The mother of a transgender teen who killed herself by stepping in front of an oncoming semi-truck insists she loved her child unconditionally, even though she and her husband’s Christian faith caused them to disapprove of her gender identity.
“We don’t support that, religiously,” Carla Alcorn told CNN. “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.”
Her 17-year-old child programmed a suicide note to publish Sunday on Tumblr, after the teen was struck by a tractor-trailer on Interstate 71 north of Cincinnati.
She signed the note with her birth name, Josh Alcorn, but crossed out the first name and replaced it with Leelah, the name she had chosen for herself.
That’s the first time she ever heard the teen use that name, Carla Alcorn said.
“He never said that name before,” she said.
The note explains in great detail the teen’s struggle with her gender identity, saying her parents strongly disapproved when she told them about it at 14 years old.
“(My mom) reacted extremely negatively, telling me that it was a phase, that I would never truly be a girl, that God doesn’t make mistakes, that I am wrong,” the teen said in the suicide note. “If you are reading this, parents, please don’t tell this to your kids. Even if you are Christian or are against transgender people don’t ever say that to someone, especially your kid. That won’t do anything but make them hate them self [sic]. That’s exactly what it did to me.”
The teen wrote that her parents sent her to Christian counselors who suggested she was selfish and wrong to wish to live as a woman.
Carla Alcorn said her child was depressed, and a psychiatrist prescribed medication that seemed to alleviate the teen’s struggle with gender identity.
“He just quit talking about it,” she said.
Carla Alcorn said she and her husband were deeply upset by the reaction toward them after their child’s suicide note was widely reported and shared on social media.
She said no service has been held for her child because protests have been threatened, and her husband said in a statement that the family wished to grieve in private.
“We love our son, Joshua, very much and are devastated by his death,” Doug Alcorn said in an email to WCPO-TV. “We have no desire to enter into a political storm or debate with people who did not know him. We wish to grieve in private. We harbor no ill will towards anyone … I simply do not wish our words to be used against us.”
An online petition drive has been launched urging the teen’s parents to honor their child’s wishes by memorializing her with the name Leelah Alcorn on her headstone.
Carla Alcorn did not address that request in the interview, but she referred to her child exclusively with her birth name and male pronouns throughout the conversation.
“He was an amazing musician and artist,” Carla Alcorn said. “He was an amazing boy.”