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Hang On, It Does Get Better: On Leelah Alcorn’s Suicide Note

Leelah Alcorn Transgender TeenBefore dawn on Dec. 28, 2014, a transgender 17-year-old in Ohio allegedly wrote a suicide note on her blog, walked to Interstate 71 and stepped in front of a tractor-trailer.

“Please don’t be sad, it’s for the better. The life I would’ve lived isn’t worth living in … because I’m transgender,” Leelah Alcorn wrote on her blog.

Leelah’s story has gained worldwide attention with Twitter users under the hashtag #LeelahAlcorn calling for acceptance and an end to the stigma surrounding gender nonconformity. But there is another group out there, the younger members of the LGBT community who need to know definitively that life does get better. It will get better.

In her suicide blog post Leelah described her parents’ inability to accept her gender identity and desire to begin transition therapy. Her mother allegedly sent her to Christian therapists who advised her to “look to God for help.”

“Either I live the rest of my life as a lonely man who wishes he were a woman or I live my life as a lonelier woman who hates herself,” she wrote. “There’s no winning. There’s no way out. I’m sad enough already, I don’t need my life to get any worse. People say ‘it gets better’ but that isn’t true in my case. It gets worse. Each day I get worse.”

I attempted suicide three times before I was 18 years old, the first time at age 12. I went to an all-girls Catholic school when I was a teenager. I started having romantic relationships with other girls when I was 13. I wasn’t allowed to date. Missed my prom. I didn’t come out until adulthood and found support mostly in friends, not family.

Years later, when I dated a man for the first time in my life, I lost many of my gay friends. You see, much like the trans community, bisexuals get labeled “indecisive” and “confused.” I can explain that gender means nothing to me in romantic relationships. I can say it 20 different ways in whatever language you like, but it doesn’t matter to some people. Sexual orientation was clear-cut for them, absolute. To them, the fact that I don’t have a sexual preference makes me defective, weird, and not a part of their club.

For bisexual and transgender people there is a large part of our identity that we may want to share with other people, but we can’t because it may not seem relevant (my husband’s aunt doesn’t need to know I dated women, right?) or it may not be helpful (maybe I don’t want my coworkers thinking about my sexuality). Our journey in life has made us who we are and not communicating that feels like we’re denying our true self, still leaving something in the closet.

When you’re bisexual, every time you split up with an opposite-sex partner, they tell people you’re gay. When you split up with a same-sex partner they say, “Oh she’s straight, she was just being sexually adventurous, toying with being gay.” You even feel robbed of your “coming out” story. My friend joked once, “Do you mean when you came out as gay or when you came out as bi?”

If there’s anything I’ve learned it’s this: People don’t like change. You can’t get them to embrace it. You can’t get them to love it. But they can live with it; they always do.

If you’re a teen who identifies as LGBT, I promise it will get better. One day you will be free, you will belong to yourself legally, and you can go anywhere and be anything. You will be yourself completely and you will find people who will accept that wholly and truly without judgment.

Prune out the negativity in your life. You may lose relationships and they may never be mended, but it’s not your fault. For some people their coming out story has a “trail of dead” in its wake, but being yourself isn’t meant to push people out of your life. None of us came out thinking, “Gee I hope my best friend refuses to embrace who I am.” Coming out isn’t a story of loss, it’s a story of truth.

It won’t be easy. Imagine if everyone had to enter adulthood without the support and guidance of their parents. It takes vigilance. You have to hang on to whatever semblance of self-respect you have and use it to build yourself up. Tell your story; foster those you meet who are going through the same thing.

You are a valuable person who deserves happiness and love. Most of all, you deserve to be yourself, exactly who you are, precisely how you feel. There’s no debating a feeling. You will get there. There are many of us in the world who support you and want to see you be exactly what you are.

Hang On, It Does Get Better: On Leelah Alcorn’s Suicide Note


Sarah Newman, MA, MFA

Sarah Newman is the managing editor and associate publisher of PsychCentral and the founding editor-in-chief of the Poydras Review. She is also the cohost of the podcast Excuse Me, I Have Concerns where she discusses personal boundaries, personality and other psychology topics.


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APA Reference
Newman, S. (2018). Hang On, It Does Get Better: On Leelah Alcorn’s Suicide Note. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 24, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/blog/hang-on-it-does-get-better-on-leelah-alcorns-suicide-note/
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Last updated: 8 Jul 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
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