Friday, 2 January 2015

Was it Right to Share Leelah's Suicide Note?

I've seen a number of commentators condemn the sharing of Leelah Alcorn's suicide not over the last twenty four hours.  Ranging from people who don't want conversion therapy to be banned, to defencive Christians who believe that it could damage their religion, to trans supporters who don't want her note to urge others into taking their own life.

The thing is, Leelah chose to share her letter on the Internet, on a public forum rather than some hand written note that would have been quickly destroyed and denied by her parents.  Leelah wanted the world to know who she really was and the horrors that her parents made her face.  We wouldn't have known this if it wasn't for her suicide note being shared.  Her mothers comment about her 'son' being accidentally hit by a truck would have been the only version of the story known to the world.

Even if some people were aware that Leelah was trans and chose to share that news, to suggest that perhaps she hadn't died in an accident she's be just another name on this years list of people we read on the Transgender Day of Remembrance.  Her story could have easily faded away into the background, just another horrible statistic.

By sharing Leelah's note her story has gone viral.  The trans community has banded together behind her memory, allies have lent their support, the media have been sharing her story (mostly in very trans positive ways).  #RealLiveTransAdult has appeared on Twitter and is full of beautiful, encouraging stories of trans people who are surviving to try and help those who need encouragement.  Her suicide note has made Leelah become an icon, she's become the face of transgender suicide.

Not the best thing to be known for granted, however, if that memory can be used to help other, to stop conversion therapy and make people aware of the torment that transgender youth go through then it can be made into something beautiful.

I read her suicide note and it made me cry.  It hurt so much to read those words.  But then it made me angry.  It made me want to never have to read another note like that again.  Her words spurred me to share her story, to sign the petitions, to write about her.  It made me pass her story on her, to give her memory a chance to live on through other people.

I never knew Leelah, but I cried for her, I want justice for her and I want her to be the last one we loose.  That was because of her suicide note.  She was right to share her goodbye with the world, and all those of us that have shared it were right too.  By staying silent we would let her memory fade, we would let her parents and people like them win.

So if someone asks you if it was right for her suicide note to be shared I hope you will join me in saying 'Yes, it was more than right.  It was needed.'


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  1. Regarding Leelah Alcorn;

    There is no shortage of LGBT torture within religion. Brainwashed minds can only spew it's nonsensical damage, all in the mindset of 'trying to do right'.

    Unconditional love? Religion and those who are hypnotized by it, will continue to try and justify it's damaging doctrines. It's only a distorted view of unconditional love, and they need to live with that guilt, not be justified by it.

  2. I agree that it's very important to make sure people read Leelah's words so that we know the real reason she died and we can help others who are suffering the same way as her. But people are being quite thoughtless in posting it directly on sites like tumblr without any trigger warning-it's very upsetting for a person who has lost someone the same way to see a suicide note on their screen with absolutely no warning, and some of the coverage comes dangerously close to glamourising Leelah's death and making it seem like suicide is a way to gain love and acceptance. Although it is important to make sure her words aren't lost we still have a responsibility to look after the people still here,