Being trans, sadly I know that suicide is nothing new in our community.
Out of the hundreds of LGBT deaths each year, transgender teens are consistently the highest in number. These deaths always spark talks of “suicide prevention” or “depression,” but they always miss the mark, they always miss the actual problem.
Leelah Alcorn, 17, aptly called out the root cause in her suicide note — which published hours after she walked in front of a tractor-trailer on Interstate 71 in Ohio and was killed — targeting society and the horrible way people treat each other every day. She brought up a conversation that should have come up long, long ago.
People need to stop telling other people how to live their lives, how to feel, who to be,
so I’m penning an open letter to Leelah’s parents, to every parent.
To whom it may concern,
You need to accept your children the way that they are. I’d love to stop there, but I’ll detail for you. I know that you had hopes and dreams and expectations for your child, but all you can do is support and influence, you CANNOT live their lives for them. When they walk out of the door, you just have to trust that your influence will ensure that they make good decisions and become a good person.
If your child feels like they are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer or anything else, you need to be there for them. Show them they are loved, help them if they ask for it, be their PARENTS. From birth until they leave home, you are their most-trusted source in the world. Any parent who thinks their children’s lives are an embarrassment or disappointment are in for quite the wake-up call: You aren’t the first!
Ask yourselves this: Have you lived up to all of your parents expectations? Are you perfect? I’ll go on a limb and bet that the answer in “NO.” Not everything is going to go according to your plan whether you like it or not, those are just life’s rules. Think of how cruel the world can be, what life might be like for someone who is different in any way — do you really want to be your child’s first bully?
Don’t get so wrapped up in your own issues that you forget that you made a life you are responsible for loving and nurturing into adulthood. Did you ever stop to think that the world wouldn’t be so cruel if everyone had that loving support system? It starts with you. Love your children, you mean everything to them. And for those of you who find my message inconceivable and cannot fathom loving your children unconditionally, please do me and civilized society the favor of skipping parenthood.
Rest In Power, Leelah
Arisce Wanzer is a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine.