the Trans Lifeline at 1-877-565-8860. For adults over 24, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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