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.
— Allyson Robinson (@allysonrobinson) December 31, 2014
— Sarah McBride (@SarahEMcBride) December 31, 2014
I’m a #RealLiveTransAdult who wants our trans teens to live, love and most importantly, grow old
— Monica Roberts (@TransGriot) December 31, 2014
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.”