I was recently on the Scott Sloan show on 700WLW in Ohio to talk about Leelah Alcorn and how parents should deal with their children revealing that they are trans. This is a pretty big deal for me — it’s a nationally syndicated show that reaches a huge audience. Sloan misgenders Leelah a couple times in the intro, but I get the sense from this, and other things that I’ve listened to, that he’s someone who’s more or less on the right side of the issue and trying to make it palatable to what he senses Middle America to be. For those who don’t know, Leelah Alcorn was a trans teen who killed herself last month in response to being isolated from her friends, forced into Christian therapy that was meant to make her be cisgender, and denied the ability to start to transition.
My major point is that when children need medical care that their parents don’t believe in, the state intervenes to ensure that those children get the care that they need. Jehovah’s Witness parents don’t get to deny their children blood transfusions, parents that believe in homeopathy don’t get to deny their children chemotherapy. We don’t prosecute those parents for child abuse, unless the child dies from medical neglect, but we also don’t let them destroy their children because of their personal beliefs in unscientific nonsense that will lead to the deaths of their children.
When parents deny proper care to children who aren’t cisgender, they are contributing to a state in which that child is guaranteed to suffer and may die. Suicide is the third most common cause of death for teens, but it’s even more common for transgender youth. In cases like Leelah Alcorn’s, it is often predictable and can be preventable. 41% of those who identify as trans will attempt suicide in their life and that number jumps much higher, into the 70-80% or higher, if they are mistreated by their family, are denied the ability to get medical treatment, are out as a teen, and suffer from depression or other mental health conditions, as Leelah was and did. The national average for suicide attempts, by the way, is around 5%. For LGB people, it’s 10-20%.