Leelah Alcorn sought support on the internet in the weeks before her suicide, with the transgender teen sharing her concerns about her parents trying to send her to gay conversion therapy.
Leelah took her life on December 28, leaving a lengthy suicide note on Tumblr detailing the anguish she felt over her gender identity and her parents’ lack of support. Leelah, born Joshua Alcorn, identified as a female but said her conservative parents refused to accept it.
In the days after her death, more details emerged about the heartache Leelah Alcorn felt over her situation. Leelah posted on Reddit in an effort to get support and find a way to connect with her parents.
“Ever since I was around 4 or 5 I knew I was a girl, just like most of the lovely ladies on here, but I didn’t actually understand that it was possible to successfully change genders until I was 14. As soon as I found out what transgender meant, I came out to my mom. 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, and it felt awful.She then proceeded to tell my Dad without my consent, and they were both extremely angry with me. They never physically hurt me, but they always talked to me in a very derogatory tone. They would say things like ‘You’ll never be a real girl’ or ‘What’re you going to do, f**k boys?’ or ‘God’s going to send you straight to hell.’ These all made me feel awful about myself, I was christian at the time so I thought that God hated me and that I didn’t deserve to be alive. I cut myself at least once every couple days, and I was constantly thinking about suicide.
“Leelah Alcorn said she wanted to see a gender therapist, but her parents would not let her because ‘they thought it would corrupt my mind.’”
Instead, they tried to send her to a gay conversion therapist, Alcorn wrote:
“The would only let me see biased Christian therapists, who instead of listening to my feelings would try to change me into a straight male who loved God, and I would cry after every session because I felt like it was hopeless and there was no way I would ever become a girl.”
Alcorn said she eventually lied to the therapist and said she was straight, but her anguish continued. In late December she made a decision to end her life, and stepped in front of a truck during a walk.
Even after the death of Leelah Alcorn, her parents have continued to generate controversy. In a message about her death, Leelah’s father continued to refer to her as Joshua and said they are “devastated by his death.”