When I read Leelah Alcorn’s final words in her suicide note I am filled with emotion. I am sad. I am angry. And yet the emotions sad and angry seem so inadequate to describe what I feel in my heart.
Leelah’s message was a painfully honest expression of the very deepest places of her being. Knowing that they would be her final words, she kept her message raw and real so there would be no question as to why she chose to end her life.
While volumes could be written about nearly every sentence of her tumblr post, the words that jumped off the page to me were: “God doesn’t make any mistakes” spoken to her by her parents in regards to her revelation that she was a girl trapped in a boy’s body.
God doesn’t make any mistakes.
I know those words. I grew up with them. They are commonly used in most religious church circles. It’s a catch-all phrase that rolls off the tongue easily especially when the uncomfortable subject of one’s sexuality comes up. I heard it too when I was growing up. I heard it again when I acknowledged I was gay.
It’s a simple way of shutting down those subjects that don’t fit into one’s theology.
I’m gay. I was born this way. “No you weren’t son. God doesn’t make mistakes.”
I’m a girl trapped in a boy’s body. “No, you’re just confused. It’s a phase. God doesn’t make mistakes.”
I’m a woman attracted to women. No, you can’t be because God doesn’t make lesbians and he certainly doesn’t make any mistakes!
But do people really believe that God doesn’t make any mistakes? Let’s ask the parent of the child born intersex (genitalia that is neither male or female). When faced with a child who is neither male nor female physically, parents are forced to leave the sex unassigned until child is old enough to chooses their own, or the parents make the choice for the child and attempt to force it up on that child even if it is the wrong choice. But remember: God doesn’t make any mistakes.
Let’s ask the parents of the baby born with a cleft palate if they feel the child should forgo any corrective surgery because “god doesn’t make mistakes”?
Ask the parents of the child born with developmental challenges that require years of special education, therapy and medical procedures. Do they try to force the child to conform to societal norms and expect it to simply adjust to what everyone expects since “God doesn’t make any mistakes”?
Ask the parents of children who begin displaying symptoms of depression, bi-polar, mental illness or other emotional challenges. Should they just ignore it since “God doesn’t make any mistakes”?
I’m not here to argue about whether God makes mistakes or not but the use of this flimsy cliché to conveniently dismiss someone’s innermost turmoil must stop!
We may not all agree on God’s nature, but we can all agree that our world is not perfect and every day people are born or discover physical, mental and undetectable-at-birth issues of the heart that cannot be dismissed with a “sucks to be you” statement wrapped in a tired, threadbare religious cliché.
If Jesus were to have embraced this cliché instead of healing the deaf, blind, lame, diseased and tormented, he would have smiled as he passed and said, “Learn to live with it my friend, there’s nothing wrong with you! Remember, God makes no mistakes!”
My heart goes out to Leelah’s parents. They have been blinded by a religion that taught them that the most loving thing they could do for their child is to deny the child’s heart and convince her that she must conform to the only “acceptable” person that their religion allows because…God makes no mistakes. I suspect they are torn and confused right now over the result of their sticking to this warped concept of “love” which ultimately cost them their child’s life.
It’s time the words “God doesn’t make any mistakes” are put to rest.
Perhaps God doesn’t make any mistakes…but people do…and these mistakes are taking the lives of innocents like Leelah Alcorn.
Leelah's Last Words
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