Religion over children

Where to start? Leelah‘s Alcorn story is a sad one, with a sad ending. And it‘s spread around the world as a lesson to those who oppress fragile teenagers who are coming to terms with their own identity. Teenagers who need to be told things will be alright, not that they‘re wrong.

It‘s a sad story indeed, but what it isn‘t is unique. Transgender and gender-nonconforming people are almost nine times more likely to attempt suicide than average, according to a survey released in the United States in 2011.

The study shows that while the overall US average for lifetime suicide attempts is 4.6%, transgender and non-genderconforming people score a whopping 41% average.

Let‘s think about that: Four out of ten will attempt to take their own life at least once. Almost half.

And those are not the highest rates you can find for this demographic in similar studies. Also, keep in mind that those numbers are based on the people who lived to tell. Some say that those who succeed, like Leelah, account for up to 31% of the Transgender population.

And that‘s not counting those who choose to do so without ever saying why – a group of people whose number we may never know, but should never be ignored in this context.

But why?

Before we try to understand Leelah‘s case, let‘s wonder a little about WHY transgender and non-genderconforming people do commit suicide.

Transgender Discrimination Infographic 2014 (K. Charles Moore).
Transgender Discrimination Infographic 2014 (K. Charles Moore).

The study mentioned above identifies certain factors that can increase the chance of a suicide attempt, such as race, income, being „out“, having HIV, having a disability, being harassed or bullied at school or work, being denied medical treatment, suffering physical or sexual violence at work, school or by law enforcement, being cut off or ignored by family and … being young.

You see, being a teenager is difficult for most people. You may remember it yourself. Teenagers go through a lot of physical and mental changes and many are very self-aware. It is common amongst them to wish to fit in, and many are willing to go to great lengths to do so. They are trying to identify who they are. What it means to be „them“ and what sort of life they want to live. At the same time, they are aggressive and judgemental towards each other, at the very years they are most sensitive to criticism. It‘s not easy growing up, and building a self-image, and many teens struggle with it as is.

Now imagine yourself as a teenager, and that you know deep down that you are different. You are, if you will, a caterpillar waiting to become a butterfly (I never really liked that metaphor, but it works well enough to make this point), and you know that you will need to rebuild your self-image once you will. In essence, you will reset it, and this means resetting your sence of self-worth as well (at least partly), because you will no longer base that on your „old self“. What it means is that you are breaking down the walls you‘ve built over the years to protect yourself.

A recipe for disaster?

Being a teenager is hard. Being a transgender teenager, seeing everyone around you developing into what they‘re meant to be, except for yourself – that‘s excruciatingly hard. You will need the support of everyone around you, especially your family and closest friends. You will be vulnerable, and subject, to criticism, ridicule, hatred, violence and discrimination. This is what we call transphobia and it is very, very, very real. And without a support system to prevent the newly laid building blocks of your self-image to crumble down, how can this end but in one way?

Being a teenager is tough. Being a transgender teenager is excrutiatingly hard.
Being a teenager is tough. Being a transgender teenager is extremly hard.

And even though teens may have pulled the shortest straw in this sence, this is also the daily reality of countless adult trans people around the world.

So when suicide rates amongst transgendered people are used to support the theory that gender-reassignment treatment doesn‘t work, or that the whole notion of being transgender is in fact just a serious mental illness, you‘re not even being served a half truth. By same method, you can probably prove that being alive is a mental illness, because that‘s the only common denominator for everyone who‘s ever committed suicide.

What? You don‘t think people are using suicide rates to prove these points? Think again. Click here. And then click here.

Transgender suicide rates are high because life isn‘t always easy if you are transgender. Even if you have access to the desired medical treatment.

The death of Leelah Alcorn

What a waste. A young life ended because of lack of support. I don‘t claim to be an expert, but reading through her suicide note (that she posted on Tumblr, but was deleted) again and again, it is obvious to me that she lacked support. Not only from her family, as we‘ll get into in a bit, but also from her friends. To me, it looks like this led to a great sense of hopelessness, and may even have contributed to depression and anxiety. It‘s not a pretty picture you unveil, reading that note.

When Leelah was fourteen, she discovered the missing piece of a puzzle she had been struggling with.

Leelah Alcorn cited transphobia and discrimination as a key reason behind her decision to commit suicide.
Leelah Alcorn cited transphobia and discrimination as a key reason behind her decision to commit suicide last December.

„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. That’s exactly what it did to me.“

Gradually, her parents seem to have taken a stance against her in regards to her identity, and punished her for acting out in search of herself.

Although the reaction from my friends was positive, my parents were pissed. They felt like I was attacking their image, and that I was an embarrassment to them. They wanted me to be their perfect little straight christian boy, and that’s obviously not what I wanted.

So they took me out of public school, took away my laptop and phone, and forbid me of getting on any sort of social media, completely isolating me from my friends. This was probably the part of my life when I was the most depressed, and I’m surprised I didn’t kill myself. I was completely alone for 5 months. No friends, no support, no love. Just my parent’s disappointment and the cruelty of loneliness.“

Keep in mind what I wrote earlier about the fragile life of a teenager. How can you not see a disaster in the making here?

Unfortunately, it seems the answer lies in the religious believes of Leelah‘s parents. In her mother‘s words:

„We don’t support that, religiously. But we told him that we loved him unconditionally. We loved him no matter what. I loved my son. People need to know that I loved him. He was a good kid, a good boy.“

The parents have taken some heavy hits because of this and are being blamed for Leelah‘s death. It is a dangerous path to go down, but I can‘t help but to think the blame is placed accurately.

How do you choose God over your children?

How can you tell your own child that their core sense of self is wrong, because a supreme entity „doesn‘t make mistakes“? Apart from the damage done by maintaining that Leelah was wrong, she also had to live with her being a „mistake“.

Before I go on, I think I need to clarify something, for honesty‘s sake: I am an atheist. I‘m happy for those who find personal comfort, guidance or satisfaction in faith, and I have no trouble with others having something to believe in. But I strongly oppose to any form of oppression in the name of religion.

If it seems like I‘m lashing out towards religion in general in this article, that is not the case. I will assume that the majority of people are nice. You know, people like you or me – we get along nicely with each other, don‘t we? But then, there are these people:

According to Gay Star News Facebook recently took down a "community" set up in the sole purpose "of mocking Leelah Alcorn and urging transpeople to kill themselves. Activists are concerned that pages of this kind are part of a wieder backlash brought on by sympathy for Leelah." Photo by Almonroth.
According to Gay Star News Facebook recently took down a “community” set up in the sole purpose “of mocking Leelah Alcorn and urging transpeople to kill themselves. Activists are concerned that pages of this kind are part of a wider backlash brought on by sympathy for Leelah.” Photo by Almonroth.

Mission: America published a flyer, teaching middle school children to hate gay people.

Amy Orr-Ewing explains why Christians shouldn‘t hate homosexuals, even though they‘re really really bad and are gay by choise.

Russel D. Moore says that you must stick to what is handed down to you, and therefore it is a sin to correct ones gender.

The Christian Family Coalition sees transgender people as child predators, and wants to deny them access to … bathrooms?

Some common lies told by conservative hate groups.

And, finally:

Sarah Ditum dosn‘t belive Leelah Alcorn was a good enough source to say why she took her own life.

You see, there is a red thread going through this all: „I know what you are, better than you do yourself, because I have an old book.“ And this is exactly what Leelah‘s parents did. They told her she was wrong, in all and any way, because they believed the book didn‘t agree with the path laid in front of Leelah. They told her see was „choosing“ something they „knew“ was wrong.

Try this: „Stop being so short! It‘s wrong! Everyone around you is tall and thus it is what is right, so you shouldn‘t choose to be short!“

And now imagine you kick one of your children out of the house for being short, because a book says that some ancient people said it was bad to be short. How do you do that? How do you choose your God over your children, when it is so obvious that your children need you? That they are drowning and you are their lifeboat?

What kind of person do you have to be to do that? Is this acceptable in the human society?

Even though her mother says she loved „him“, it is obvious (even by that very statement) her parents didn‘t support her. And what kind of love is without support? As a parent I can not understand this cruelty. And as an atheist, I do hope people of religion struggle with it too.

I don‘t know how big a percentage this makes up of Leelah‘s decision to step in front of a moving tractor trailer to end her life at only 17, but I‘m guessing it‘s a considerable number.

Forced into desperation

Having being banned from all social interactions, as a punishment for being trans, Leelah seems to have lost the hope she found when she was fourteen.

„I have decided I’ve had enough. I’m never going to transition successfully, even when I move out. 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. I’m never going to find a man who loves me. I’m never going to be happy. 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. 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.“

adsf
When Leelah was alive her parents told her she was wrong in all and any way. After her death they still refer to her as their son.

Oh, but it didn‘t have to play out like that. That is the real tragedy. Leelah could have transitioned later in life. She could have gained friends. She could have loved and been loved. She could have been successful in her own opinion. She could have won.

Even though it is true that an early transition (including hormone replacement therapy and sometimes gender correction surgery) is more „successfull“ in the sense that Leelah would not have gotten as masculine over the years, there are many stories of transwomen who have transitioned late, but are happy in their own skin. In relationships. Surrounded by friends. Supported. Loved.

Granted, there are also stories of the opposite, but Leelah had no way of knowing which would come true for her. She had been deprived of hope, forced into desperation. She didn‘t see any light through the darkness of the current situation. Someone had turned it off.

And she‘s not the only one left alone in the dark.

Leelah‘s wish

In the last lines of the last letter Leelah ever wrote, she asked the readers to fix society. She asks for enlightenment and education about gender and transgender people. In my opinion, she has already succeeded in this, as the news of her death have gone wide and far. We must never forget, and we must continue to tell her story, to educate those around us.

Candles placed against a wall following the Trafalgar Square vigil in memory of Leelah Alcorn.
Candles placed against a wall following the Trafalgar Square vigil in memory of Leelah.

My fear is that because of the obstacles she faced at home, she missed out on the opportunity to learn more about herself.

In many countries, transgender people form some sort of community, that offers help and information to it‘s members. When you are taking the first steps out of your own shadow, you can reach out and get help and support. And more importantly, get a confirmation that it doesn‘t have to be all bad. Transgender people often share stories with each other, of struggle and difficulties, but also of good things, positive things. Stories of success.

I really wish Leelah had been encouraged to make such contact, instead of being told she was wrong. Who knows, it might have been enough to get her through the difficulties and into adulthood. She might have had a wonderful life. We might never have heard of her.

„The only way I will rest in peace is if one day transgender people aren’t treated the way I was, they’re treated like humans, with valid feelings and human rights. Gender needs to be taught about in schools, the earlier the better. My death needs to mean something. My death needs to be counted in the number of transgender people who commit suicide this year. I want someone to look at that number and say ‘that’s f***ed up’ and fix it. Fix society. Please.

Goodbye,
(Leelah) Josh Alcorn“

The Hamburger Factory
- gourmet burgers

Ok. You’re in Iceland. Most likely for the first time.

You will probably bathe in the Blue Lagoon and take a road trip to Gullfoss and
Geysir. That’s all well and good. But neither Geysir’s nor waterfalls are
something you eat. That’s why we have 15 brilliant and creative hamburgers at
The Hamburger Factory. And they are all perfectly square. Don’t miss out on
Iceland’s most beloved hamburgers.

The Hamburger Factory is Iceland’s most innovative gourmet burger chain.
Packed with burger-craving customers since it’s opening in 2010, among the
regulars is Iceland’s best known fisherman, Eric Clapton. In our restaurants we
welcome tourists with our newspaper like menu and smiley service. They are
packed with fun items and memorable connections to Icelandic pop culture.

Locations:

Omnom Chocolate
- award-winning chocolate maker

    Omnom Chocolate is an Icelandic craft chocolate company based in Reykjavík. We produce handcrafted chocolate from organic cacao beans sourced ethically and sustainably. We’ve developed direct relationships to create premium chocolate with fine flavor cacao beans.

    Our creative flavors are carefully crafted by meticulous chocolate makers. The cacao beans are roasted, winnowed, ground, and refined into melty-smooth chocolate.

    Omnom’s process is one of constant exploration, invention, and experimentation. If it doesn’t please us, if something isn’t absolutely delicious, there’s no reason to be doing it. So, we always start with our taste buds and follow our instincts. Our team searches for the finest ingredients in the world and new ways to improve chocolate. This obsession with knowing where our ingredients come from has led us around the corner to dairy farms in the Icelandic countryside and all the way to rainforest cacao farms of Nicaragua.

    In only a few short years, we’ve grown from our 50 sq. m. petrol station space and become an award-winning chocolate maker. Now, with our headquarters in 101 Reykjavík, our chocolate is sent out around Iceland and all over the world.

    At the end of the day, our goal is to make chocolate.

     

    Alfred’s Apartments
    - gay owned an operated

      Alfred’s Apartments and Alfred’s Studios is a gay operated and owned accommodation in the heart of Reykjavik.

      Alfred’s Apartments offers spacious apartments at a good price located just around the corner from Laugavegur shopping street. You can choose the apartment starting from a Small Studio for 2 persons to a large One-bedroom Apartment with balcony for 5 persons.

      Their staff will ensure your comfort during the stay and provide the most updated information about the city, gay and night life in Reykjavik.

      Each apartment has a private bathroom with a shower, fully equipped kitchen and free Wi-Fi. Guests can buy groceries at the local grocery store 50 meters from the apartments. Because of their very central location, numerous shops, restaurants and cafés are available in the surrounding area. The Church of Hallgrimur is located 350 m from the apartments, a tourist agency is just 50 m away and the nearest gay bar is less than 5 minutes walking distance.

      Laekur hostel
      In the hostel we have dorms for 4-8 persons with shared kitchen and bathroom facilities. The rooms are furnished with free internet, lockers, and a USB charger by each bed. The beds have linen provided and you can rent a towel in the cafe on the ground floor for 5 EUR.

      All the dorms are mixed with both genders. You can also book a whole room with 4-8 bunker beds.

      Blue Lagoon
      - a world of wonder

      Named by National Geographic as one of the 25 Wonders of the World, the Blue Lagoon is a shimmering expanse of warmth, relaxation, and rejuvenation. Its unique geothermal seawater comes from 2000 meters within the earth where sea and fresh water converge in a tectonic frontier of porous lava and searing heat. Propelled by extreme pressure, the water ascends to the earth’s surface, emerging enriched with silica, algae, and minerals: the elements that endow Blue Lagoon geothermal seawater with its radiant, healing properties.

      From its humble beginnings in the shadows of a geothermal power plant, Blue Lagoon has evolved into a world of wonder, now encompassing a hotel, a restaurant, a luxury lounge, a renowned line of skin care, a research center, in-water massage, and a wealth of spa and refreshment facilities.

      Achieving harmony with the volcanic landscape of Iceland’s Reykjanes lava plain, the lagoon and its surrounding architecture embody the unification of the man-made and the natural, and adhere to the highest principles of sustainability.

      Blue Lagoon. A wonder of the world. A world of wonder.

      Whales of Iceland
      - larger than life

      Whales of Iceland is the largest whale exhibition in Europe (and perhaps even the world), where guests can learn about the giants of the sea in a calm and modern environment. The permanent exhibition features whales like guests have never seen them before. It is truly a giant experience.

      Landsbankinn
      - leading financial institution

      Landsbankinn is a leading Icelandic financial institution. It offers a full range of financial services and is the market leader in the Icelandic financial service sector with the largest branch network.

      The present bank was established on 7 October 2008 but the history of its predecessor dates back to 1886. The bank is owned by the National Treasury of Iceland, which holds 98.2% of its share capital, and other shareholders who own 1.8%.

      Landsbankinn’s strategy is to provide comprehensive financial services that meet customer’s needs. It emphasizes providing exemplary service to customers, developing e-banking for their convenience, increasing the efficiency of support functions, modernizing its technology and ensuring effective utilization of its balance sheet.

      The bank’s vision is to be exemplary and its role is to be a trusted financial partner.

      Special emphasis is placed on promoting a performance-oriented culture in the bank. To follow up on the implementation of this strategy, the bank has defined key goals which are measured regularly to determine progress. These goals include, for example, customer satisfaction and loyalty, profitability, cost efficiency and the correlation between risk appetite and employee satisfaction.

      Landsbankinn wishes to lead the development of a sustainable society in Iceland by integrating economic, social and environmental concerns in its operations. The Bank aims to ensure that both its owners and society at large benefit from its activities.

      It intends to achieve this aim by building solid infrastructure and a strong team of 1.100 employees, by listening to its customers and by respecting and encouraging its employees to actively participate in their community. Landsbankinn was a founding member of Festa, a Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility, and is a member of the UN Global Compact.

      Landsbankinn has been a proud sponsor of the Reykjavik Pride since it was first celebrated in Iceland.

      Dohop
      - get inspired

      Dohop allows people to find the cheapest flights available with just one click. Founded in Reykjavik in 2004, it is the only Icelandic company of its kind and quickly became the go-to tool for finding cheap flights among the locals. Dohop finds the best deals among hundreds of different airlines and online travel agencies, to make sure that the user is getting the cheapest price. Dohop also offers hotel and car rental search engines, so users can make all of their travel bookings from a single website.

      Dohop‘s specialty is finding so-called “self-connect” flight options, which can save travelers money by booking a ticket through two or more different airlines. The ability to look for these self-connect option is what sets Dohop apart from its competition, as it can save people hundreds of dollars on certain routes.

      More recently, Dohop has developed a unique product called Dohop Go!, which allows users to check for the cheapest available flights from their home airport. This tool is perfect for those who are looking for travel inspiration but are not willing to overpay for their flight ticket. Dohop Go! is now available in the Dohop Flights App, both for Android and iOS, along with its traditional flight, hotel, and car search engines. “

      Macland
      - for all your Apple needs

      From starting out as a proper startup with only a good idea and the need to change things, to becoming an established company with 6 employees. Starting from scratch and expanding organically has allowed us to love our expansion and take our customers on the ride with us.

      Macland is located at Laugavegur 23 (101, Downtown Reykjavik)
      For all your Apple needs. We are here.

      Aurora Reykjavik
      - northern lights center

        Aurora Reykjavik is a Northern Lights Center situated in downtown Reykjavík at the Old Harbor next to Icelandair Hotel Marina and Vikin Maritime Museum.

        Aurora Reykjavík is Iceland’s first educational and recreational Northern Lights Center where multimedia is used to explain when, why and how the Northern Lights work, with the highlights being large HD projection of the Aurora’s. We also share myths and legends about what our ancestor thought about those mystical lights.

        The Northern Lights Center is for all ages. Children are our favorite guests and we created the exhibition in a way that children can have a look freely and parents don’t have to worry about things being broken.

        Aurora Reykjavik offers a great selection of souvenirs that are designed and made by Icelanders along with nice little coffee corner, where you can enjoy free coffee and tea while browsing through the souvenirs or just planning your next step.

        Contact Aurora

          Your Name (required)

          Your Email (required)

          Subject

          Your Message

          Ísey skyr
          - once tasted never forgotten

          Our Story
          Once upon a time, 1,100 years ago in fact, Nordic settlers began arriving in Iceland. They brought with them the skills and knowledge for producing skyr. As time passed, the know-how and recipe for this nutritious food slowly faded out elsewhere in the Nordic region. Luckily, the Icelandic skyr-making tradition continued.

          For centuries, Icelandic skyr formed a cornerstone of the national diet, helping to keep people strong in living conditions that were often harsh. On family farms countrywide, it was the women who nurtured this dairy and passing on both the recipe and the original Icelandic skyr cultures from mother to daughter.

          Ísey skyr builds on this remarkable legacy. It was some of those very same women, the recipients of their mothers’ expertise, who, around 90 years ago, taught Icelandic dairy scientists the art of skyr-making. The production process is more high-tech these days, and the quality standards more rigorous. However, the basic recipe and the use of original cultures to ferment the skimmed milk remain the same. Protein rich, fat-free, creamy and delicious – Ísey skyr is as relevant to consumers now as it was all those centuries ago.
          This is our secret and you are in on it

          You can read more about Ísey skyr on our website.

          Núðluskálin
          - noodle bar

          Núðluskálin is a small gay owned and operated fusion noodle bar.

          All of our courses are individually made from fresh ingredients and therefore highly customisable.
          We offer fully Vegan versions of all courses.
          Though originally a take-away we now seat over 30 people.

          Núðluskálin is located right in the heart of Reykjavík on Skólavörðustígur 8 (street leading up to the big Church) near the junction with Laugavegur (main street).

          Seatours
          - adventure cruise

          Ferry Baldur – the gate to the West fjords
          and VikingSushi Adventure – Bird & Nature watching Tour for everyone all year around

          The “VikingSushi Adventure” is the right boat tour for travelers who are adventurous and want to experience something new – close up to the nature seafood simply doesn’t come fresher than this! The archipelago area of the Breidafjordur Bay always surprises her visitors during winter or summer with spectacular sights. Where else you get to try delicious fresh scallops and sea urchin roe straight from the ocean served with soy sauce, wasabi and ginger.

          600x400-seatours-tasting

          This old volcanic area, characterized by the typical basalt formations of the islands, is the home of countless birds. Here you will also find the strongest currents in Iceland. The VikingSushi Tour takes roughly two hours and our captain is also the tour guide.

          600x400-seatours

          The VikingSushi Tour is a true adventure through incredible nature which should not be missed by any traveler to West Iceland.

          Birds, possible to spot:
          -puffins (from the middle of April until the middle of August)
          -eider ducks
          -shags
          -kittiwakes
          -fulmars
          -white-tailed eagle

          The car ferry Baldur is the bridge to the West fjords via the island Flatey
          Ferry Baldur crosses Breidafjordur Bay daily from Stykkisholmur on the Snæfellsnes peninsula to Brjanslaekur in the north. A ferry ride considerably shortens the route between the south and mid-west of the country and the West Fjords region. It also gives you the opportunity to experience a floating restaurant.

          Take a stopover at the charming island Flatey when you are crossing the bay or go to a day tour to Flatey and back to Stykkishólmur. At Flatey are no cars allowed and between the houses of the 18th century you get the feeling of a journey back in time.

          Contact Us


          PGlmcmFtZSBzcmM9Imh0dHBzOi8vd3d3Lmdvb2dsZS5jb20vbWFwcy9lbWJlZD9wYj0hMW0xNCExbTEyITFtMyExZDI3ODQyLjM0NzA2NDA3OTU4ITJkLTIxLjkwMDg1MDg1NzkxODQyITNkNjQuMTQxNzA3ODE2NzAyMDEhMm0zITFmMCEyZjAhM2YwITNtMiExaTEwMjQhMmk3NjghNGYxMy4xITVlMCEzbTIhMXNlbiEycyE0djE0MzMzMzc5MTUyMjYiIHdpZHRoPSIxMDAlIiBoZWlnaHQ9IjEwMCUiIGZyYW1lYm9yZGVyPSIwIiBzdHlsZT0iYm9yZGVyOjAiPjwvaWZyYW1lPg==
          Thank You. We will contact you as soon as possible.