KINGS MILL, Ohio (Christian Examiner) -- "Leelah" Joshua Ryan Alcorn, a troubled transgender teen, committed suicide by jumping in front of a tractor-trailer Sunday. The 17-year-old youth left behind a suicide note complaining that his Christian parents did not support his desire to become a woman, among other things.
Now transsexual activists are exploiting Alcorn's death to push their cause, blaming the parents while igoring other statements in the youth's death wish that showed he was troubled beyond being gender confused. They also dismiss the research showing Alcorn's parents were right to resist his requests for sex-reassignment surgery.
Alcorn walked onto Interstate 71 in Warren County, Ohio, at about 2:20 a.m. and suddenly leapt into the path of the truck, giving the driver no opportunity to avoid hitting him, according to WCPO news. The driver, who was wearing his seatbelt at the time and not harmed, has not been charged in the teen's death.
Alcorn had a Tumblr account where he described himself as the "transgender queen of hell" and "Satan's wifey." He set up a post labeled "Suicide Note" and in it described the conflicts he had with his Christian parents, Carla and Doug Alcorn.
"I feel like a girl trapped in a boy's body, and I've felt that way every since I was 4," he wrote. When he told his mother, though, he said 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."
Alcorn described his visits to Christian therapists as "very biased" and said his parents denied his request to begin transitioning to a woman. He also said when he decided to come out as a homosexual to his schoolmates, his mom and dad pulled him out of school, and, took away his phone and Internet access for five months.
After Alcorn received his phone and laptop back from his parents, he decided to kill himself, according to the Tumblr post.
"I'm never going to be happy with the way I look or sound. I'm never going to have enough friends to satisfy me. I'm never going to have enough love to satisfy me," the teen wrote. "That's the gist of it, that's why I feel like killing myself."
The note has since gone viral, with hashtags #LeelahAlcorn and #protecttranskids being circulated widely on Twitter and other social media. Alcorn's mother asked for support on her Facebook page, but the post was later deleted.
But despite the uproar by activists, a venerated psychiatrist and researcher who led Johns Hopkins University to cease performing controversial sex-reassignment surgeries in 1979, says "'sex change' is biologically impossible" and transsexualism is a "mental disorder that deserves understanding, treatment and prevention."
Paul R. McHugh is the University Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University, and served as Psychiatrist-in-Chief at the Johns Hopkins Hospital from 1975–2001. In an article published June 12 in the Wall Street Journal he said a transsexual's feeling of gender is "in one's mind" and difficult to confront when the individual seeks tolerance and affirmation of "this 'personal truth.'"
McHugh points to peer-reviewed science, however, to make the point that many times these feelings about gender confusion simply go away.
"When children who reported transgender feelings were tracked without medical or surgical treatment at both Vanderbilt University and London's Portman Clinic, 70 percent - 80 percent of them spontaneously lost those feelings," he said. "Some 25 percent did have persisting feelings; what differentiates those individuals remains to be discerned."
Moreover, he said individuals who have had the surgery are no better off than before the procedure, referencing research by the prestigious Karolinska Institute in Sweden.
In a long-term study that followed 324 people who had sex-reassignment surgery, researchers found transgender individuals began to experience increasing mental difficulties about 10 years after having the surgery. Notably, this cohort experienced a suicide mortality rate almost 20 times more than the nontransgender population.
McHugh's conclusion is "The high suicide rate certainly challenges the surgery prescription."
In Alcorn's suicide post, he said he was glad to connect back with his friends when his phone and Internet priveleges were restored, and that "they were extremely excited to see me and talk to me, but only at first."
"Eventually they realized they didn't actually give a [s---] about me, and I felt even lonelier than I did before. The only friends I thought I had only liked me because they saw me five times a week," he wrote. "After a summer of having almost no friends plus the weight of having to think about college, save money for moving out, keep my grades up, go to church each week and feel like [s---] because everyone there is against everything I live for, I have decided I've had enough."
He was a troubled teen in more ways than his confusion about gender.
The support of science may help Alcorn's parents deal with their decision to help their son work through the problem rather than allow him to transition to a woman. But the information most certainly will not fill the void left by his death.
"My sweet 16-year-old son, Joshua Ryan Alcorn went home to Heaven this morning," Carla Alcorn wrote on Facebook. "Thank for the messages and kindness and concern you have sent our way. Please continue to keep us in your prayers."