When Leelah Alcorn committed suicide, she had already set events in motion that would tell the world why she did it. Rather than a paper suicide note that might be found only by her parents, she set up a Tumblr message that would publish after her death.
“If you are reading this, it means that I have committed suicide and obviously failed to delete this post from my queue.”
Leelah’s note went on to describe a life that she decided “isn’t worth living in.” Her struggle as a transgender person in a religious household had brought her to a tragic conclusion.
“I’m never going to be happy. Either I live the rest of my life as a lonely man who wishes he were a woman or I live my life as a lonelier woman who hates herself. There’s no winning. There’s no way out. I’m sad enough already, I don’t need my life to get any worse. People say “it gets better” but that isn’t true in my case. It gets worse. Each day I get worse.”
Leelah’s parents deleted her Tumblr account, but nothing ever really goes away on the Internet.
Leelah described her home life as miserable, saying that her parents opposed her self-identification as female based on their religious affiliation.
“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.”
Leelah’s mother told CNN a different story. Carla Alcorn said that her son Josh — Leelah’s birth name — was depressed and was being treated with medication.
“He just quit talking about (being transgender),” she said. She also said that she had never heard the name “Leelah” used by her son.
But Tumblr is not the only place that Leelah spoke about her ordeal. Her archived Reddit posts tell a story of living in a home where her parents were 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, fuck 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 spoke of being sent to what is known as conversion therapy, an attempt to try to “cure” gay and transgender people.
“I wanted to see a gender therapist but they wouldn’t let me, they thought it would corrupt my mind. 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.”
Since Leelah’s suicide, a petition has been started seeking to ban conversion therapy. The statements accompany the petition read:
“We the petitioners call upon the President of the United States, Barack Obama, and the Leadership of the House and Senate to immediately seek a pathway for banning the practice known as ‘transgender conversion therapy’. We ask that you name the bill in memory of Leelah as the Leelah’s Alcorn Law and protect the lives of transgender youth.”
So far, the petition has 286,000 supporters.