“My Death Needs to Mean Something” — Leelah Alcorn

The heartbreaking suicide of Leelah Acorn is making a storm in the news and in social media.  A small sample of articles:

#BBCtrending: Leelah Alcorn’s public suicide note from BBC:

So starts a suicide note written by Leelah Alcorn, a 17-year-old transgender teenager who died this week in the US state of Ohio. Alcorn scheduled the note to be published several hours after her death.

An Ohio transgender teen’s suicide, a mother’s anguish from CNN (emphasis mine):

“We don’t support that, religiously,” Alcorn’s mother told CNN Wednesday, her voice breaking. “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.”

Transgender teen: ‘My death needs to mean something’ from Cincinnati.com:

In life, Leelah Alcorn felt alone. Born male, she feared she would never be the woman she felt like inside.

In death, the transgender 17-year-old – born Josh Alcorn – wanted to make sure others never felt the way she did.

Leelah’s own suicide note* on Tumblr is here.

The Daily Edge from Ireland has an article — Transgender people are sharing stories of hope following teenager’s tragic death.

Here is what Rachel tweeted on Twitter.

The Williams Institute:

The Williams Institute is dedicated to conducting rigorous, independent research on sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy. A national think tank at UCLA Law, the Williams Institute produces high-quality research with real-world relevance and disseminates it to judges, legislators, policymakers, media and the public.

From the Williams Institute, Suicide Attempts Among Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Adults (emphasis mine):

New analysis of responses to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey (NTDS) shows that transgender respondents who experienced rejection by family and friends, discrimination, victimization, or violence have a higher risk of attempting suicide. 78 percent of survey respondents who suffered physical or sexual violence at school reported suicide attempts, as did 65 percent of respondents who experienced violence at work.

The study suggests that several minority stressors – negative experiences related to anti-transgender bias – may contribute to elevated prevalence of suicide attempts among transgender people, such as experiences of harassment, family rejection, housing instability, and discrimination in health care. Over half of those who experienced harassment or bullying in schools reported lifetime suicide attempts, as did 57 percent of those who reported that their family chose not to speak/spend time with them.  High prevalence of suicide attempts was also found among those who had ever experienced homelessness (69%) and those who reported a doctor or healthcare provider refused to treat them (60%).

From the LA Times, Transgender study looks at ‘exceptionally high’ suicide-attempt rate (emphasis mine):

A whopping 41% of people who are transgender or gender-nonconforming have attempted suicide sometime in their lives, nearly nine times the national average, according to a sweeping survey released three years ago.

In a new study released Tuesday, researchers dug deeper into that number, analyzing the results of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey to examine what puts transgender people at such “exceptionally high” risk.

[…]

Nearly two-thirds of respondents who were the victims of domestic violence at the hands of a family member had attempted suicide, the study also showed. Suicide attempts were less common among transgender and gender-nonconforming people who said their family ties had remained strong after they came out.

Suicide.org lists the causes of suicide.  You will not see being transgendered listed as a cause of suicide or even mentioned.  What you will see is a lot of the stressors that transgender people experience.  Being transgendered is not a mental illness, any more than being gay was a mental illness.  And truth be told, a lot of what gets labeled as “mental illness” is the cumulative affect of these various life stressors manifested in various ways.  How many times can any person be victimized or vilified and not lose hope?

This is a personal issue for me, and not just because I am transgendered.  If you go back and read my old but candid posts about my suicide attempts, you will see that every single one of them were related to bullying or abuse I received — by my school mates, by my mother, by my partners, and the last one, directly related to physical violence that was perpetrated against me by my own wife.

Wake up people (and parents and family especially) — this tired old world needs more beautiful people…

*It would appear that Leelah’s suicide note has been removed from Tumblr.  I don’t know why, but sorry for the broken link.

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Dog Dharma is written by a human who loves dogs and who believes dogs have attained enlightenment. The human behind Dog Dharma came from humble origins, has faced many trials, enjoyed many adventures, and taken a path less traveled. He claims no special privilege or expertise, and remains humble. Dog Dharma‘s author has learned a few things along the way, and has much yet to learn. He has been told by many people that he has a talent for writing, and aspires to write a book, but is a little too lazy and disorganized, so his blog will suffice for now. He opens a window into his life in the hope that some of his words may be of comfort, some may be a beacon or warning, and perhaps he will connect with like-minded souls. Everything shared comes from a place of openness and honesty, but with no claim that he possesses the Truth. People and places mentioned should be taken as pseudonyms. In many cases, details may be an amalgamation of actual events disguised to protect the “innocent.” Nothing written is to be taken as actual fact, but as the author of Dharma Dog‘s limited understanding. From the mouths of the Beatles: In the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make
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4 Responses to “My Death Needs to Mean Something” — Leelah Alcorn

  1. mandy says:

    I read Leah’s suicide note yesterday and really felt a lot of anger at her family. And even more when I saw the story on the news last night and the report that the mother posted on FB that her son had gone for a walk and got hit by a truck and killed. (Maybe that’s in one of your above reports.) I about flipped my lid. At what point will it matter to them? This is just another casualty of religious beliefs and people sacrificing their children in the name of –God? Can’t imaging a God who condones this behavior. I’m sorry for Leah, and all transgender people. And I’m sorry for how poorly you’ve been treated for being you, Terry. Much Love. ♥

    Like

    • DogDharma says:

      Mandy, what made me saddest is how Leelah’s mother kept referring to her as “him,” and “her son.” I feel for the mother’s loss, but one day she’s going to wake up to a whole different heartache when it dawns on her. I won’t paint *all* spiritual people with one brush — things are changing slowly. See my last post, which was a re-blog: https://dogdharma.wordpress.com/2014/12/28/lgbtq-children-in-catholic-families-a-deacons-view-of-holy-family-sunday/

      Also sad to say, but I think Leelah’s suicide *is* going to make a difference. It’s getting worldwide coverage, and sparking dialogue (and outrage). I know it’s complicated, but is love and respect that hard to understand?

      Thanks for your ❤ and support, and back atcha!

      Liked by 1 person

      • mandy says:

        Oh dear, I messed up the spelling of her name! (I’m sorry Leelah ♥) I know, I should NOT stereotype all religions. I’m sorry she had to give her life to get this kind of widespread attention.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. DogDharma says:

    Me, too… With a little support, everything could have been so much different for her. 😦

    And typos and misspellings, no worries… I was commenting somewhere on someone’s blog and I made a typo, so I went back to apologize for the typo, but when I did, I apologized for the “type.” Either the brain is out of gear or the fingers are out of gear, and if I only knew how to get them in sync. 🙂

    Like

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