Friday, January 02, 2015

An Open Letter to Carla Alcorn

Dear Carla Alcorn,

First off, let me say how sorry I am that your child, Leelah, your daughter, died last week. It broke my heart to hear her story, as I know it broke the hearts of many.

Sadly, it doesn’t seem to have broken your heart because, even after her death, you refuse to see that your child was struggling; you refuse to see that all she wanted was to be loved, to be understood, to be validated. You cannot even be bothered to call her by her name.

And that’s because you and your husband put your “religion” ahead of your child. You said you don’t support that  being transgender … religiously; that is transgender; that was your child; the fact that you didn’t support that caused your child to step onto a highway into oncoming traffic.

I’m sorry for that.

I’m sorry Leelah didn’t have parents who loved her unconditionally; I’m sorry Leelah had parents who, when they were told their own child felt “differently,” and had found a word to explain that difference, that her parents told her she was sick, she was wrong, she needed therapy.

She needed to be loved. She needed to be loved.

Sadly, you seem to forget that he wasn’t a ‘boy,’ but she was a young woman struggling with gender identity and your refusal to see that, understand that, accept that, set your religion aside and just simply  love your child, lead to Leelah’s death.

All of us in that LGBTQ spectrum have had feelings of being different, of not fitting in, and we have all voiced those feelings at some time or another to our parents; luckily, a great many of us had parents who, while not fully understanding what it means to be gay or transgender, still told their children that they loved them.

You told your daughter she was wrong; sure, maybe you can say you didn’t use that word; maybe you can say that she wasn’t transgender because ‘God’ doesn’t make mistakes, but when you took her to therapy, she knew what you thought of her; and it wasn’t love.

And you talked to CNN about the medications your daughter was given by counselors and therapists, and you talked about how Leelah never spoke of being transgender again like she had maybe changed her mind. The fact is she stopped talking to you about being transgender because she knew you didn’t accept her; she kept quiet because, in silence, she knew she would never have to hear you tell her she was wrong any more.

You told CNN that there are all kinds of hateful messages on the internet calling you and your husband “horrible people.” Did you once, just once, think that telling your daughter she was “wrong” was a hateful message, or did you just forget about her and think only about your religion, your faith, what people might say about you knowing you had a transgender child?

Again, I am sorry for your loss. I’m sorry for your lack of acceptance. I’m sorry you don’t understand. I’m sorry you turned your back on your child and she walked away from your house that day and never came back.

She could have been amazing, and now we’ll never know because you told her she was wrong, but it was you, Carla, you and your husband who were wrong. It was the wrong choice of words, and the wrong choice, choosing religion over your own child; wrong choice not listening.
Leelah was right, and she would have been all right had she had parents who truly loved her unconditionally. She could have been amazing … she was on her way. Even in her suicide note, she showed more compassion than her parents, when she asked that you give all of her things and money to the transgender civil rights movement and to transgender support groups:
"The only way I will rest in peace is if one day transgender people aren't treated the way I was, they're treated like humans, with valid feelings and human rights. Gender needs to be taught about in schools, the earlier the better. My death needs to mean something. My death needs to be counted in the number of transgender people who commit suicide this year...Fix society. Please."
And, Carla, you can start fixing things now by calling your daughter by her name:

Leelah Alcorn. Stop refusing to accept that she was Leelah, even in death. She was your daughter, she was your child.

Say her name, Leelah Alcorn. Give her that much.

via CNN
Leelah's story on ISBL

10 comments:

anne marie in philly said...

bitch. I hope her conscience haunts her til she dies a horrible death.

the dogs' mother said...

Hopefully this tragic experience will enlighten a few people for future Leelahs. xoxoxo

Professor Chaos said...

The mother wouldn't even admit that she committed suicide. In her statement she said thsg her "son" went for a walk and got hit by a truck. Despicable!

The Cool Cookie said...

There is another victim in this that no one is talking about. The truck driver.

Leelah involved him or her in her suicide, with knowing their feelings about human life. That is part of this tragedy that everyone seems to have forgotten.

The Cool Cookie said...

Whenever I read of others criticizing the grieving process of loved ones, I am reminded of the woman who said to me that she was appalled that I was not prostate with grief when my mother died, because "she" was very upset when her mother died. But for me, there was great sadness, but closure because my mother had been terribly ill in the end, and I had been with her when she passed. There were no things left unsaid between us. She loved me and I loved her - we knew that - and facing that she wasn't going to better. Seeing her in pain was the worst imaginable suffering either of us had been through. When she died, I was at peace, but I miss her to this day something fierce.

On the other side, when my father, with whom I had had one of the worst possible relationships died a thousand miles away from me, with things left unsaid, immovable in his opinions as I was in mine - he, my first sexual partner, and thus my abuser - a man who made me physically ill to be around, I was a totally mess for two years. I cried. I cried. I cried because I could not fix it, and there was nothing to fix. He physically, mentally and sexually abused me and I cried because my daddy was dead, and I could not fix it, I could not. And I eventually had a nervous breakdown, the old fashioned way.

I tell you this - the people who damn this mother, because everyone's grief reaction at the loss of someone they love - even if we can't understand that love, is different.

This woman needs to walk her own path. And while many of us clearly see her hand in her denial in her child's life, it shouldn't surprise us that she also can't see her own hand in her child's death.

Don't damn her - this is one of those moments where I fell we have to send this woman the strength she needs to wake up, see what she did to her child and that she she spends the rest of her days doing what her "son" would want her to do on his behalf, which is accept him as her "daughter", and help other bull headed parents see the compassionate truth of accepting their children as she could not and thus avert the additional loss of life.

If good has to come from this, then justice is that she owns her daughter's mission,

Bob Slatten said...

@Cookie
I don't damn her for her grief, I damn her for the way she treated her daughter in life.

Helen Lashbrook said...

The Cool Cookie is right; we all grieve in different ways for different people

In some ways I hope Leelah's mother never realises the crucial role she and her husband played in their daughter's death. The knowledge that you were responsible for the death of your child would impose a guilt that for me would be impossible to live with. But that's me, not her; maybe Leelah's mother's god would support her with the guilt.

And Bob, you are right too, children need love; not unconditional love, we have to lay ground rules. But accepting a child for who they are is one of the basics. Some things cannot be learned, like sexual orientation or intelligence, they are part of who we are and MUST be accepted by parents

Catherine Hohn said...

I hope she DOES realize the role she played and it haunts her every single day so that she changes her wrong ideas and works to make the changes that her DAUGHTER wanted to make in the world for trans-acceptance.

The Cool Cookie said...

@Bob, and on your point we agree. Had this narrow minded bigot loved her child, and gotten herself over this problem of her, is is a very real fact that her child would be alive today.

Remember that the most intelligent the being, there is a very real ability to see ones own behavior as being able to help, hurt or harm others. And Leelah's mother hasn't attained that level of self awareness.

Helen Lashbrook said...

Leelah is remembered here, from my paper today; "A vigil was held in London yesterday in memory of Leelah Alcorn, a 17 year old from Ohio who killed herself on 28 December. The transgender teenager left a moving note on a social media site blaming her depression and suicide on a lack of healthcare and support. Her death has prompted a petition calling for an end to conversion therapy, something she had been forced to undergo." The Observer 4/1/15