After posting a heartbreaking suicide note online, a transgender Ohio teen took her own life early Sunday by walking in front of a semi truck on Interstate 71 near her home outside Cincinnati.
Leelah Alcorn (above), 17, scheduled the note to be published on her Tumblr page, LazerPrincess, after her death. She wrote that she'd felt like "a girl trapped in a boy’s body" since she was 4, but didn't know it was possible for "a boy to become a girl" until 10 years later.
When I was 14, I learned what transgender meant and cried of happiness. After 10 years of confusion I finally understood who I was. 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. 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 them self. That’s exactly what it did to me.
Alcorn wrote that her parents took her to Christian therapists who told her she was "selfish and wrong and that I should look to God for help." After Alcorn's parents refused to allow her to begin transitioning when she turned 16, she decided to come out as gay — prompting them to remove her from public school and deprive her of her laptop and phone, leaving her "completely alone" for five months.
When Alcorns' parents finally allowed her back online, she said she discovered that her friends "didn't actually give a shit about me" and "only liked me because they saw me five times a week." According to news reports, Alcorn was attending an online high school at the time of her death.
Alcorn wrote that she decided to take her own life because she felt she would never be able to transition successfully, have enough friends or find love:
Either I live the rest of my life as a lonely man who wishes he were a woman or I live my life as a lonelier woman who hates herself. There’s no winning. There’s no way out. I’m sad enough already, I don’t need my life to get any worse. People say “it gets better” but that isn’t true in my case. It gets worse. Each day I get worse.
Alcorn concluded the note by calling for people to donate to a transgender civil rights group:
The only way I will rest in peace is if one day transgender people aren’t treated the way I was, they’re treated like humans, with valid feelings and human rights. Gender needs to be taught about in schools, the earlier the better. My death needs to mean something. 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.
Not surprisingly, many of the news reports about Alcorn's death have misgendered her, but Cincinnatti.com provides a glimpse of her true nature:
Abigail Jones met Alcorn last spring when Alcorn, a talented artist, applied to work as a caricaturist at Kings Island.
Alcorn’s work was the best of any new employee. They drew caricatures of each other and a friendship took root.
“She was super bubbly and upbeat with a really brash sense of humor; she could make anyone laugh,” said Jones, 17, of Milford.
Alcorn's mother, Carla, wrote Sunday on Facebook: "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. Thank you for the messages and kindness and concern you have sent our way. Please continue to keep us in your prayers."
A representative from Kings Local Schools, which Alcorn once attended, remembered her as "a sweet, talented, tender-hearted 17-year-old," according to WCPO-TV. The school district reportedly planned a moment of silence in Alcorn's honor at basketball games this week.
But the most fitting tribute came from Cincinnati City Councilman Chris Seelbach (right), who wrote on Facebook:
It has come to light that this person likely committed suicide because she was transgender.
While Cincinnati led the country this past year as the first city in the mid-west to include transgender inclusive health benefits and we have included gender identity or expression as a protected class for many years….the truth is….it is still extremely difficult to be a transgender young person in this country.
We have to do better.