The mother of Leelah Alcorn, the Ohio teenager whose blogged suicide note has triggered worldwide anger and sorrow, is talking, about how very much she loved her child; a child she considered a boy.
Leelah wrote in that online letter, deleted from tumblr on Friday, that she told her mother she wanted to live as a girl. She considered herself transgender.
"We don't support that, religiously," Alcorn's mother, Carla, told CNN, using male pronouns, in a voice torn by heartache. “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."
But that is not who Alcorn wanted to be. “I feel like a girl trapped in a boy’s body,” Leelah Alcorn wrote in the suicide note, “and I’ve felt that way ever since I was 4… When I was 14, I learned what transgender meant and cried of happiness. 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.”
Leelah signed the note "Josh Alcorn" and then crossed out the name "Josh," and typed "Leelah." Alcorn’s mother said that was the first time she encountered the name. "He never said that name before," she said.
Alcorn insisted her child came to her only once to talk about being transgender, then stopped. "He just quit talking about (being transgender)," she said. Carla Alcorn said in addition to religious reasons, she refused treatment for transition because the family couldn't afford it. She told her child no, she said, because "we didn't have the money for anything like that."
In her suicide note, Leelah said she cried herself to sleep that night. Alcorn’s mother told CNN she recognized that her child was depressed and that counselors and a psychiatrist gave the teenager medication. She said that she took away her child's access to social media because the teen was looking at "inappropriate" things on the Internet, but would not say what those things were.
Leelah’s death has ignited an outpouring of both sympathy and outrage across social media. The hashtags #LeelahAlcorn and #RealLiveTransAdult have been used to rally supporters of transgender civil rights. And an online call for action has been advanced against the teen’s parents.
On Twitter, columnist and author Dan Savage demanded an indictment on charges such as child abuse, neglect, reckless endangerment and manslaughter. “#LeelahAlcorn's parents threw her in front of that truck,” Savage tweeted, referring to the semi tractor trailer that struck Alcorn early Sunday when she stepped in front of it. “They should be ashamed—but 1st they need to be shamed. Charges should be brought.”
So far, the Ohio State Highway Patrol is the only agency looking into Alcorn’s death, and it is being investigated as a suicide. Carla Alcorn worried Wednesday that the hateful messages directed toward her and her husband are making them out to be "horrible people," she said. She has other children, she said, and they are incredibly sad about losing a sibling.
A church representative told NBC News the teen was buried in a private service, because people had threatened to protest. A vigil led by members of Ohio’s LGBT community was held Friday night in the Cincinnti suburb, in Leelah’s memory. But Carla Alcorn wants the world to know about the child she knew: Joshua Ryan Alcorn. "He was an amazing musician and artist," she said. "He was an amazing boy."