Over the holidays I learned that one of my many nieces is no longer a niece, but is now a nephew. This came on the heels of the horribly sad story of (Leelah) Josh Alcorn, the young trans woman who killed herself after years of psychological torture by her Christian parents.
Naturally my first thought was for the mental and physical health of my nephew. He’s a female to male transgender, which I understand is far more difficult surgically than the other way around. I learned about this from my sister, a Christian, the boy’s grandmother. After she told me the news, I told her about the tragedy of Leelah Alcorn and sent her this message.
Here’s a link to the article I told you about.
This is such a sad story, S____. We’d better all make sure L___ gets the support he needs.
Darwin Harmless (Not the name I use in actual correspondence)
You’re right that this is a terribly tragic story. But saying all Christians believe this crap is a bit like saying all Muslims are terrorists. As far as I know L___ has not met with this kind of cruelty from any member of our family and as far as I know you are the only non believer but this is off the topic.
I do not know how anyone can harbour that kind of ignorance in this day and age but sadly I know they do. L___ had the courage to come with his Mom to tell me how he felt, we had gone through the I am gay stage and I think that is because he did not know what the real issue was. I can not imagine the confusion these kids must feel. We humans are very visual in our perception. What we see in the wrapping is what it is to us.
When L____ told me his greatest fear was that the family would push him aside we all assured him that even if we did not understand all the issues he would face no one in the family would withdraw our support or love. Your cousin, K____, is probably the most educated and understanding. The rest of us will try to relate and support him anyway we can. I have asked L____ to also understand that the older the family member or friend is the harder it will be to understand how difficult the transition will be for him. I have asked him to take shock or ignorant questions as a lack of knowledge not rejection of him, that whether people understand or not he will always be loved and can come to us if he needs to hear that.
So far everyone has supported L____ – a few raised eyebrows but no one is inclined to be cruel. I think L_____ is very lucky. My heart bleeds for the ones whose family think punishment is going to cure someone of who they are. Aside from that, K____ and I have had many discussions about this issue. I really want to be sure that this is who L____ is because from an early age his parents, both wanting to make sure he was raised without gender identification, made it seem that identifying as a girl was a negative thing. I have seen his father ridicule anything girly. K____ feels that even with that kind of programing it would not be possible to change your natural instinct. Hope she is right.
L____ has gone through about three years of counselling and seems to be very happy with what he is doing. I guess the proof is in the pudding. As a girl he was a most annoying child, nasty in fact. Since he told everyone what he is doing he seems to be much happier and has become quite pleasant to be around. My only wish is that he finds his place in life and can cope with the issues that will arise. Whether we like it or not the human race is the nastiest beast on earth. We are capable of extreme cruelty and I doubt that will ever change.You can be sure that L____ has the support he needs. We do not need to completely understand what he is going through to stand behind him and up for him. Anyone being mean to L____ will deal with a whole wall of angry people. I am not surprised but very glad that you and R____ will stand with us.
To which I replied:
I have never been prouder of you than I am at this moment.
You are just a fine human being and I’m so happy that you are my sister.
If you have an email address or facebook contact for L_____, I wouldn’t mind lending my note of support.
Darwin Harmless (and R____)
P.S. I am sorry for the anti-Christian bias of the article I sent you. The fact is, the intolerance that drove this girl to suicide seems to be more associated with devout religious belief than otherwise, and in this case religious belief was a direct cause of the girl’s suffering. But I’m aware that most Christians would find that behaviour misguided and wrong. Some of my best friends and most, if not all, family members identify as Christians. I love them all. I just can’t connect with the belief system. It just doesn’t make any sense to me, as if they are talking another language when the dogma is explained. That may well be my failing. It’s been described to me like somebody who has absolutely no appreciation for music. Trying to explain music to such a person would be a waste of time.
And a final note from my sister:
Love you both
There is hope. We have a friend, actually an old friend of R____’s, who is a male to female transgendered. The funny thing is she’s still attracted to women, so she’s a lesbian. Go figure, eh. Anyway, she has a beautiful girlfriend and the two are just crazy about each other. She’s also surrounded by very supportive friends, mostly slightly older people who are all misfits to some extent themselves.
Like you said, the world is changing. Happiness is possible, even for those who have the hardest path to walk.
And there you have it. It feels so good that my family stands in such stark contrast to the loving Christian family that couldn’t accept Leelah Alcorn. And perhaps my family is more the norm, even among Christians. We can hope.