The Deadly Result of Conservative Christian Trans* Rejection

January 5, 2015

Trans* teenager Leelah Alcorn, of Ohio, recently walked out into traffic where she was hit by a truck and killed.  Her suicide note listed her conservative Christian family’s inability to accept her trans* identity (they reportedly had taken her to Christian therapists intent on coercing her to accept her gender identity as a male).

ABC reports Leelah’s online suicide note said, “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.”  (The note, posted on Tumblr, has since been removed.)

Writing on her Canyonwalker Connections blog, Kathy Baldock states:

“The Alcorns, along with tens of thousands of other parents of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender children, though not innocent, are products of a toxic blend of ignorance about human sexuality and gender identity, ideology, and tainted theology prevalent in conservative Christian communities.”

Read her post “Holding Religious Leaders Accountable for Damage to LGBT Youth.”

In his Stuff that Needs to Be Said blog, John Pavlovitz shares his grief over Leelah’s death. Writing about this tragedy in a post titled, “A 2015 Promise for Leelah Alcorn, and for All ‘Different’ Young People Who Never Made It Here,” Pavlovitz wrote:

“And so, for every gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender child who never made it to 2015, I will live, and speak, and love; for every young person who is just different enough to be bullied to the point of leaving.

“As a person of faith, I believe that is where Jesus calls me; to protect the vulnerable and harassed from those blind with self-righteousness.

“I’ll stand between those hurting kids and the stone-throwers, and gladly bear upon my own shoulders, the ridicule, and anger, and hatred that they and others have endured; in the hope that at the end of this year, so many beautiful, original, innocent young lives will still be here to see the calendar change.”

Read his full post here.


Read “7 Deadly Sins Parents Commit Against Their Transgender Kids” from one of our own EEWC-Christian Feminism Today members, Susan Cottrell, writing on her FreedHearts blog on Patheos.

Read or listen to “Waters of solidarity: In remembrance of Leelah Alcorn,” a sermon delivered by EEWC-Christian Feminism Today member, Rev. Danyelle Ditmer, and available in written and audio format on the RMN Blog.

For additional information about Leelah Alcorn’s death, see this essay from Salon and this article from CNN.

A petition advocating legal prohibitions against “transgender conversion therapy” has already gained more than a quarter of a million signatures.  View the petition here.

Posted by Marg Herder and Letha Dawson Scanzoni 

Letha Dawson Scanzoni
Letha Dawson Scanzoni (1935-2024) was an independent scholar, writer, and editor, and the author or coauthor of nine books. In 1978, she and Virginia Ramey Mollenkott wrote Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?, one of the earliest books urging evangelical Christians to rethink their views on homosexuality (updated edition, 1994, HarperOne). More recently, Letha coauthored (with social psychologist David G. Myers) What God Has Joined Together: The Christian Case for Gay Marriage (HarperOne, 2005 and 2006). Another of Letha’s most well-known books is All We’re Meant to Be: Biblical Feminism for Today, coauthored with Nancy A. Hardesty (Word Books, 1974; revised edition, Abingdon, 1986; updated and expanded edition, Eerdmans, 1992). Letha served as editor of Christian Feminism Today in both its former print edition (EEWC Update) and its website for 19 years until her retirement in December 2013.


  1. Leelah’s mother was right about one thing: “God doesn’t make mistakes.”

    It is beyond unfortunate that she couldn’t understand that Leelah was only proclaiming to be who God created Leelah to be: a trans human.

    May Mrs. Alcorn be able to forgive herself when she realizes her horrible mistake, and may other Christians learn to love those who God creates without qualification or judgment. ALL of us.



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