Remembering Leelah

Twas ever, i fear, going to end thus. The most likely sorry outcome from the Leelah Alcorn saga is that, her wishes ignored in life, she is now about to be erased by her family a second time, in death.

For far from burying Leelah as herself, it seems likely that her parents would prefer to leave no physical memorial to their daughter.

How else, though, could this ever possibly have turned out?

A polite request

On Wednesday i wrote a piece asking – politely – that those responsible for Leelah’s funeral at least allow her one last dignity: to be remembered in death not as some boy she was not, but as herself. What was i thinking?

I understood how difficult this might be for them. I get, from personal experience, how awful such a loss is (in my own case, the loss not of a child, but of a brother): get the impact it has on families; and will not be joining in the orgy of vilification even now going on around Leelah’s parents.

I do not wish that they suffer more, since i am sure they are already doing that: though as a practising Catholic, i find it hard to understand how they can be so sure of their rightness in all this. Why they are not, apparently, asking more questions of themselves.

And i guess i had some sort of romanticised Hollywood vision of Leelah’s funeral. You know the sort of film: undoubtedly it would feature Meryl Streep or Susan Sarandon in the role of the older woman. There would be a family rift: harsh words spoken; tragic consequences. Yet, in the final reel, some resolution, some compromise would nonetheless be found.

I admit it. I am an optimist.

Did i expect the parents to prostrate themselves and rend their garments? Did i expect them to go, suddenly, publically: “OMG! We made a terrible mistake! Poor Leelah!!!”

I don’t know what i expected beyond, maybe that they would find a way to satisfy not just their sour loveless version of christianity, but also the memories of their child.

Rude rebuff

Some hope. Speaking to CNN yesterday, Leelah’s mother said: “We don’t support that {gender transition}, religiously. 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.”

No change there, then.

CNN further reports: “there has not been a service for the teen because people have threatened to protest”.

Ah, yes. That’s the trans community all over: it cannot possibly be trusted to organise a respectful protest. So let’s blame THEM for Leelah not getting a service.

A memorial for Leelah

But where will it stop? What memorial will be erected to her? For, without doubt, any and every memorial erected to a boy called Joshua will be respectfully amended, as leelah did in her final note, with the crossing out of that name and insertion of her own.

So if there are are fears of such a thing, and if there is not the money to place said memorial behind barbed wire and police guard, there cannot be one. At least not one erected by the family.

Sad. So very, very sad.

In the end, perhaps, there can be only one response to this: for the trans and maybe also wider LGB communities to subscribe to a monument of their own for Leelah. One that she might have approved of and one that, in time, will become a place where those of her family who loved her for who she was – and not for who they wanted her to be – can join the rest of the world in mourning her.

About janefae

On my way from here to there
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