December 23, 2014
Community Responsibility
January 8, 2015

As #LeelahAlcorn’s mom talks to CNN, Leelah’s Reddit posts come back to haunt her

TW: Bullying, Suicide, Cutting | While her mom talks to CNN to profess her love and support, Leelah’s Reddit posts paint a homelife defined by bullying and fear.

By Cristan Williams


Much has been written about Leelah Alcorn’s suicide note* which identifies conversion therapy and unsupportive parents as contributing factors to what happened to Leelah. Under the weight of public condemnation, Leelah’s mother, Carla Alcron told CNN that “[W]e told him [sic] that we loved him [sic] unconditionally. We loved him [sic] no matter what. I loved my son [sic]. People need to know that I loved him [sic]. He [sic] was a good kid, a good boy [sic].”

Months prior to her suicide, Leelah posted on Reddit, seeking help in dealing with parents who forced her into conversion therapy. Leelah, contradicting Carla Alcron’s claims to CNN, recounted that her parent’s bullying made her feel as if she “didn’t deserve to be alive.”

Sorry in advance for the long post, but I really need help.

Hi, I’m Leelah, 16 and MtF/dmab. Ever since I was around 4 or 5 I knew I was a girl, just like most of the lovely ladies on here, but I didn’t actually understand that it was possible to successfully change genders until I was 14. As soon as I found out what transgender meant, I came out to my mom. 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, and it felt awful.

She then proceeded to tell my Dad without my consent, and they were both extremely angry with me. They never physically hurt me, but they always talked to me in a very derogatory tone. They would say things like “You’ll never be a real girl” or “What’re you going to do, fuck boys?” or “God’s going to send you straight to hell”. These all made me feel awful about myself, I was christian at the time so I thought that God hated me and that I didn’t deserve to be alive. I cut myself at least once every couple days, and I was constantly thinking about suicide.

I wanted to see a gender therapist but they wouldn’t let me, they thought it would corrupt my mind. The would only let me see biased Christian therapists, who instead of listening to my feelings would try to change me into a straight male who loved God, and I would cry after every session because I felt like it was hopeless and there was no way I would ever become a girl.

Eventually I lied to them and told them I was straight and that I was a boy, and then the derogatory speech and neglect started to fade. I tried my absolute hardest to live up to their standards and be a straight male, but eventually I realized that I hated religion and my parents. I came out as gay in school, hoping to ease my friends into the whole LGBT thing before I came out as trans. Although my friends reactions were mostly positive my parents were beyond pissed. They took me out of public school, took away my phone and computer, and wouldn’t let me on social media websites, so I was out of contact with any of my friends. I was like this for 5 months, completely and utterly alone. I wasn’t allowed to talk to anyone outside of church and I wasn’t allowed to be with any of my friends, I just had to stay in my house and be quiet.

Eventually they came around and gave me my phone back, but they heavily monitored my facebook/twitter/tumblr profiles in case I did anything “stupid” again. Although I got my friends back I wasn’t allowed to talk to them about anything LGBT.

Since then, I’ve been trying to hang out with my friends more and now that I have a car I have more freedom, but my parents never let me around my friends. I’ve gone out with my friends 3 times in the last year, because every time my parents cancel last minute and make me do something else. It’s like they want me to have enough social interaction so I won’t forget how to interact with humans, but they don’t want me to actually have healthy relationships with people.

This feels horrible. The way I feel when I talk to my parents and the way my parents treat me like I’m subhuman and that my feelings aren’t valid all make me think that I’m going through abuse, but I don’t know if it counts or not. I’m not physically beaten or hit, but I feel like this is a different kind of abuse, maybe mental or verbal or something.

Please help me, I don’t know what I should do and I can’t take much more of this. I don’t know if my problem is serious enough that I can contact authorities for help and even if it is I don’t know how much that’ll damage or help my current situation. I’m stuck.

Although there is an effort to swamp trans-specific helpline call centers [STRONG TW] with bogus calls on the off-chance it will prevent a trans person from accessing help and result in their suicide, below are resources that you can use if you are feeling suicidal:

Trans Lifeline: 
US: (877) 565-8860
Canada: (877) 330-6366

The Trevor Project:
Chat or text

Parents of Trans Kids: A group of parents who support their trans kids is making themselves available to folks who might need to talk. You can reach them here.

When the TransAdvocate attempted to call a trans-specific helpline, we were unable to get through. If you are in need of another trans person to talk to and can’t get through to the above helplines, text the TransAdvocate at 708-274-7826. We will be monitoring texts and a TransAdvocate volunteer will call you back as soon as possible.

There is a Change and Whitehouse petition to enact Leelah’s Law, a law that would ban conversion therapy. We encourage our readers to support ending these dangerous “conversion” practices.

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Leelah’s Tumblr account was, as of today, deleted. A backup copy is located here.

Cristan Williams
Cristan Williams
Cristan Williams is a trans historian and pioneer in addressing the practical needs of the transgender community. She started the first trans homeless shelter in the South and co-founded the first federally funded trans-only homeless program, pioneered affordable healthcare for trans people in the Houston area, won the right for trans people to change their gender on Texas ID prior to surgery, started numerous trans social service programs and founded the Transgender Center as well as the Transgender Archives. Cristan is the editor at the social justice sites TransAdvocate.com and TheTERFs.com, is a long-term member and previous chair of the City of Houston HIV Prevention Planning Group.
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  • Sami

    Rest in peace Leelah. Your parents may deny you existence, but your trans family will always remember you as the beautiful girl you were.

  • Dee Omally

    Recently, a family member (sis) sent me the absolute most devastating and heart wrenching message: “What’s your agenda? Why are you shaming the family?” Words fail me, in endeavoring to adequately reveal the deep inner pain I felt; I cannot fathom the pain of a trans child held captive by religious ideology that has long since discarded faith for legalism. Although I choose to place my belief and trust in the same faith, the words “without love, I am nothing” are engraved in my heart. Leelah had no love, so she tragically “was nothing”….and the result of course was horrific. Christianity is supposed to nurture life, not foster death.

    When I received the text (I was expecting one because I am NOT ashamed of my trans history…I REFUSED to go “stealth”….the cost to me would be great (job loss), but the gains to my trans sisters would be even greater. Gay America found allies from being open…so too are we from being open, without shame.

    Recently, on LGBTQnation.com, I came under very strict censorship (comments removed) for daring to identify myself as trans + Christian. Apparently a gay (surprise surprise) editor took offense to this by comparing identity + belief…two entirely different concepts, with race. He stated that this is like a black man stating he was KKK. It is impossible to become white if one is black, but belief is a choice unrestricted to genetics. I found it crucial to bring up my faith precisely because I needed the credibility to show that Leelah’s parent’s were practicing religion, not faith. No matter whether Atheist or not, identifying one way but failing to practice it is heretical. Leelah’s parents epitomize the tragedy that has befallen Christianity: cherry picking to support whatever one wishes to. “Love thy neighbor” apparently excluded their precious child….as she was coerced into forced “conversion” therapy. Imposing belief through “therapy” is NOT therapy; it is legalized bullying, something that must be changed.

    As trans persons, religious “cherry picking” is a weapon often wielded against us, as we know all too well. What Leelah’s parents and others like her pretend to forget is that in context…the part about God’s creation is but phase one. Phase two is the part about man’s reproduction; we are no longer created, but are reproduced. My comment here is NOT about imposing belief, but about shedding light. Staying on topic, (Leelah and Christian beliefs), trans persecution at home and in school, too often based from such beliefs, is based on phase one, not phase two (that we are no longer created but fallibly reproduced). Why do I, sharing the same faith, acknowledge the 2nd part of the story; that man dies, gets old, gets sick….as proof that creation stopped and something else happened?

    1) Christian parents: your/our scriptures do state that “God created”…and all was good, but DO NOT forget to read further—that what was good became “bad”…and that we are NO LONGER created but fallibly reproduced. Leelah Alcorn would still be with us had her parents replaced dogma with objective analysis.

    (2) Leelah represents countless numbers of trans children, many too afraid to open up. Many are just as trapped in hostile households, with nowhere to turn. Clearly, Leelah had access to the internet and other resources, including help lines, although perhaps not trans-specific. She needed someone to personally advocate on her behalf. She needed someone to counter biased therapists and hostile parents, obviously.

    (3) All public school children must have access to information/resources independent of their household. It’s time to clamor for an LGBT representative in each and every public school. Trans and LGB lives hang in the balance.

  • Pamela S

    Hopefully some of the callers can be traced and charged with conspiracy to commit murder.

    Meanwhile, a little off topic, but I wanted to pass on this interesting article from the journalists’ organization Poynter: