On 28 December 2014, Leelah Alcorn committed suicide. She had been born into a conservative Christian family which tried to "cure" her transsexuality through lecture, Bible references, punishment, conversion therapy and by prohibiting all contact with the outside world.
Leelah left behind a suicide note which said in part:
"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."
She concluded with,"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's parents responded that they "loved their son unconditionally."
The episode sparked a heated international debate about the life transsexuals were forced to live, and on "conversion therapy" in particular.
David Benkof, the "Senior Political Analyst" for The Daily Caller (a conservative internet tabloid) offered his opinion on the matter (7 Jan 2015). He's gay and remains celibate for religious reasons. I believe his views not only reflect the general conservative perspective, but they are also shared to some degree across the political spectrum:
First of all, Mr Benkof doesn't believe that the transsexual population has an increased risk of suicide. He notes that statistics come from suicide attempts. The fact that the person survived proves that they were insincere and only acting out to draw attention to themselves.
Moreover, transsexuals commit suicide for the same silly reasons other teens do: clinical depression, drug use, hormonal changes, knowing someone who committed suicide, the death of a close family member, financial trouble, and an impulsive or aggressive personality. ...It's a result of their own bad life choices -- and definitely has nothing to do with society's harassment or rejection.
Benkof believes that LGBT groups have created an imaginary crisis to "overturn long-established views on homosexuality informed by religion, because saving lives is the highest virtue. Throw traditional morality out the window, there are lives at stake."
"Since the elevated rate of gay teen suicide is a direct result of having been bullied by peers, we need so-called “anti-bullying” policies and laws that intimidate and silence people who don’t celebrate homosexuality."
The political analyst goes on to say that even if there were higher rates of suicidal ideations among LGBT teenagers, it's because their community leadership constantly evokes suicide as a normal teen reaction to same-sex feelings. In fact, LGBT leaders are like recruiters for suicide bombers, sending out brainwashed converts to die for their extremist cause:
"Leelah knew that the gay community habitually points to teen suicide as an impetus for social and political change. Sadly, she found meaning in trying to pitch in, hoping her death would further advance LGBT rights."
"Yet prominent members of the gay community have seemed almost gleeful that Leelah’s death provides one more opportunity to gather sympathy for their social and political goals, such as belittling traditional religion, creating pro-gay clubs in schools, and passing a “Leelah’s Law” banning the (admittedly reckless) practice of reorientation therapy."
"Leelah’s death doesn’t call for a retread of pro-gay advocacy. Instead, it should be a sober opportunity for the LGBT community to re-examine its suicide strategy, lest they continue to encourage more Leelahs. And nobody wants that."
Original OpEd: http://dailycaller.com/2015/01/07/the-lgbt-communitys-suicide-strategy-killed-leelah-alcorn/David Benkof
These are the attitudes & beliefs that will need to be changed before trans suicide can become less frequent.
Wrong-gender distress is part of being transsexual. The higher the distress, the higher the suicide risk. There are 5-year olds who have killed or mutilated themselves because of pure Type 1 Distress.
Every individual is different. They have different needs & face different challenges. Thus long-term intervention must be individualized. However, rescuing a suicidal transsexual depends on offering two things: hope and someone who cares.
In a fruitless attempt to help, Pollyanna will say: Things will get better. Someone out there likes you. Have a nice day.
And the trans person will reply: Didn’t you read the section above about Promoting Suicide? Life is NOT getting better, and I am completely alone.
True assistance requires taking the transsexual’s hand, offering food, and giving them a boost so they can begin the climb out of the dark abyss. They need someone to talk to. They need a plan that will make things better. During recovery, they will need protection from society’s hostility, which will be trying to pull them back down. ...For their own good, of course.
Trans Social Services
Social support is essential to reducing the number of trans suicides. A recent survey of large metropolitan areas found that only 30% of women's shelters were willing to help transgender women. (13% percent offered to place trans women in isolation or with men, while 21% didn't even want to talk about it.) Many explained that accepting homeless trans teens would place the other residents at risk for sexual assault. It would make them feel uncomfortable.
The studies showed that even if they were admitted, 55% of the new residents encountered staff who consistently used the wrong pronoun and / or who demanded to inspect their genitals. Many were harassed or even assaulted by the other residents.
Somehow the shelter problem needs to be resolved. HUD recently released rules that prohibit public-supported shelters from discrimination against trans people. It's a good first step. However, time will tell how the rules will impact the real world. Besides, most shelters are operated by transphobic religions. In addition, the HUD rules can change under new government administrations.
In the interim, advocacy groups must fill the void. They can organize non-profit foundations to operate shelters. They can organize community-based pairings and subsidized housing.
For that matter, they could put trans-only porta-potties on every street corner in North Carolina.
Stop Suicide Resources
From the National LGBTQ Task Force:
The New Gender Paradigm
Suicide is a very difficult subject to illuminate. Non-trans people have a difficult time accepting the reality of wrong-gender distress or the intensity of the life-long loneliness. Official comments & recommendations too often consist of gratuitous platitudes, vague promises of future assistance, given with a heavy dose of It's your own fault. Such patronization only makes things worse.
The Gender Basics Portal
California at the Forefront
On 26 Sept 2016, California passed legislation that mandated that every school district in the state have a suicide prevention plan that included transgender students. It's the first school suicide prevention legislation in the country. So, what about the other 49 states, and why has it taken until 2016 to recognize the need?
In February 2016, the Republican National Committee called on all state legislatures to pass Potty Laws that would prohibit transsexuals from using public restrooms. Within a month, the North Carolina legislature met in special session to answer the call.
Almost immediately calls to the state's transgender suicide hotline doubled from 100 a day to 200 a day. Four weeks after bill passage, the numbers climbed to over 350 a day.
In November 2015, the Mormon Church announced a new anti-gay policy. The suicide rate among transgender people in Utah tripled immediately thereafter. Asked about the possible connection between the new policy and the increase in suicides, the Apostle Dallin Oaks replied:
“I think that’s a question that will be answered on Judgment Day. ... There are other [non-LGBT] cases where people have taken their own lives and blamed a church — my church — or a government, or somebody else for their taking their own lives, and I think those things have to be judged by a higher authority than exists on this earth.”
Here are some facts about suicide: Multiple surveys have shown that 41% of transgender people have attempted suicide, compared to 1.6% of the general population. Being fired from a job raises that prevalence to 55%, harassment in school is 51%; assault or being forced into sex work leads 61% of the trans population to attempt suicide. Homelessness: 69%
Depression is a major factor in almost all suicides. Trans depression isn’t caused by a bad mix of chemicals in the brain. It’s related to real events in a hostile world. It’s being under attack in an impossible situation (ie, penniless, homeless, vulnerable, no relationships, universal rejection, no options.)
There may or may not be a final event that “breaks the camel’s back” (such as: an assault, job loss, another rejection, etc.)
A trans person thinks to herself:
Reach out to whom?
Another crippling fact is that most of society WANTS transsexuals to commit suicide. …Or at least, they think: If your life is so bad, why don’t you just stop being transsexual?
After all, general society is composed of the people who are doing the firing, rejecting and harassing. Not only do most legislatures refuse to pass non-discrimination and hate-crime protections, many are passing laws intended to worsen the lives of transsexuals. Remember that most public shelters won’t admit transsexuals. And what religion chastises parents who abandon their transgender youth, to live on the streets?
Even though the transgender population has the highest suicide risk of any other group, local & national governments don’t even feel the need to track the numbers.
When a trans person puts her head into the noose or swallows the pills, she’s thinking: I’m doing what you want me to do. The world will be a better place without me.
She’s NOT thinking: Poor me, life is so hard.
And the parents who kicked their 14-year old daughter out into the streets knew exactly what would happen next. Make sure the knot is tight, or maybe, Can I get you more pills?
Any program hoping to reduce the suicide risk in the trans population would first have to reverse these popular trends. At the core of transsexual rejection lies the mistaken belief that crushing transsexuals can cure them. Supposedly, inflicting pain & suffering is for their own good. Somehow child abandonment eliminates sin and advances the Kingdom of God on Earth. Suicide is merely collateral damage – a reflection of the victim’s irritating stubbornness. (That is, it’s their own fault.)