Leelah Alcorn (And Why it Has Taken Me So Long To Comment)

…not that the world was waiting with baited breath for old Tam-Tam to step up to the soapbox or anything. The sad truth is that Trans related issues, especially depressing ones, seem to be a massive turn off to the general population, and anything I say will be preaching to a very small choir. I doubt my opinions and feelings will change the hearts of anyone, but I must purge and so purge I shall.

For those who have been living under a rock this past couple of weeks (and since Christmas and New Year can be a stressful time for anyone, who would blame you), Leelah Alcorn was a teenage Transwoman in the US, whose devoutly religious parents thought faith-based re-programming and the power of prayer were more important than the needs of their daughter. Leelah stepped out into traffic in an act of self destruction because she could not bear the torture of Gender Dysphoria. She left a suicide note on her blog, which has since been deleted (but copies will be popping up everywhere) by her parents, who refuse, even in death, to honour Leelah’s gender identity and chosen name. Leelah’s funeral has been postponed for security reasons, as there has been a lot of hostility towards the parents who drove her to this act.

Amid the outpouring of grief from the Trans community and its allies, I stood cold. Hell, I even ignored most of the articles that were popping up on my Facebook and twitter feeds. Why? Because the story was so close to home for me.

Not the devoutly religious parents aspect (mine are mostly secular, and utterly supportive), but being a teenager and battling with gender dysphoria in an environment so hostile to such a concept, and I feel like such a coward. Had I been stronger as a person when I was a teenager I would have either stood up and said to the world ‘I will do this even if you hate me’, or I would have opted out of the world altogether like Leelah sadly did. Instead I hid myself away for another decade, losing ten years of a life I could have had and watching it slip away. It was like being the one who sits quietly in the corner at a party and watches everyone else have fun. Do I admire Leelah for her suicide? No, but I admire her for her words in the hopes that the world could be made that little bit better for all of us by the awareness her death would bring.

Who is to blame? That is what everything comes down to in our society, blame.

IF Leelah’s parents weren’t so devout in their religious beliefs, would Leelah still be alive? Probably.

IF they had let Leelah transition with their consent, would she still be alive today? Probably.

IF the branch of the religion they followed were actively inclusive of Trans people, would Leelah still be alive today? Probably.

IF the laws were such that people could give legal consent for gender transition at an earlier age, would Leelah still be alive today. Probably.

IF Leelah had access through her school to LGBT support services, would she still be alive today? Possibly.

IF the media’s portrayal of Trans people was more positive and less a scandalous, freak show, would Leelah still be alive? In truth I think A LOT of Trans people would still be alive if this were the case.

The ultimate responsibility of Leelah’s death, of course lies within her decision to take her own life, and I feel for the person who was driving the vehicle that she stepped out in front of. I know from having contemplated suicide and been on the verge many times, that the tunnel vision that precedes such an act can blind you to the feelings of others, or the consequences of your actions. It is hard to explain to somebody that has not been there (quite literally) on the edge, exactly how those feelings manifest; how the vision narrows, and time ceases to pass while the rest of the world falls away and there is nothing but the inviting serenity of oblivion in front of you. The vision narrows ever further and time grows ever slower until something snaps you out of it …or doesn’t. There is no self, or no other… not unless you come back from the brink.

But the responsibility for the circumstances that caused Leelah such despair lies with her parents and those around her that pushed a religious agenda upon someone whose nature made them incompatible with such archaic and narrow interpretations on the world. When you try and hammer a square peg into a round hole, you’re going to break the hole. Leelah had no other sources of tangible support, and so one must conclude something that I have been saying for years.

IF your religion insists you put your devotion to it above your devotion to your children, then fuck your religion, and fuck you for following it. Governments and local authorities, not just in the US but all over the world, need to stop putting religious sensibilities before the actual welfare of those who have no place in a bronze age morality. The right to worship freely should NOT extend to the neglect of the vulnerable, or the dictation of someone’s value as a human being in law. Organised religion has had it’s time, and it is done. It is not worthy of a world of natural diversity, or of the beauty of diversity’s infinite combinations, it only seeks to impose it’s values so it may survive at any cost.

It wasn’t religion that put men on the moon, invented vaccines, built steam engines, harnessed electricity. Throughout history, organised religion has been at the forefront of the retardation of progress and advancement. How can something that makes you reject your own children to their deaths be anything but wicked? It must change at its core, or it must die.

Leelah will become a beacon for the Trans community. Her face will be everywhere, her words on posters and T-shirts. Trans hookers show up dead all the time and the public don’t care, but here’s a baby; an innocent, pure in beauty and spirit. In the eyes of Trans activists she is now a martyr for the cause of Trans recognition and equality; a rallying point for us to take our stand and say ‘no more’! Her life will no doubt be told in film, in yet another Oscar-bait piece about how we are all ultimately victims, and her mother and father will live the rest of their lives in the shadow and torment of the daughter they drove to her death.

I hope they both live a very long time.


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Filed under LGBT, Politics, Transgender, Transsexual

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