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“Is this considered abuse?”
Editor’s note: This post has been updated for clarity.
The suicide of a transgender teen who wrote a heartbreaking indictment of her parents’ rejection of her identity on religious grounds before she died has ushered in a national conversation about transgender rights and the best way to help troubled teens in isolated conditions.
Two months before she died, 17-year-old Leelah Alcorn was posting to various Reddit subforums asking for help and support.
Under the username nostalgiaprincess, she posted to celebrate her first instance of getting to buy cute clothes after coming out to her friends as trans.
But two days earlier, on Oct. 28, she posted a long message to Reddit’s r/asktransgender subforum asking whether there was any way out of a potentially abusive situation.
Most of what she says in the Oct. 28 thread precipitates what she would write in her final note on Tumblr. Alcorn provides what she believes is evidence of her parents’ emotional abuse and refusal to accept that she is transgender:
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.
Alcorn’s account of events in her home prior to her death contradicts her mother’s statement to CNN that her daughter only brought up the issue once. While her mother seemed unaware of the depth of her daughter’s dysphoria, Alcorn was looking for ways to escape what was for her a dangerous situation.
At the time of Alcorn’s Oct. 28 posting, she wanted to know whether she could leave home before she turned 18. Reddit’s r/asktransgender community responded positively, with several users urging her to seek emancipation.
A week later, on Nov. 9, she posted to r/suicidewatch.
After Alcorn’s death, these threads filled up with new comments simply reading “RIP.”
If you are in crisis or struggling with transgender identity issues, visit translifeonline.org. If you are struggling with depression or ideation, visit crisischat.org. You may also call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.
Photo via Tumblr
Aja Romano is a geek culture reporter and fandom expert. Their reporting at the Daily Dot covered everything from Harry Potter and anime to Tumblr and Gamergate. Romano joined Vox as a staff reporter in 2016.