Suicide of Leelah Alcorn raises awareness for transgender teens

Leelah Alcorn has requested for all her possessions to be sold and the money go towards transgender rights organizations.

Photo credit: genderidentitywatch.com

Leelah Alcorn has requested for all her possessions to be sold and the money go towards transgender rights organizations.

Akemi Yara, Staff Writer

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Leelah Alcorn, a young transgender woman born Joshua Alcorn, committed suicide on December 28, 2014. The teenager was struck by a tractor-trailer on Interstate 71 at about 2 a.m. approximately four miles from her home in Kings Mills, Ohio.

Leelah Alcorn’s suicide has attracted international attention due to her suicide note, posted on the social media website, Tumblr, before her death. In the note, she stated that she felt “like a girl trapped in a boy’s body” and has felt that way “ever since [she] was four.” Alcorn later stated, “When I was 14, I learned what transgender meant and cried of happiness. After 10 years of confusion, I finally understood who I was.”

She went on to explain that she felt isolated from her Christian family. Her parents removed her from school and revoked her access to social media. They also refused to address her by her preferred pronouns or call her Leelah. Alcorn’s parents also denied their child’s request to undergo transition treatment, and instead, sent her to Christian conversion therapy, intended to convince her to accept her biological gender of birth.

In her suicide note, Alcorn offered words of advice to parents of transgender children, begging them to never tell their child that being transgender is a “phase,” “that God doesn’t make mistakes,” or that they will never truly be the gender they feel they are.

“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 themselves. That’s exactly what it did to me,” she stated.

She also dedicated all of her possessions and savings to transgender civil rights movements and support groups. She said, “The only way I will rest in peace is if one day transgender people aren’t treated the way I was, and they’re treated like humans with valid feelings and human rights. Gender needs to be taught about in schools, the earlier the better.”

At the end of her letter, she pleaded, “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… ‘Fix society.’”

In light of the situation, Ms. Klamerus, Becton’s Anti-Bullying Specialist, stated, “It is a tragedy that could have been prevented. It is unfortunate that [Leelah] did what she did to get away from her situation, in regards to transgender rights,” she said, “You have to be comfortable with yourself to be happy. If you are not, you have to do what will make you comfortable.”

There are many nationwide support groups for transgender individuals. One in particular is loveisrespect.org. Even though it is primarily a dating violence support group, they do cover a large span of different forms of abuse. If students are looking for resources on any form of abuse, they are welcomed to see Ms. Klamerus in the guidance office or to contact her by e-mail at [email protected]

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

Transgender Lifeline: +187 756 588 60

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