Leelah Alcorn’s Last Words, Ctd

Andrew Sullivan —  Jan 1 2015 @ 3:22pm

Readers react to the suicide note:

The death of Leelah Alcorn is a tragedy.  However, what about the poor driver of the vehicle that killed her? That person is now stuck with the guilt associated with killing someone.  Alcorn may well have been mistreated by family, but committing suicide by foisting it onto an innocent party is not something that should be overlooked. This callous action should be condemned by everyone.

Another:

This has been making the rounds and I check every day for news about the parents’ reactions. I’m not very proud of my own feelings about this.

I want to be angry at parents, to see that they’ve changed their minds and that they have regrets. I want to see that Leelah’s death has shocked them into seeing reality and repentance. What I really want is a morality play.

What an ungenerous and small-minded attitude on my part. Losing a child is an unimaginable horror. Add to this loss the fact that the child has blamed you, perhaps correctly. Add even more that the issue is something you can’t get your mind around; that you’ve spent a lifetime striving toward something you sincerely believe is right and good and that tells you that what your child was telling you couldn’t be true and was even evil. Obviously, too, there was sadly a tremendous amount of fear and shame at work inside these parents.

I guess I’m just left with the sense of what a tragedy this was and is for Leelah and her family, and what an incredibly human story.

Activists are going to get on their soapboxes, and the blogosphere and Twitter are going to light up with condemnation – more grievance politics and demonization of the other and dehumanization of the commentators in this ultimately redeemed human fuckuppery we live in. And maybe that should happen if things are going to change. I do hope Leelah’s death makes a difference, but not at the cost of more suffering for the Alcorns.

Another reader:

The Leelah Alcorn story is so incredibly sad. There have been many great responses to it, especially the #reallivetransadult hashtag and accompanying stories. But what I worry about a bit is that a lot of what I’ve seen kind of misses Leelah’s point, about transitioning early.  It also lets her parents off the hook with the idea that if she had just persevered, then things would have gotten better later on, even if they were being jerks to her.

But being transgender is different from being gay in important ways, especially re: what a tumblr_nh42atfkcv1tddhzxo1_500body does post-puberty.  A gay kid can grow into a gay adult and be very happy with the body that develops naturally. For a transgender kid, often once certain things have happened, there is no going back. While most pictures of Leelah show her posing in that black and white dress (or a similar feminine pose), there are other pictures that show that she had become strong-jawed and broad-shouldered (included); those are physical characteristics that can be kept from developing, but once they’re there, they’re there.

So “it gets better” encourages a wait-and-see approach when for many of these kids; they are going to be stuck with a body they profoundly don’t want unless some active intervention begins fairly early. I do get that this is an incredibly difficult decision for parents, and I wouldn’t wish that decision on anyone.  It’s not something I personally have experienced, but I’ve watched a friend of mine deal with this with her young daughter, who knew she was a girl from very very early on.  My friend has handled it stupendously well, and it’s been a real education for me to observe the process.