I don’t know why but I keep waking up to terrible news.
This morning, I saw Leelah Alcorn’s name going up and down my timeline. Being the nosy negro I am, I went searching and got my heart broken. For those that don’t know, Leelah committed suicide a few days ago and hours after her death, a scheduled Tumblr post containing her suicide letter surfaced.
She was only 16-years-old.
In her letter, Leelah described feeling like “a girl trapped in a boy’s body” since she was a preschooler and didn’t know what that feeling was until she learned what transgender meant a decade later. She came out to her religious parents and sadly, they reacted the way no parent should react to their child coming out.
From Leelah’s Tumblr:
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.
Judging from the rest of the letter, it didn’t get any better and Leelah didn’t think it would even if she got a chance to transition. Her mother made matters worse by posting the following Facebook message that not only misgendered her daughter but made her death seem like some freak accident.
Compared to many, I’ve been understanding when it comes to religious people and their beliefs about queerness and transness. I rolled with the idea that they’re entitled to their opinion so I’ll leave them alone. Until this year, I left it at that but now? No. I refuse to let people to continue to use religion as a cop-out for bigotry. Leelah isn’t the first to die and certainly won’t be the last unless we do something about it. Entitlement to bigotry is how conversion therapy and programs like the one Leelah was subjected to have been able to allow queer and trans people to suffer for decades. One of the biggest conversion therapy organizations, Exodus International, was instrumental in the creation of Uganda’s anti-gay laws that makes queerness and transness offenses worthy of the death penalty. I’m sure the Duggars thought they were entitled to their opinion when matriarch Michelle lent her voice to robocalls intended to build opposition against a law that would make it safer to be trans in Arkansas.
Point is, this is more serious than an opinion. People are dying and suffering behind these opinions. These opinions are evolving into laws that could affect my life and the lives of my friends, family and countless LGBTQ* people across the planet. So, if someone spouts bigotry in my presence and tries to use the opinion cop-out, I’m lighting into their ass and you should too. Bigots, keep your foolishness to yourself.
Leelah, you haven’t died in vain and I will try my hardest to make sure you rest.
“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.”
The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.