Transgender teen’s death draws attention to LGBTQ community


Kathleen Isenegger and Kyra Moen

On December 28th 2014, 17 year old Leelah Alcorn ended her own life due to the struggles she was experiencing as a transgender girl. Alcorn was frequently active on the social media site Tumblr and scheduled her suicide note to post after her passing. In response many people have felt compelled to speak out against the mistreatment of the transgender community.

“Like a girl trapped in a boy’s body, ever since I was four,” Alcorn said in her final letter, describing how she felt.

Alcorn clearly stated the lack of support and acceptance from her parents was a large contributing factor to her decision. Even now, her parents still refuse to acknowledge who their daughter really was.

The morning following Alcorn’s suicide, her mother posted to Facebook, “My sweet 16 year old son Ryan Joshua Alcorn went home to heaven this morning. He was out for an early morning walk and got 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.”

Alcorn’s death has deeply affected the LGBTQ community, and sparked a petition to ban gender conversion therapy. Over a short period of time, over 300,000 people have signed in support of Leelah’s Law. Alcorn’s parents forced her into conversion therapy because of their religious beliefs.

“I hope people understand the need for equality and justice for the LGBTQ community and make the significant change Leelah wanted,” junior Alex Adle says.

Alcorn’s final wish was for people to take note of the number of transgender deaths each year and realize a change needs to be made. She also desired for all of her possessions to be sold and for the money to be donated to transgender charities.

“She wants her death to mean something, so in light of her dying we should try to end this,” senior Ray Harvey says.

Even though Alcorn was from Ohio, her death has impacted students at Howell High School. Some students may even be dealing with similar issues.

“We just met over Tumblr, we found out we were both questioning our gender… She was really nervous about coming out to her family,” Harvey says.

Many people have been inspired by Alcorn to speak out and share their own experiences on social media, using the hashtag #LeelahAlcorn.

It was clear that Alcorn felt very hopeless in her last days. She was looking for her parent’s acceptance, but she realized her “parents would never come around.”

“Even if you are Christian or are against transgender people don’t ever say that [you are wrong] to someone, especially your kid. That won’t do anything but make them hate them self. That’s exactly what it did to me,” Alcorn said in her suicide letter.