What Would Jesus Say To Someone Like Leelah Alcorn?1 -- By: Garrett Kell

Journal: Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Volume: JBMW 020:1 (Spring 2015)
Article: What Would Jesus Say To Someone Like Leelah Alcorn?1
Author: Garrett Kell


What Would Jesus Say To Someone Like Leelah Alcorn?1

Garrett Kell

Pastor
Delray Baptist Church
Arlington, Virginia

On December 28, 2014 a 17-year old high school student apparently committed suicide after a difficult journey with confusion over gender identity. In his suicide note, Josh Alcorn said that since he was 4 years old he felt like “a girl trapped inside a boy’s body.” Because of this Josh desired to be called “Leelah” and wished for people to relate to him as a woman. I will refer to Josh as “Leelah” in this article, but will also refer to him as a male, please bear with me, even if you passionately disagree with either of those choices.

This is an excerpt from Leelah’s final words posted shortly before taking his own life:

When I was 14, I learned what transgender meant and cried of happiness. After 10 years of confusion I finally understood who I was. I immediately told my mom, and she 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. 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.

My mom started taking to a therapist, but would only take me to Christian therapists, (who were all very biased) so I never actually got the therapy I needed to cure me of my depression. I only got more Christians telling me that I was selfish and wrong and that I should look to God for help.

The letter goes on with sad details that I hope none of us are ever tempted to write or left to read in the wake of losing a loved one in such a tragic way. Leelah’s final request was, “my death needs to mean something.” I could not agree more.

It is heart-wrenching to know that a young person was so overwhelmed with pain that their only response was to stop living. That should mean something. Whether you’re LGBT, Christian, liberal, conservative, religious, or otherwise—we are humans and a tragedy like this should lead us to stop, weep, pray, and take notice.

For me, it made me wonder what I would say to my own child if they felt the same way Leelah did. And more importantly, it made me wonder, what would Jesus say to someone who feels the same way Leelah did?

I do not know exactly what Jesus would say to them, but there are...

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