Leelah Alcorn’s suicide note [full text]


It looks like Leelah Alcorn’s suicide note was taken down from her tumblr account. For the sake of posterity, here is the note in full.Her reddit posts are still up. Photo credit to heavy.com for the featured image. 

If you are reading this, it means that I have committed suicide and obviously failed to delete this post from my queue.

Please don’t be sad, it’s for the better. The life I would’ve lived isn’t worth living in… because I’m transgender. I could go into detail explaining why I feel that way, but this note is probably going to be lengthy enough as it is. To put it simply, I feel like a girl trapped in a boy’s body, and I’ve felt that way ever since I was 4. I never knew there was a word for that feeling, nor was it possible for a boy to become a girl, so I never told anyone and I just continued to do traditionally “boyish” things to try to fit in.

When I was 14, I learned what transgender meant and cried of happiness. After 10 years of confusion I finally understood who I was. I immediately told my mom, and she reacted extremely negatively, telling me that it was a phase, that I would never truly be a girl, that God doesn’t make mistakes, that I am wrong. If you are reading this, parents, please don’t tell this to your kids. Even if you are Christian or are against transgender people don’t ever say that to someone, especially your kid. That won’t do anything but make them hate them self. That’s exactly what it did to me.

My mom started taking me to a therapist, but would only take me to christian therapists, (who were all very biased) so I never actually got the therapy I needed to cure me of my depression. I only got more christians telling me that I was selfish and wrong and that I should look to God for help.

When I was 16 I realized that my parents would never come around, and that I would have to wait until I was 18 to start any sort of transitioning treatment, which absolutely broke my heart. The longer you wait, the harder it is to transition. I felt hopeless, that I was just going to look like a man in drag for the rest of my life. On my 16th birthday, when I didn’t receive consent from my parents to start transitioning, I cried myself to sleep.

I formed a sort of a “f*** you” attitude towards my parents and came out as gay at school, thinking that maybe if I eased into coming out as trans it would be less of a shock. Although the reaction from my friends was positive, my parents were pissed. They felt like I was attacking their image, and that I was an embarrassment to them. They wanted me to be their perfect little straight christian boy, and that’s obviously not what I wanted.

So they took me out of public school, took away my laptop and phone, and forbid me of getting on any sort of social media, completely isolating me from my friends. This was probably the part of my life when I was the most depressed, and I’m surprised I didn’t kill myself. I was completely alone for 5 months. No friends, no support, no love. Just my parent’s disappointment and the cruelty of loneliness.

At the end of the school year, my parents finally came around and gave me my phone and let me back on social media. I was excited, I finally had my friends back. They were extremely excited to see me and talk to me, but only at first. Eventually they realized they didn’t actually give a s**t about me, and I felt even lonelier than I did before. The only friends I thought I had only liked me because they saw me five times a week.

After a summer of having almost no friends plus the weight of having to think about college, save money for moving out, keep my grades up, go to church each week and feel like s**t because everyone there is against everything I live for, I have decided I’ve had enough. I’m never going to transition successfully, even when I move out. I’m never going to be happy with the way I look or sound. I’m never going to have enough friends to satisfy me. I’m never going to have enough love to satisfy me. I’m never going to find a man who loves me. I’m never going to be happy. Either I live the rest of my life as a lonely man who wishes he were a woman or I live my life as a lonelier woman who hates herself. There’s no winning. There’s no way out. I’m sad enough already, I don’t need my life to get any worse. People say “it gets better” but that isn’t true in my case. It gets worse. Each day I get worse.

That’s the gist of it, that’s why I feel like killing myself. Sorry if that’s not a good enough reason for you, it’s good enough for me. As for my will, I want 100% of the things that I legally own to be sold and the money (plus my money in the bank) to be given to trans civil rights movements and support groups, I don’t give a s**t which one. 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. I want someone to look at that number and say “that’s f***ed up” and fix it. Fix society. Please.


(Leelah) Josh Alcorn

13 thoughts on “Leelah Alcorn’s suicide note [full text]

  1. Pingback: How do we respond to Leelah Alcorn’s death? – Reflections from a survivor | The Catholic Transgender

  2. Here is my reflection on both Westboro Baptist (who demonstrated in town today) and the overwhelming feelings it can generate within us. It isn’t well written but it speaks from my heart and to my heart but I don’t know if you can get much out of it. There is no obligation to read it… the terms, you, us, me, we, they, I… consider them interchangeable throughout these ramblings with and to myself… this was initially started for an upset friend and reflects the needs of our many Leelahs.

    I respect your reaction to Westboro because the same sort of shit triggers me pretty hard too. It means you are a human being that has managed to preserved your heart and soul, regardless of what others may have done to strangle it. Isn’t your outrage your protective response to the protection you did not get but should have? That is what makes you a fully human being.

    For those of us who have been damaged by spiritual abuse in any of its many forms, it is natural, maybe even healthy to have a strong visceral rage at the very thought of the Westboro crew. I’ve been experiencing a lot of strong visceral rages lately. The murder by ignorance, mental and spiritual abuse of Leelah Alcorn because she was trans. The death/murder of Alan Turing; …see the Imitation Game, if you can bear going through the mental and emotional grinder of sincerely wanting to commit a few murders yourself. It was all I could do to get out of the theater before kicking the shit out of something, anything, just to get the poison of rage out of my system…. my encounters with medical ‘insurance’ and the ‘system’.

    I’ve heard it said that empathy is the emotion that makes us human. I think sometimes it has the power to take it away from us too. And, if we are catholic we see everyone as an ‘us’ and our empathy as a grace from God to be responded to with acts of compassion….mia culpa… what I have done and failed to do.

    The practice of compassion, requires our action to come from our heart response. Otherwise, the empathy we have for another suffering an abuse coupled to our inaction to stop it, will eat our souls and harden our hearts making us no longer fully human beings. I know this from experience.

    I go to therapy and have taken up meditation for a reason! We are expected to adapt to outrageous injustices perpetrated against ‘us’ personally or collectively and by extension, those ‘like us’ in the very broadest sense, regardless of why ‘we’ or ‘they’
    are being targeted. How to adapt to these outrages? We need to “Please.Fix society.”

    Anyway, I empathize with the righteous anger you feel. When it hits me it is like hearing the Holy Spirit screaming in my ear and refusing to shut up. I am being called to action. I need to respect it and pay attention for ways to make the world a better place, to “fix it” for all the Leelah Alcorns and others of our world. I meditate. I pray. I go out and help with getting things done.

    I remember a prof from college saying,”People who make change in our society; when they see something that needs to be done, they do it.”. I think my mom used to say that to us kids in a thousand ways; often related to keeping the household operating… “If you see it, why are you waiting for someone else to take care of it?”. She had her wisdom too, and it extended beyond cleaning up domestic messes and letting the dog out.

    There are many ways to fix the world. Today, being a human shield from Westboro was a wonderful re-action. It wasn’t something I could have done though. I hope you were able to go. But it also must mean staying aware of the world we move around in. Taking the risk of speaking up right there, right then, (if not me who?) when we see an injustice being done no matter how small it seems. Noticing the response of others that are being abused and doing something when you see it happening, no matter how small the abuse seems, or how small your response seems. Collectively, the small things are so powerful. If nothing else it models to everyone around you how the world can be by creating an instance of that reality.

    I find myself feeling incapable of responding to some things because I get totally overwhelmed. That is called PTSD. It happens to marginalized individuals. And it happens to entire marginalized communities. If you find yourself getting overwhelmed, it is time to give yourself a break and take care of yourself. Maybe check in on a friend to see how they are faring, then leave it at that. It is a way of both getting and giving the support we deserve now and deserved when we were the victims of some form of trauma either as an individual or as a community; they both count. We all count.

    It is our response – ability to “Please. Fix it”. And we can; because we all count.

  3. Hello there, Intentionally Andrew here. I just made a reply post and we haven’t even met. Was that rude of me… sorry.
    What I wrote started as a response to a gay fellow parishioner who was previously gone from the church for the usual painful reasons of spiritual abuse. He was very upset about the Westboro bunch ( aka the Phelps family of Topeka) coming to town to spread their vial hatred, targeting our sports team, a National Christian convention in town, and Catholic churches. I assume he knows who Leelah Alcorn was… is, she will live forever in the conscientious of this country. What a bright, clear minded young woman… what a dynamo we lost! There was a memorial for her here too.

    The writing turned into more of a journal of my own. It helped me examine the difficulty of the last month, and the reliving of the contemplation of my own suicide and the hopelessness that used to consume me. I’m still feeling raw. It’s ‘nothing new’, but every time it happens I relive the pain while trying to make myself reach out to others at the same time. I will never get used to it. I refuse to; it would disrespect the blood, sweat and tears of each of our hard won journeys.

    I agree with you whole heartedly that WE must make the changes that Leelah died still needing. That violence begets violence. Love will eventually conquer all. We must get off our duffs and do it. After all, WE are the body of Christ on earth, his hands and heart. It is up to all of us to act accordingly.

    I volunteer at an LGBTQ youth center serving many homeless youth (just like I was at their age). The main goal is keep them alive (suicide, drugs, HIV, trading sex for a place to sleep, etc) and cared for. Because bad “choices” happen when they are driven by hunger I try to see to it as much food as possible comes their way. I am tranz just as many of them are, but I am 60 and they are 16. I have ‘made it’ and they are trying to find their way.

    I am a volunteer at the St Vincent de Paul food pantry in my parish where I got to build my changing muscles unloading the truck. I ‘recruited’ younger transmen from the local LGBTQ center (for grownups) to come and help build their muscles there too…I am true to my name, a Fisher of Men.

    I transitioned about six years ago. I never would have survived finally being able to face my true self, if it hadn’t been for my priest: “You have to be who God made you to be”. I’ve spent the last six years trying to figure out just what the hell God had in mind for me and I keep getting some pretty clear examples. I’ve not been disappointed or idle! I am welcomed in the faith community I had before I transitioned. I know because they keep finding work for me to do! I’ve been asked to talk to parents with transchildren, to other trans-folks who are struggling. I am a Eucharistic Minister who loves nothing more than to look at the massed people and see the incredible diversity in my parish, offer the Bread of Life to a fellow parishioner and say ‘We are The Body of Christ’, and know I am saying the truth. It humbles and strengthens me just as I need it to. I am on the parish council. I am the luckiest one alive because I have all of this and I just found you too! Peace be with you – Andrew

    • Andrew, it’s an honor to meet you. I too have PTSD and have to pull out of triggering dialogues sometimes, but at the end of the day what gives me life is being able to channel God’s grace toward serving others. Sounds like you have a similar experience!

  4. Pingback: The Reality of Transgenderism: A Stern but Necessary Critique of Carlos Flores’ “Stern but Necessary Critique.” | The Catholic Transgender

  5. Pingback: RECongress “Transgender Lives in the Church” Talk (Transcript) | Catholic Trans*

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  7. Pingback: Response to Blaire White on Trans Kids: Should we Allow Gender Dysphoric Children to Undergo Hormone Therapy? – Guardian Acorn

  8. The perfection of this note bothered me for a few years. Earlier this years I realized that she wanted to make her note as easy to understand as possible. I can only assume she is wanted everyone to grasp the entire meaning.

  9. Pingback: On the anniversary of her death, we re-publish Leelah's suicide message | LGBT بالعربي

  10. Thank you for posting this. I read it once a year and can’t reliably find it anywhere else. I do not know why this isn’t all over the internet – it should be.

    I generally come here once a year, on December 28th, and read this to remind me of the debt I have to pay to Leelah and every other transgender person in this who has lived.

    My daughter was assigned male at birth and came out around the same age as Leelah. My little one was 15 when she came out in 2016. When Leelah died I didn’t know my daughter was female – but I saw this and read it and remembered it. How could you not remember it?

    After my daughter came out and I was struggling with all of the fears of having a transgender child and what that would mean for her – I came back to this letter and I realized that, no matter how scared I was, my daughter was FAR more scared and my only job was to support and love her.

    I also reached out to an online support group and found a wonderful mother of a trans child that told me “this gets easier the happier your child gets.” She could not have been more right. I quickly (11 days later!) found myself in a doctor’s office signing paperwork for hormone therapy – and three years later, I have a beautiful, brilliant and (mostly) happy 17 year old daughter. I wouldn’t trade her for anything.

    Today I came to this site because I am getting a tattoo that will include the pride colors and quote Leelah’s final words – “Fix society. Please.” Today and everyday after, I will endeavor to fix the society that led her to this decision, for Leelah, my daughter, and every other transgendered individual who hasn’t felt safe in their own skin in this world.

    Thank you to each and every one of you for what you have done to make this world a safer place for my daughter. Leelah, if there is a heaven (I’m afraid there isn’t, but just in case), you are most certainly in it. You have inspired me to be the best mom I can be for someone just like you.

    – Amanda

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