Don't Eat With Your Mouth Full

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Leelah Alcorn
Seventeen-year-old Leelah Alcorn's Tumblr account, including her suicide note, has been deleted, either by Tumblr itself or by her parents. [ETA: it's now been confirmed that it was her parents.] However, it still exists on web.archive.org, and here's a screen shot of her final message:


leelah note


I post this in part because Leelah wanted her death to be of some use in raising awareness of the problems faced by trans children, and deleting her Tumblr seems an act designed to disrespect her wishes in death as they were brutally denied in life. It's also in response to Sarah Ditum's New Statesman piece urging us to stop talking about Leelah's treatment at the hands of her parents and the reparative therapists they sent her to. "Concern trolling" is indeed the mot juste on this occasion: for two (amongst several) excellent analyses of Ditum's article, see Cheryl Morgan here and Natacha Kennedy here.

This isn't the way it has to be. A few weeks ago I was honoured to be contacted for advice by a young friend (whom I've known all their life), who was about to come out as trans to their (Christian) parents and wanted advice on how to do it - or rather, since I'm hardly an object lesson in that regard, on what kinds of questions and concerns they might expect. I answered as best I could, though can't take credit for the fact that they were received with love and understanding: that's the kind of people they are. But Leelah's story and variants on it are still far too common, and erasing her life and death helps no one but future abusers.

I originally read that note on Chiara's blog. It is so sad and i agree with you that erasing the post and the remembrance of her life will help nobody but future abusers.

Thank you for linking that screenshot.

I love my godson (whom I live with and help raise) so much. I can't imagine ever caring about anything more than I care about his happiness and making sure he knows he is loved exactly the way he is no matter what (he's three and seems pretty rigid about gender right now, but if he tells me later in life that he is trans, then I will feel exactly the same way about her). It's horrific what that child was put through by her own parents.

That's the more poignant to me because someone I know came out as trans to their friends yesterday, and has been met with nothing but love and support. It's so sad that it can't be that way for everyone.

Jesus! (and I use the term advisedly as both a trans woman and as a believer)

This is getting worse and having journalists having the utter effrontery to tell us how to react doesn't help matters!

After forty odd years I for one have had my bloody fill of cisplaining!

Edited at 2015-01-03 01:33 pm (UTC)

I'm just going to use this post as an opportunity to expostulate on a scornful response to this tragedy I came across in a right-wing-spittle blog (I've found a way to identify these: they refer to liberals as "rabbits"). Something to the effect of that to say XX is XY or XY is XX is Alice-like topsy turvy nonsense.

Anyone who could say that doesn't know anything about biology, and thinks it works like engineering. (Not that engineering always works like that, either.) And this person is supposed to be a science fiction writer! Chiara was saying something about cisplaining?

-

Referring to your young friend's parents: these are true Christians, then, ones who actually practice their religion. The same right-winger was going on about Muslim terrorists and how there are no Christian terrorists, but if Leelah's treatment wasn't terrorism, what is? (Also, yes, there are Christians who plant bombs on those they disagree with.)

We've been talking about this for days (trans friend who stays with us every Christmas because their birth family totally rejected them after the transition). It grieves me so much that she had no one to reach out to.

Thanks for sharing this. I deliberately haven't read Sarah Ditum's article, though am pretty well-acquainted with its contents from reading other people's reactions, but after I read Cheryl Morgan's piece and Sarah Brown's (this one) I felt I should also read Leelah Alcorn's own words - only by then, of course, it was too late to see them on her blog. I absolutely agree now that I've read her note that it is vital for as many people as possible to see it, and I am so sorry for her that she felt so isolated and bereft of hope.

Thanks for the link to Sarah Brown's piece. She always has insightful things to say about trans issues.

Read the articles. Agree with the responses; from what I read of the emotional trauma of rejected trans teens, copycat suicide is the least of the problems society faces here (but I have no authority to speak on this either way).

Cheryl and Kennedy* have many good points. Ditum does have one: don't harass the parents. It won't help convert others like them to love and understanding and it really doesn't look good on the perpetrators.

At the beginning of her next to last paragraph, Kennedy commits a dangling modifier bad enough that it actually confused me until I checked the links.

*whom I refer to this way because I know the one personally but not the other

Of course I agree the parents shouldn't be harrassed, though at the same time I think it disingenuous of Ditum to talk about "a sense of basic dignity and respect for the grieving family", as if they were just victims of tragic circumstance. More pertinently, I've signed this petition.

Agreed about the dangling modifier!

Thank you for the screencap. I hadn't seen any of the articles.

(Here via LJ Home Page)

What an unbelievably selfish person this biological male was! Can you imagine how the poor driver of the tractor trailer must feel? This person did not in any way choose or consent to be involved in anyone's death! Put yourself in that person's position for a moment. They will live with this nightmare for the rest of their life!

And yet there is NOTHING said about that in any of the stories I've seen. Just story after story promoting the lie that this biological male was a female, and the supposedly "mean" people who refused to encourage him in his mental illness.

(And I guarantee you there will by more of that here, including hatred spewed at me for saying these facts.)

I share your concern for the driver - that must be an awful thing to have to cope with. I hope they get the counselling and support they need.

As for the rest of your comment, I'm happy to let your words stand here. They say far more about you than I could.

"As for the rest of your comment, I'm happy to let your words stand here. They say far more about you than I could."

They are facts. That's why you cannot and will not counter them.

Now you're just being boring, and that's a banning offence.

Leelah was depressed and seventeen. Both of those qualities predispose someone toward selfishness. Intense suffering will do that to a person. Expecting adult, calm levels of consideration from her is simply cruel.

The rest of your transphobic bullshit is simply not worth engaging with. But if you enjoy denying the reality that real life and real biology is more complicated than your childhood copy of Where Did I Come From?, why don't you leave the grown-ups to get on with the real discussion?

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