Trans Suicide: An Epiphany Reflection

In my school RE classes, I was taught that suicide is the one unforgiveable sin. So what are we to make of the social prejudices, discrimination, and even Church teaching or practice, that drive people to take their own lives? At Bondings 2.0, Bob Shine has a reflection on one such trans suicide that has made the headlines (unreported, there are many, many more).

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Resolve to Create a Trans* Epiphany in 2015

Leelah Alcorn

One question is occupying my mind on today’s Feast of the Epiphany: what does God’s rupture into humanity mean following a 17-year-old trans* girl’s suicide?

Leelah Alcorn walked onto a highway and ended her life via a truck three days after Christmas. As Christians worldwide celebrated Jesus’ birth, the Alcorns were instead confronted by their own child’s death. Leelah had written about the suicide on her blog shortly beforehand. That note, found here in full, says the following:

“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.”

Leelah describes the Christian therapists who tried to “heal” her and the social isolation her parents imposed after withdrawing Leelah from school. Instead of liberating Leelah, the Christian faith of those who could neither love her nor understand her as she had been made by God became complicit in this young girl’s death.

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