Leelah Alcorn’s Last Words, Ctd

Andrew Sullivan —  Jan 2 2015 @ 11:12am

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A reader notes that Leelah was also posting on Reddit – here and here. Another continues to question the conventional narrative:

Yes, it’s a tragedy that she didn’t feel accepted by her parents and had to endure Christianist “therapy.” That said, her decision to step in front of a truck was a terrible and selfish one. I’m sure being transgendered is hard, particularly if you have to deal with bigoted parents. But when I read her postings I hear a typically – I dare say even beyond typically – self-centered 16 year old. No matter how just her grievances, she chose the worst and most selfish way to get satisfaction.

We know that glorifying suicide can bring a rash of copycats. There was no glory in anything she did. Millions of people in this world have suffered worse but didn’t ruin a stranger’s life by forcing him or her to be the instrument of her death. If it were my blog, I’d ignore this particular story and instead focus on a more mature example of responding to transgender intolerance.

The Dish has actually covered the subject of trans children and teens pretty extensively, including posts such as When Is A Kid Truly Transgender?, Transgender Six Year OldsThe Father Of A Transgender 10 Year OldPuberty On HoldIntegrating Trans Kids, The Youtubes Of Trans Teens, and Transgender In A Small Town. And we had a long thread here on “pink boys” who dress and behave like typical girls but who are not transgender or gay. Another reader:

Why are all gender non-conforming kids being actively encouraged to transition or to take puberty-blocking drugs?

Maybe in a subset of the community this is advisable, but check out the trans reddit forum or any online trans forum and you’ll see adult transwomen actively encouraging kids in their early teens to get on hormones (as if they didn’t have enough raging through them) in preparation for transitioning. Sure, there may be some truly gender disphoric kids who need help, but all you have to do is “question” on one of these forums and you’re encouraged to pursue medical intervention.

Sorry, but WTF?  We’re relying on children – and Josh/Leelah was absolutely still a child – to self-assess?  I would have liked to have been a pretty girl when I was 13 or 14, but I ended up a perfectly happy adult gay male.  Yeah, I get that it was harder for me, but I can’t imagine as a confused kid of that age being told I was trans and that “I’d never be a pretty woman” unless I started transitioning before puberty.  Why isn’t anyone calling the trans community out on this gross misogyny?  What’s wrong with fem gay guys and butch dykes?  What’s wrong with ugly women?

Update from a reader:

I am touched by the story of Leelah’s suicide, but more, I am spurred to react to the person who pointed out the selfishness of Leelah’s suicide. Suicide is ALWAYS a “selfish” act in our society. The fact that Leelah added to the selfishness by involving another person is beyond the point. She was desperate, hopeless, driven to the ultimate act of self-destruction by the self-centeredness of everyone around her who scorned/condemned/renounced her. Her parents and the world wanted her to conform to a very narrow parameter of Acceptability, and she couldn’t be what they insisted she be.

How many people, not just transgendered, feel the same despair at being different? How many suicides are caused by society’s lack of compassion, or harsh judgement about the way we think or feel, or who we are or what we need? Look at any media page and the comments to see how readily people flock to the snark, the vilification, towards any who might opine something outside the box people seem to want to put everyone in. It is amazing to me, especially given the “Christian Nation” we’re so often told we are.

I say let’s start pushing to be interested in what makes us different, and how that makes us wonderful. And, like your reader who wants to discuss Race vs. IQ, let’s have conversations that don’t immediately devolve into finger-pointing and rude comments about how “oh, you’re one the Them!”. As to the “selfishness” of Leelah, let us forgive a 16 year old her thoughtlessness and, instead, focus on what drove her to do what she did. Let’s look at our own selfishness, too.

Read the long Dish thread on suicide here.