The mother of Leelah Alcorn, the transgender teen who committed suicide after her parents refused to accept her identity, has spoken out saying that she and her husband did not "support" their child's transgender orientation.
"We don't support that, religiously," Leelah's mother told CNN Wednesday. "But we told him that we loved him unconditionally. We loved him no matter what. I loved my son. People need to know that I loved him. He was a good kid, a good boy."
Using masculine pronouns to talk about Leelah throughout the interview, Carla Alcorn has faced backlash in the wake of her daughter's death for consistently referring to Leelah as "Joshua," her legal name. In her suicide note, dated to publish on her Tumblr after she walked in front of a truck in the middle of the night, Leelah called attention to the issues transgender people face. She also wrote that she hoped her death would "mean something." The Tumblr page has since been taken down.
Her letter also detailed how her parents' actions, which included pulling her out of school and taking away her electronics, almost led her to suicide, but once her parents let her see her friends again, she became happy. Unfortunately, however, the feeling didn't last.
"The only way I will rest in peace is if one day transgender people aren't treated the way I was...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 f--ked up' and fix it."
"Fix society," she pleaded. "Please."
She signed the note, "(Leelah)
In the interview with CNN, her mother said that she and her husband couldn't afford the surgery required to transition. Their decision to ban Leelah from social media, she said, stemmed from her viewing "inappropriate material." Leelah's death and note have caused outrage from people on the Internet and have even turned into hate notes against her parents.
Carla told the network that people have been calling her and her husband "horrible people" for the way they handled their daughter, which included conversion therapy.
About two months before her death, Leelah reached out for help on Reddit, asking users to help her understand whether or not she was facing abuse at the hands of her parents. After several users commented back, she posted, "I don't think it's considered abuse, just s--tty parenting."
If you or someone you know needs help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Transgender people who need someone to talk to can also call the Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860 or the Trevor Project at 866-488-7386.