How can we let a murderer walk free? The amount of issues individuals face daily due to their gender identity is truly immense. Through my studies, I have become familiar with the issues that trans* individuals face daily due to their gender identity. In order to truly understand the issues that impede on the trans community, one must take a step back and look at the ways in which our society is constructed. Our everyday choices create and reinforce the societally created gender binary which can easily destroy the lives of those that do not fall into this binary. While there is much to talk about, I am going to focus on my views on issues with transgender youth that commit suicide.
Even though there are many ideas for how we can best support the transgender community and fight for their equality, there is not much talk as to how to stop the unsupportive members that are directly in the life of trans youth. Some of the most formative times for an individual’s identity is during their youth.
Those that identify as transgender often have a very hard time being under 18 and identifying as trans because of those that are in their life. For example, Leelah Alcorn, a transgender youth who committed suicide, had hate and disappointment thrown in her face every day, just because her family disagreed with her identity. In her suicide letter, she talks about how her parents would invalidate her identity constantly. They would only send her to Christian therapists, they would refuse to call her by the name she preferred and continued to call her Josh and tell her she was a boy, and they would constantly tell her that “God doesn’t make mistakes” and “it was a phase”.
It is extremely clear in Leelah’s suicide note that her parents and their constant degrading comments and invalidations are the reasons for her death. Had her parents been accepting and allowed her to be herself, Leelah would still be here with us today.
As sickening as all of this is, nothing is going to happen to these parental figures in her life. There is a need for a policy to be put into place that when it is blatantly clear that a child is committing suicide because of their parents constant denial of their gender identity. The parents should be able to be prosecuted.
Whether this be a lifetime or even a few months served in prison, I believe these parental figures need to pay the consequences of their actions. It’s not fair that they are the reason their child is dead, yet they walk free and continue on with their lives. They may feel sadness at their child’s death, but they continue to deny that they are the reason for this situation. Forcing them to reconcile with their actions will hopefully make them realize the harm they have caused, and will hopefully help them to realize why they are the scum of the earth, in my eyes.
One can argue that Leelah committed suicide, but in reality, her parents committed murder.