December 29, 2014.
Union Township, Ohio.
Somewhere in this small part of the world, a young teenager steps in front of a semi pickup truck deliberately. The driver, not able to swerve in time, watches in horror at the events that follow. There is no relation between the victim and the driver. Two strangers caught in the midst of an unforeseen and unavoidable moment.
At approximately 2 AM, the victim passes away from their injuries. Other than identification, there is no given motive to their actions that is until a delayed post-response emerges on their Tumblr: a suicide note.
The note goes as follows:
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 “fuck 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 shit 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 shit 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 shit 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 fucked up” and fix it. Fix society. Please.
(Leelah) Josh Alcorn
For a moment in time, those final words remain as the sole surviving piece of evidence that sheds light in the wake of this tragedy. Within minutes of the posting, news travels across the media circuit, some identifying her by her default gender; others delving deep into a tirade of morality, citing Miss Alcorn as another victim to the long list of transgendered victims.
Another statistic amongst the hundreds if not thousands of victims each year. For most, there is only a brief moment of shared mourning, pity for the departed and the extent of their suffering. In the wake of this event, hashtags emerge like wildfire across every bulletin it circulates. It makes the evening news in Ohio. Up north, here in British Columbia, there is no coverage and no commentary.
One would think that perhaps these news are irrelevant especially when not applicable or relative within their own life. That is understandable. There are more immediate concerns to any one individual than to offer little more than condolences for another lost life. Perhaps this comes as no surprise to anyone, given the annual rate of suicides and murders that take place on a regular basis against the transgender community.
I do not have any previous relations with the departed. No, this is someone who I would have known little about and what conclusions that may be drawn on my part for them, based off a simple note, would be entirely filled with assumptions. Beyond that questions, a lack of answers, and – not for a lack of sympathy – no obligation to take this news into heart.
I am bound by my duty as both flag bearer and a fucking human being not to be without compassion, not to be voluntarily ignorant of such things. There is still warmth in the blood that courses through my veins.
This isn’t because of not knowing the victim, not about the viral circus and arguments and debates that people might conjure in the wake of this tragedy, not even an issue about any motive or reason or cause.
This is a matter of another human life.
A teenager. A child. Someone that might have under a different circumstance been a person that I might have known or anyone else, a potential friend or ally or whomever; a child, born from a lineage of two separate individuals, from a history of forgotten lineages and traditions here in this day and age, this point and time.
A life, perhaps not one that would identify within the BDSM world, not one that would identify with anything other than what she might have felt fit to belong, gone. Sure. People die every day from war, famine, disease and this may only be one statistic – another name to be forgotten in time, another legacy lost to human cruelty and neglect.
The most heart breaking revelation, often repeated time and time again, may be the fact that this might have been prevented.
All of such similar cases could have been prevented.
One may be compelled to blame the parents, the rest of society, and circumstance as cause for this sad news. Truth? In my opinion, this could have been prevented by a tremendous amount of action and yet not being there at the time, not being fit to intervene from that barrier as a stranger, nothing could be done.
But there is still hope within those final words, the kind of words that travels for miles like the sound of agony, and that hope is for the room for change. There is still hope, for those waiting to be told otherwise, and the ability to make even a small difference. After all it is one thing to be aware and still something else entirely to make something out of that awareness.
I do not know how capable I am of providing that for anyone. I lack the understanding, at least on a professional psychological scale, to provide that. I have not experienced any of such hardship as the departed has described nor would I understand it fully, like the numerous accounts given by my own transgendered friends.
What I do know is that there is still a light in the darkness.
I know as vague as this would sound that light is all that separates another person waiting to be seen and heard from becoming a statistic. I know that sometimes in life all that matters to someone that has nothing is a brief moment of compassion, giving to them a gift that modern bigotry has often perverted – behind judgment, self-righteousness, and worst of all good will when there is none.
I know more than anything else the dedication I have as a flag bearer comes not from any cause or movement, but as a sign for those waiting in the shadows to be discovered. A sign for those waiting to be told, that they are not alone, not without hope. That there is hope waiting to be found and always people that would care for them, accept them, and welcome them amongst their ranks.
Now instead there is vigilance, not anger or sorrow, especially in the wake of such tragedies. Only a stronger and more profound impulse to raise the colors before even the anger and bigotry of an otherwise unforgiving world. It would be easier to focus instead on my own life, given my lack of relation or understanding for the departed; easier still to take my own joys and sorrows for granted, owing no obligation for a stranger amongst a world full of them…
…but as the saying goes, even one is still one too many.
May the Crossroads be kinder to you than they should have been.
“The Flag Still Stands.”
For you and everyone else lost in the darkness.