Sunday, January 11, 2015


A week and a half or so ago, I read about Leelah Alcorn (warning: link contains her birth name for no good reason), a teenage trans girl from Ohio who had just committed suicide. Just before she did so, she had posted a Tumblr note (which has since been deleted??!!) in which she explained that her parents' systematic denial of support in the name of Christianity had led her to conclude she would never be able to transition successfully or be happy. They told her "God doesn't make mistakes" and brought her to "conversion" therapy. They took away her access to technology and outside support. She was made to feel so isolated and alone that she could see no future for herself, no way out.

I only started coming out as trans to my family in the last couple of years, and I'm a grown adult with strong community supports and a number of tools for taking care of myself. Plenty of family members have been great, and some are vocal about their acceptance of and even pride in me. But I've also heard things similar to what Leelah described before taking her own life: that I am delusional, wrong, and couldn't possibly know who I am or what to do about it. This from those who claim to know what Jesus would do.

There are plenty of statistics out there showing that trans and gender-nonconforming people attempt suicide at alarming rates. Studies attribute these attempts to experiencing greater physical and sexual violenceincluding institutional violence and healthcare discriminationand homelessness. This study also cites family rejection as a "minority stressor" (57% who reported family rejection had attempted suicide).

Whatever excuses we are using as a culture to not care for trans people, to treat them as less than human, we need to stop. Whether it's religion, medicine, psychology, politicswhatever we're hiding behind, it's killing people. In her final blog post, Leelah pleaded with us to "fix society," or she will not be able to rest in peace. So get your shit together, people, or Leelah Alcorn's ghost will be at your fucking door!

Poem to Fix Society

If I were to pray,
I would pray for plowshares
To spring up where you brandish swords.

I would pray for my siblings everywhere,
Told that they're sick and broken
Until they break themselves open.

I would pray for no more
Prayers as weapons.

I would pray for no more
Scapegoats, no more
Sacrificial lambs.

But I don't pray anymore.
The rebel cast out cannot commune.

"Jesus was a rebel," you used to say.
Who would Jesus damn?

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