One of the arguments sometimes advanced against voting rights for people under 18 is that everyone grows up, so people under 18 just need to wait for their concerns to be represented.
I could write a whole other blog post on why waiting to have your concerns represented is not at all the same thing as having your present concerns represented, but in this post I’ll just say it simply isn’t true.
Some people don’t live to 18. Some people don’t live to 18 as a direct result of the conditions people under 18 live under.
Leelah Alcorn was a trans girl who died by suicide after being denied the ability to transition or even delay puberty, and being isolated and emotionally abused by her parents. To quote I Support Youth Rights:
Leelah Alcorn should have been able to begin transitioning, regardless of how her parents felt about it. They should have had no say in the matter. Regardless of her age.
Leelah Alcorn should have been able to stay in school and in contact with her friends whether her parents wanted her to or not. They should have had no power to stop this. Regardless of her age.
Leelah Alcorn should have been able to opt out of the religious “therapy” she was being subjected to. Her parents should never have had the ability to put her into it against her will in the first place. Regardless of her age.
Leelah Alcorn should have had the ability to get away from such hostile parents, who valued their bigotry and intolerance more than their own daughter. Regardless of her age.
Leelah Alcorn should be still alive and happy, in total control of her own body, mind, education, and life.
Instead, she was kept so miserable and powerless that she saw no other way out than suicide. Because her parents’ “right” to raise their child as they see fit was more important than her life.
Just like far too many teens before her.
Leelah was 17 when she died, and her last words were “Fix society. Please.” Not only did she suffer a deadly lack of basic human rights and autonomy because of her age, she and others like her lack any political voice with which to change the situation. I hope that there are very few people out there who think that it was right and just that Leelah was barred from voting her entire life.