Like many of you, I've read a lot of articles about Leelah Alcorn over the last few days. Some blame her parents. Some blame her religion. Some blame the sham treatment designed to cure what can't be cured. Groups that typically only discuss transgender issues on the Day of Remembrance are flocking to the microphone for a chance to speak. Some of those voices are predictably trite. Some are an equally predictable inspiration.
A week ago, no one knew Leelah's name. Now it's the focus of two petitions and countless blog posts. I think it's safe to say she marks a pivotal moment for the transgender community. It doesn't matter that she wasn't the only trans* suicide of 2014 or even the only one in December. Her poignant words penned in a moment of unspeakable anguish have sparked an eagerly-awaited flame...long may it burn!
|Photo by Shever|
The transgender community has spent decades as the invisible outcast among outcasts, shunned by their own LGBT family, by national organizations that treat the 'T' as an accessory, by activists who don't care enough to learn even the basics of what it is to be transgender. The truth is, most professed LGBT rights organizations don't give a damn about transgender people. The proof is in the military restrictions that only apply to trans soldiers; national outrage over bigoted bakers but silence over transgender washroom rights; a dozen groups created to address trans issues because no other organization took them seriously.
It's in the determined silence of the pro-LGBT press, covering a week of rugby players posing nude for gay rights and only a single article about a trans woman murdered while she pounded on a neighbor's door, screaming for help. It's in the fact that it took 34 years for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) to publicly admit the transgender community has urgent needs...and only after Hollywood addressed the issue first.
Fashionable as always, HRC.
Heartbroken and spurred by Leelah's suicide post, many trans activists and allies are calling on the community to step forward and demand what they should have had all along: respect.
I stand with them.
If you do not represent a safe place for transgender people in your life, on your blog, at your organization, drop the 'T'. If you can't publicly support the plight of the most harshly-abused and highly-targeted group in the Rainbow Community, it's time to demonstrate a little integrity and own that attitude. No more posers. No more passes for groups that wave the LGBT flag when they clearly only mean LG. No more tolerance of phony support by organizations that consider certain members of the LGBTQIA community more worthy of equality than others.
In a sea of professed support, Leelah thought she had nowhere to go. She is a symbol of our failure.
No more Leelahs.