The parents of Leelah Alcorn, a transgender teen who identified as female and who committed suicide on Sunday, are speaking out, and in statements ignoring Leelah’s gender identity, say they loved their “son.”
In an interview on Wednesday with CNN, Carla Alcorn referred to Leelah as her son and, and in an email statement to WCPO-TV in Cincinnati, Doug Alcorn referred to Leelah by her birth name Joshua. Both parents repeatedly used male pronouns when referring to Leelah.
Carla Alcorn said that when Leelah first approached her and her husband with her desire to transition, they responded that they would not tolerate it.
“We don’t support that, religiously. 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,” said Carla Alcorn.
“He was an amazing musician and artist. He was an amazing boy.”
Carla Alcorn said that Leelah was depressed and “quit talking about [being transgender]” after being taken to counselors and receiving medication from a psychiatrist. She said she only became aware of the name “Leelah” when she read the suicide note.
On Thursday, in a separate statement to WCPO-TV, Doug Alcorn said he also loved his child and that he wishes the family could grieve without public scrutiny.
“We love our son, Joshua, very much and are devastated by his death,” he said. “We have no desire to enter into a political storm or debate with people who did not know him. We wish to grieve in private. We harbor no ill will towards anyone… I simply do not wish our words to be used against us.”
Carla Alcorn told CNN there has been no service for Leelah yet due to the threat of protests her family have received.
NBC News reported that Leelah’s wake and funeral service will be held at the Northeast Church of Christ in Cincinnati. said in an email that he could not comment. “Our focus right now is to help a family broken by tragedy to grieve and heal,” Tim Tripp of Northeast Church of Christ said.
Since Leelah’s death, more than 200,000 people have signed a Change.org petition calling for a national ban on transgender reparative therapy, while nearly 70,000 have signed a separate petition calling on her parents to use Leelah’s preferred name on her headstone.
LGBT rights advocates have planned a number of memorials and candlelight vigils in Leelah’s honor: Columbus, OH; Kings Mill, OH; Kent, OH; Cincinnati, OH; Glendale, AZ; Columbia, SC; Charlottesville, VA; Baton Rouge, LA; Winnipeg; Vancouver; and London.
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.