I started writing this just over 20 minutes before the end of 2014 and I was originally not going to comment on the story. The reason is that I didn’t want to sound pretentious or make it sound like I was only commenting to get people to come to my blog, so if it has come across in that way then I sincerely apologise, because it has not been done with that intent.
For those of you that don’t actively follow transgender related news, a 17 year old transgendered individual from Warren County, USA, committed suicide a few days ago after her parents continued rejection of her feelings and outright refusal to allow her to start transitioning before she reached adulthood. Leelah Alcorn, born Josh Alcorn, came out to her parents as being transgendered but due to their religious belief, they didn’t support her at all and even the Facebook from her mother after her death referred to her only in the male tense.
I know that it’s hard to imagine for those are you that aren’t transgendered to truly understand how difficult it is to come out to your parents that you want to be the opposite gender. I first started telling some of my friends when I was 16, but I didn’t come out (for lack of better words) until I was 27, and I didn’t even start treatment until I was 28. Changing gender for me was the easy decision, I had wanted it since I was a young child, but how to tell people, especially my family was always the difficult decision.
Had I known how to tell them then I would have transitioned in my teens because they could have helped financially at that point, afterall, that is the most difficult time for anyone who is transgendered. It is the time when your body is developing into your biological gender rather than what you want it to be. I remember when I was going through my teens and I had started developing a lot sooner than the other males in my year. I was older than most and when I entered secondary school at age 11 (a few days before I turned 12) I was already 5 foot 11, at least six inches taller than the majority of others in my year group. As time went by I had to watch as the females developed and it was a difficult time because that’s all I wanted for my body.
Skip forward to July 2012 and I have come out to everyone and I tell my parents that I am transitioning from male to female via a letter. Even though I am fully out as female, wearing terrible wigs, fake breasts and I’ve done a terrible job on my make up, it was still an extremely difficult thing to do and I was stood in front of the letter box for nearly 20 minutes before finally shoving the letter through the slot. A few days later I got a text through from my parents and it was the last time I really spoke to them for a year, other than them occasionally writing to me stating their disapproval of my decision.
Thankfully as time has gone on they have come to accept it and my mother has now flipped entirely and now even buys me female clothes on a regular basis. It’s quite odd. They still refer to me by my name when I was male (even though I legally changed it in November 2012) and it bugs me, but it could be far, far worse. There are far worse things to worry about than my parents still calling me by my old name, but then again I’m not like most people and I can understand why most would not like it.
What I am trying to say in all that is that I was lucky in many ways. Leelah wasn’t.
Unfortunately, from what I understand, Leelah’s parents were never going to come around to the idea and it was just too much for her to take in the end. It’s a tragedy that she felt that she had to go that far just because her parents didn’t accept her and tried to force her to be someone that she’s not.
As I said earlier, no decision regarding changing your gender is easy. So many decisions in life are trivialised as being massive when they really aren’t. Choosing what prom dress to wear isn’t a massive life decision, nor is choosing which football team to support, whether you want a PS4 or an X-Box One, whether to celebrate New Years or stay in and write a blog about someone dying, these are not massive life decisions, changing gender is.
For some it’s essential to have that support from family and friends, and whilst I wasn’t one of those as I would have gone through with it at some point anyway, some people need that support and Leelah was one of them. Even though I’m not a believer of needing the support of family or friends to do something that you truly want, I find the attitude of Leelah’s parents to be absolutely shocking.
I don’t understand why parents wouldn’t want their children to be happy, and it shocks me that even now, in 2015 (it’s gone past midnight at this point) that so much of the world’s population base their entire life on what a book says. Before someone says it, I’m not going to turn this into a debate about religion. “It’s not what God wants” is not a valid reason for denying your children happiness.
If you’re going to be a parent, don’t be a dick about it. Let your children find their own way in life, let them do what they want (within reason obviously) and if you don’t support something and truly believe that your child is doing something wrong, let them learn from their mistake, don’t simply deny them the opportunity to do what they want. I’m not going to lie, I’ve fucked up a lot in my life, especially financially and I’m still paying for it now, but even though my parents were dead against me doing what lead me to be financially fucked, they allowed me the opportunity to learn from my mistakes.
Whilst I don’t support Leelah’s decision to commit suicide, I understand she felt the need to escape and hopefully her death will do what she wanted, having a meaning.
I’m going to end this blog with one of my favourite songs. It basically gives the message of being true to yourself, regardless of how stupid it seems or how unpopular it is.