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