The suicide of a transgender teen is catching national attention in part because of a suicide note she left behind online.
Leelah Alcorn, 17, of Kings Mills, Ohio, was struck and killed by a tractor-trailer on I-71 about 2:30 a.m. on Sunday, according to local media.
“My death needs to mean something,” she wrote. “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 f---ed up’ and fix it. Fix society. Please.”
Alcorn's note explains that she has felt like a girl trapped in a boy’s body ever since she was 4. Then she cried tears of joy when she learned what transgender meant at 14.
“After 10 years of confusion I finally understood who I was,” the suicide note reads. “I immediately told my mom, and she reacted extremely negatively, telling me that it was a phase, that I would never truly be a girl, that God doesn’t make mistakes, that I am wrong.”
After her death, Alcorn’s mother was harshly criticized for referring to her child by her given name — “Joshua Ryan Alcorn” — and using male pronouns.
"My sweet 16 year old son, Joshua Ryan Alcorn went home to heaven this morning. He was out for an early morning walk and was hit by a truck,” the mother wrote.
Alcorn requested that all of her belongings and savings be donated to transgender civil rights movements and support groups.
Many people took to Twitter to mourn her death using #LeelahAlcorn and criticize the continued injustice facing transgender people today.
I stand with #LeelahAlcorn. I hope you find the love in eternity that your parents denied you in life— Detective Kat (@NerdKatFTW) December 30, 2014
if your child feels some way you can’t understand, you have the responsibility to educate yourself about it #LeelahAlcorn— Anna Russett (@AnnaRussett) December 30, 2014
So upset to hear about #LeelahAlcorn. Sadly I know this story is common in the trans community. We need to raise awareness-— Gerard Sleigh (@gerardway) December 30, 2014
If your "beliefs" lead you to bully & misgender your child until she commits suicide, your "beliefs" are wrong. Stop the hate. #LeelahAlcorn— Whitney Avalon (@whitneyavalon) December 30, 2014
Similarly, members of the LGBT community and their allies have already started to organize candlelight vigils for Alcorn. One such event, called #StandUp4Leelah, is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday in Columbus, Ohio.
“This will be a short vigil but one that we feel must take place and one that will take a moment to educate, inform, and bring our community together to work towards a dream of one life. We may not have an instant fix but it's time to make it better,” the organizer wrote on the event's Facebook page.
Suicide rates in the transgender community are exceptionally high, with more than 50 percent of transgender teens reporting at least one suicide attempt by their 20th birthday, according to the Youth Suicide Prevention Program.