December 31, 2014 at 10:38 am EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Trans teen: ‘My death needs to mean something’
Leelah Alcorn, gay news, Washington Blade

The suicide of a transgender teenager in Ohio has sparked an online outcry. (Image via Facebook)

The suicide of a transgender Ohio teenager has sparked an online outcry and a call for action among LGBT rights advocates.

The Cincinnati Inquirer reported a tractor-trailer truck on Interstate 71 struck and killed Leelah Alcorn, 17, around 2:30 a.m. on Sunday. She posted a note on her Tumblr page shortly before she took her own life.

“If you are reading this, it means that I have committed suicide and obviously failed to delete this post from my queue,” wrote Alcorn in a post titled “Suicide Note.”

Alcorn wrote that she “learned what transgender meant” when she was 14 and “cried for happiness.” She said her mother reacted “extremely negatively” and took her to Christian therapists who were “all very biased.”

“I never actually got the therapy I needed to cure my depression,” wrote Alcorn. “I only got more Christians telling me that I was selfish and wrong and that I should look to God for help.”

Alcorn wrote she came out as gay because she thought it would be “less of a shock” to her parents. Alcorn said they instead pulled her out of school, took away her laptop and phone and refused to allow her to see her friends.

“They felt like I was attacking their image, and that I was an embarrassment to them,” she wrote. “They wanted me to be their perfect little straight Christian boy, and that’s obviously not what I wanted.”

The Cincinnati Inquirer reported that Alcorn’s mother, Carla Wood Alcorn, posted a message to her Facebook page on Sunday that was subsequently taken down.

“My sweet 16-year-old son, Joshua Ryan Alcorn, went home to Heaven this morning,” she wrote, according to the newspaper. “He was out for an early morning walk and was hit by a truck. Thank you for the messages and kindness and concern you have sent our way. Please continue to keep us in your prayers.”

The post that Alcorn wrote before she took her own life has nearly 200,000 views.

Activists and others have taken to Twitter and other social media to mourn Alcorn’s death. The hashtags #LeelahAlcorn and #RealLifeTransAdult have begun to trend.

News of Alcorn’s death broke less than a month after Andi Woodhouse, a 24-year-old trans man, died after jumping off a Pittsburgh bridge.

The National Center for Transgender Equality and the National LGBTQ Task Force in a 2010 study noted 41 percent of trans people have attempted suicide. A report the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights released earlier this month indicates trans women are among those most likely to lose their lives to anti-LGBT violence.

“My death needs to mean something,” wrote Alcorn on her Tumblr page. “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 fucked up’ and fix it. Fix society. Please.”

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

  • To her parents, neither your son nor your daughter died. She was never yours. She may have taken her life, but you killed her. One day I hope your actions will be considered as the same as shooting your child. She was a child of the LGBT community. We were more her family than you ever had the capacity or compassion to be. May you one day pay for the evil you have done you heartless murderers.

  • Until the parents of one of these dead kids are prosecuted for manslaughter or some lesser degree of homicide than premeditated murder, gay and trans kids are going to continue to be tortured by them until they kill themselves.

  • Today's parents need to 'get their heads out of the sand' and realize just how important it is to recognize their child/children are not their 'possessions', that they are individuals who have a life to live and that life just may not 'fit' the preconceived ideas and wishes of their parents. For centuries, religion has destroyed, and been used to destroy, individual lives. Just because a child is 'different' does not make him/her any less valuable to 'so called' society. And if one believes in a supreme being, by whatever name, it must be recognized that the life 'loaned' to a couple is not a status symbol, but a part of the warp and woof of a community which/who can contribute just as much, or more, to the world and their community, school, church and society in general. The parents of Leelah Alcorn could have saved her from suicide by just accepting her as the product of their lives and as such deserved to live the life she chose – not a life chosen by the parents who are/were more concerned about their reputations, than they were for their off-springs desire for happiness.

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