Leelah Alcorn, born Joshua Alcorn, committed suicide on Sunday, December 28. The 17-year-old left a suicide note on her Tumblr page, set to be published in the event of her death. In the note, she claims that she suffered from depression and blames her parents’ lack of support and understanding of her gender identity. Now, Alcorn’s family has finally opened up about Leelah’s death. After several attempts to contact the family, Leelah’s father Doug sent an email to WCRPO with the subject line, “Joshua Alcorn and your visit this morning.”
Doug Alcorn wrote, “We love our son, Joshua, very much and are devastated by his death. 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.”
The email was sent a day after Leelah’s mother, Carla, spoke to CNN about the matter.
“We don’t support that, religiously,” Carla said regarding her daughter coming out as transgender. “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.”
The family’s decision to keep referring to Leelah with her birth name and opting to use male pronouns has drawn criticism from people, especially those from the LGBTQ community, who have shown their support by spreading the word about the problems that transgender teens like Leelah face.
Some of Leelah’s friends have also talked to the press following her death. Her childhood friend, Chris Davis, told WCPO-TV that while her family didn’t support her, Leelah was accepted among her friends. “One day he finally posted on Facebook, ‘Hey, I’m coming out. This is me. This is who I am,'” Davis said. “Everybody was like, ‘Yeah man, this is great.’ He came to school and everyone gave him massive support.”
Davis added, “I hate the fact he lived in a home that didn’t support him.” Another friend, Jimmy Bustetter, told reporters that Leelah made everything clear on her suicide note. “I think he said what he needed to say in his note, how he really felt,” Bustetter said.
In the note, Alcorn said that she wants her death to mean something to the transgender rights movement.
Leelah wrote, “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.”
Since Leelah’s suicide, there has been an outpouring of tweets condemning her parents.
— Parker Marie Molloy (@ParkerMolloy) January 1, 2015
— Dan Savage (@fakedansavage) January 1, 2015
Still so upset over #LeelahAlcorn‘s death. Her death is one of many, caused by families refusing to accept & love their kids no matter what.
If your child comes to you and tells you he/she is lesbian, gay, bi, or trans, the correct response is I Love You!!!!!! #LeelahAlcorn
— Sarcasmic (@Sarcasmicfiend) January 2, 2015
— Leanne Woodfull (@LeanneWoodfull) January 2, 2015