Transgender teen commits suicide. My thoughts.

Before I begin this post, I just want to make it clear that I’ll be making no attempts to interject my usual brand of humour. Given the circumstances of what I’m about to discuss, it would hardly be appropriate to joke around right now, and I’d prefer to be as respectful as possible.

I’m just after reading a story about a biological male by the name of Joshua, who identified as a female by the name of Leelah who recently took their life (out of respect for this person’s feelings, I won’t say “his life”, but at the same time based on my own beliefs, I don’t feel comfortable saying “her life” either, hence why I’m choosing the gender neutral pronoun instead).

The story can be read about here.

141231-leelah-alcorn-02_9e0383802b14a5e8dbf0b7c8ea21a5ce.nbcnews-fp-1200-800.jpg
Joshua “Leelah” Alcorn

Like any suicide, this is undoubtedly a tragedy, and my thoughts go out to the friends and family who they left behind and I’m sure are devastated right now. However, I think it’s important that we don’t allow our emotional response to this tragedy to cloud our judgement on matters, and try to maintain rationality as much as possible.

Many people claim that they know from early childhood that their brain doesn’t match their body and that they struggle for years trying to come to terms with who they are. Joshua/Leelah was no exception to this, and claimed that they they had been confused about their gender since at least the age of four. When they finally found out about transgenders, it was a feeling of relief for them because they finally felt that they understood who they were (btw, I apologise if using “them”, “they” and “their” for a single individual is confusing. I’ll explain the reason why I’m doing so later).

Unfortunately for them, their parents were not the most understanding of people (to say the least). They were conservative Christians, with conservative Christian values. As far as they were concerned, their child just had to accept who they were, because that was the way God wanted it. Eventually after several years of severe depression and without the love and support to get through it, they committed suicide a few days ago. Before doing so, they left a not online to explain why, which can be found here

I’m just going to go through a few parts of the note and give my response to it.

Please don’t be sad, it’s for the better. The life I would’ve lived isn’t worth living in… because I’m transgender. I could go into detail explaining why I feel that way, but this note is probably going to be lengthy enough as it is. To put it simply, I feel like a girl trapped in a boy’s body, and I’ve felt that way ever since I was 4. I never knew there was a word for that feeling, nor was it possible for a boy to become a girl, so I never told anyone and I just continued to do traditionally “boyish” things to try to fit in.

I think it’s awful that you felt this way. I really don’t envy what you went through.

When I was 14, I learned what transgender meant and cried of happiness. After 10 years of confusion I finally understood who I was. 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.

I might cause offence here (none intended I assure you) but while I disagree with how the mother handled the situation (I think it was terribly harsh and unnecessarily hurtful), I am of the belief that a true sex change is biologically impossible (at least with our current understanding of medicine). The way I see it at present, a male can’t be made into a female. Performing surgery on their genitalia and pumping them full of the opposite sexes hormones is just going to turn them into a feminised male with irreparably mutilated genitalia. I’m not saying this to be bigoted. I’m not saying this to be hurtful. I’m just saying that if we’re supposed to believe that a trans-female is as much a female as someone born that way, then the burden of proof is on those who say it is possible, not on those who believe it isn’t. That’s just how burden of proof under the scientific method works.

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.

I agree, I think a child needs to feel loved and supported in a situation like this. There has to be a gentler way to deal with it, even if you don’t feel comfortable with it.

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.

I do think therapy is the right approach, but obviously, competent therapists who want to help, rather than judge. This clearly didn’t happen in this case.

So they took me out of public school, took away my laptop and phone, and forbid me of getting on any sort of social media, completely isolating me from my friends. This was probably the part of my life when I was the most depressed, and I’m surprised I didn’t kill myself. I was completely alone for 5 months. No friends, no support, no love. Just my parent’s disappointment and the cruelty of loneliness.

A really stupid move on their part. I can’t even begin to imagine how horrible this must have felt.

At the end of the school year, my parents finally came around and gave me my phone and let me back on social media. I was excited, I finally had my friends back. They were extremely excited to see me and talk to me, but only at first. Eventually they realized they didn’t actually give a shit about me, and I felt even lonelier than I did before. The only friends I thought I had only liked me because they saw me five times a week.

And this… I really feel bad for you. I actually can’t find the words to describe the sympathy I feel.

I’m never going to find a man who loves me.

Now this is just something that confuses me. I mean absolutely no offence again, but I think it needs to be said. As a heterosexual male, the idea of being with a trans-female is as off-putting as being in a homosexual relationship and I’d imagine that most heterosexual males would agree. As for homosexuals, I’d assume that it would be as off-putting as being in a heterosexual relationship with a woman. Basically, what I’m saying is, I think a straight man would want a biological woman, and a gay man would want to be with another man. I don’t know what man would be able to love a trans-female. I’m not trying to be insulting, but, I’d just imagine that such a man would be very difficult to find and I think if finding love is that important, you’d be better off living as a gay man, rather than a trans-woman. But then again, it’s really about what’s more important to you.

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.

I do think you deserve to be treated with human dignity and respect, but personally at the same time, I agree with Dr. Paul R. McHugh (as I’ve already discussed), that transgenderism is a mental illness and should be treated as such until we understand it better. I think scientific analysis trumps emotions on important issues like this. It’s just a shame that you didn’t get the help and support you needed and deserved.

Gender needs to be taught about in schools, the earlier the better.

I disagree with this part completely. As I said before, we should be helping to raise these people up to the comfort level of everyone else, rather than dragging everyone else down. As I’ve mentioned, we still don’t know what causes transgenderism. For all we know, it could be due to environmental stimuli. I know many people say that your just born that way (an emotion based argument with zero scientific evidence), but then these same people contradict themselves by then saying gender is a social construct. So which is it? Are you born with your gender, or is it a social construct? But I digress. The point I wanted to make is this. The vast majority of kids seem to be perfectly attuned to their biological sex. I see no reason to confuse every other child who is comfortable with who they are, in order to cater to the small minority who aren’t. If transgenderism is caused by environmental stimuli, then doesn’t it stand to reason that confusing children about gender, could cause more of them to become transgender themselves? Sounds like nonsense, but it’s not any less credible that saying people are just born that way, without any proof.

Anyway, I’ve said a lot on this topic, so I’ll just sign off here.

Rest in Peace Joshua (AKA Leelah) Alcorn. I hope you’ve found the peace and comfort that you sorely needed.

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