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Cincinnati Councilman Gives Emotional Speech in Support of LGBT Youth After Leelah Alcorn's Suicide: WATCH

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The tragic suicide of Leelah Alcorn last week struck a nerve with Cincinnati City Councilman Chris Seelbach. As the city's first openly gay councilman, Seelbach saw Leelah's suicide as the wake up call society needed to better ensure that those who struggle with their sexuality or gender identity are loved and accepted.

Following a reading Leelah's suicide not to the council's chambers on Wednesday, Seelbach used his platform to directly address "every single lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, intersex, ally person young or old."

Alcorn1"It doesn't always get better. For many of us, it does. And it does with every single day that passes. But sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes the very people you trust, who you should trust - your parents, your pastor - they fail you. And they continue to fail you. They make life seem like it gets worse with every day, not better. And when that happens and someone tells you or you hear in some polished media campaign "It gets better," it's so easy to think "Not for me." Because that's what your truth is - it's not better. And the truth is we as a society, as a community, as a "it takes a village" have failed you. We haven't spoken up enough, challenged the beliefs of people who tell you aren't exactly the person God made you to be. Because you are. What I know for sure is that with every day, it may not feel like it gets better, but I know that you can get through it. You can survive the rejection. You can survive the pain. You can survive the isolation. You can because you're exactly who you're supposed to be. You're the person God made you to be, and you have the strength to persevere. It will not be easy. It may not get better with every day, but you can do it – I know you can. If no one seems to have faith in you, I do...you are not alone."

Listen to Seelbach's full remarks, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Cincinnati Councilman Gives Emotional Speech in Support of LGBT Youth After Leelah Alcorn's Suicide: WATCH" »


As Transgender Teen Leelah Alcorn Is Laid To Rest, Her Death Begins To 'Mean Something' - VIDEO

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Transgender suicide victim Leelah Alcorn (below right) was laid to rest Friday morning in a private service, after her family moved the funeral in response to alleged threats, according to a report from NBC News

Tim Tripp, the family minister at Northeast Church of Christ in Cincinnati, told NBC News the funeral had been moved to a private location because "the times and dates had been publicized, and the family's received threats." Tripp wouldn't specify what threats surrounded the funeral, other than to say the family had heard there would be "disruptions." Mourners arriving at the church Friday found a sign on the door announcing the service's postponement. Jeff Hartmann, of Hodapp Funeral Home, said the private service was held there Friday morning. He said Alcorn's body was to be cremated.

AlcornMeanwhile, the LGBT community and its supporters honored Alcorn at candlelight vigils in Cleveland, Columbus (above) and other cities on Friday night. Additional vigils are planned outside Alcorn's former school today, and as far away as Orlando and London

A petition launched in the wake of Alcorn's suicide calling for a federal ban on transgender conversion therapy has garnered more than 240,000 signatures. Another petition calling for Alcorn's correct name to be placed on her headstone has garnered more than 70,000 signatures. 

As we reported, Leelah's mother, Carla Alcorn, told CNN she'd never heard her daughter's chosen name prior to her suicide. But that isn't surprising given that Leelah's parents likely would have used the name as another reason to punish their daughter, since they didn't support her gender identity due to their religious beliefs. 

WCPO-TV reported Thursday night that Leelah's father, Doug, sent the station an email in which he continued to misgender his daughter and use her birth name: 

WCPO has made several attempts to speak with her parents at their Kings Mills home. 

After an attempt Thursday, the girl’s father, Doug, sent WCPO an email with the subject line: “Joshua Alcorn and your visit this morning.”

Doug Alcorn's message reads in part:

“We love our son, Joshua, very much and are devastated by his death. We have no desire to enter into a political storm or debate with people who did not know him. We wish to grieve in private. We harbor no ill will towards anyone. ... I simply do not wish our words to be used against us.”

Needless to say, it's a little late for that, but actions speak louder than words, and Leelah's parents' actions as described in her Tumblr post were largely confirmed by her mother's statements to CNN.  

Not surprisingly, the original Tumblr post itself has been removed, but you can find an archive of it here, and the unprecedented national media coverage of Leelah's suicide continues, with some advocates calling her death the transgender community's "Matthew Shepard moment." 

Watch GLAAD spokesman Tiq Milan discuss the tragedy on MSNBC, as well as WCPO's report on Leelah's father's statement, AFTER THE JUMP ... 

Continue reading "As Transgender Teen Leelah Alcorn Is Laid To Rest, Her Death Begins To 'Mean Something' - VIDEO" »


Dan Savage: Prosecute Transgender Teen Leelah Alcorn's Parents for Abuse

Alcorn

Yesterday we reported on the tragic suicide of Leelah Alcorn, a transgender teen who took her own life by walking in front of a truck near her home in Cincinnati on Sunday (full story here).

Alcorn's death, suggested to be an accident by her mother Carla Wood Alcorn on Facebook, was revealed to be a suicide after a note Leelah wrote appeared on a Tumblr account. The note also detailed the issues she faced due to her parents' intolerance.

Alcorn's parents, who had taken her to a Christian therapist because she sought to begin transitioning when she turned 16, removed her from high school and confiscated her laptop after she then came out to them as gay, cutting off her contact from the rest of the world.

The story is now getting national attention and friends are speaking out about Alcorn.

DavisChris Davis, a childhood friend of Alcorn's, discusses the teen's struggles with WCPO (referring to her with a male pronoun):

“One day he finally posted on Facebook, ‘Hey, I’m coming out. This is me. This is who I am. Everybody was like, 'Yeah man, this is great.' He came to school and everyone gave him massive support. Occasionally he’d tell me, ‘Oh, I feel like I’m something else or I’m someone else,’ and wouldn’t go too far with it. I feel like it was something that was really personal to him that maybe he didn’t tell anybody about because he was nervous about it.”

Watch the interview, AFTER THE JUMP...

Others are speaking out as well. Activist and anti-bullying advocate Dan Savage is calling for Alcorn's parents to be prosecuted for abuse:

Marriage Equality Ohio is holding a vigil for Alcorn on January 3 at Kings High School in Cincinnati.

Continue reading "Dan Savage: Prosecute Transgender Teen Leelah Alcorn's Parents for Abuse" »


Transgender Ohio Teen Leelah Alcorn's Horrifying Suicide Offers Bitter Lesson: 'We Have To Do Better'

Leelah

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.

Leelah3Alcorn 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.

LeelahArtNot 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.

SeelbachBut 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. 


Supreme Court To Consider On Jan 9. Whether To Hear Challenges To Same-Sex Marriage Bans

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In the wake of the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals' decision earlier this year to uphold bans on same-sex marriage in Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee and Michigan, the United States Supreme Court has decided to consider hearing challenges to that ruling from marriage equality advocates during its closed doors conference on January 9th. At that same conference, the Court will also be considering a decision from a federal judge in Louisiana that let that state's ban on same-sex marriage stand. BuzzFeed's Chris Geidner reports: 

“The Tanco [Tennessee case] petition will be considered at the Court’s January 9 conference, along with … petitions filed by the plaintiffs in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Louisiana,” National Center for Lesbian Rights spokesperson Erik Olvera told BuzzFeed News on Monday afternoon.

The plaintiffs and marriage equality advocates alike hope the petitions will provide the Supreme Court with the chance to take a case to resolve the issue nationally with a ruling that would apply across the country.

Although the justices denied petitions filed earlier in the year from other states, all were in cases in which the lower court had struck down the bans — and before there was a “circuit split,” a disagreement among the federal appeals court on the issue. All five petitions before the court now come from decisions upholding the various states’ bans.

In November, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 decision, reversed the four district courts to have heard the cases out of Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee — sending the plaintiffs in the cases from all four states to the Supreme Court seeking an appeal. 

[…]

Kentucky, Michigan, and Ohio officials agreed that the Supreme Court should take a case and resolve the issue nationally; only Tennessee officials opposed Supreme Court review.

The American Civil Liberties Union and Jeffrey Fisher, from Stanford Law School, joined the Kentucky lawyers, led by Daniel Canon, in Monday’s reply brief, arguing, “For petitioners here – and for lesbian and gay couples and families across both the Sixth Circuit and the country – the harm and confusion that the circuit split has caused calls out for immediate review.”

You can read the Kentucky plaintiffs' reply below:

14-575 Plaintiffs' Reply by Equality Case Files


Ohio Judge Mistakenly Divorces Gay Couple

McCarthy

Despite the wave of marriage equality that has swept most of the nation in recent years, many gay couples are still unable to divorce. 

The issue is that many states have residency requirements for divorce. Same-sex couples who've traveled to other states to marry are unable to divorce because the marriages aren't recognized in their home states the same way that opposite-sex marriages would be.

Short of relocating to the state where they married for six months or a year to meet residency requirements, these couples have no legal means to dissolve their marriages — and are unable to access the remedies that come with divorce, such as community property, child custody and support, etc. Furthermore, if they try to remarry, they could be charged with bigamy.  

Recently, an Ohio lesbian couple apparently sought to get around this problem by simply listing one of the parties as the husband on a divorce petition. And it worked, at least initiallly, as the judge mistakenly granted it, according to a report from The Columbus Dispatch:  

An Athens County judge approved the county’s first same-sex divorce last week, but not intentionally.

Athens County Common Pleas Judge George McCarthy (above), who approved the divorce on Nov. 25, said the next day that he was unaware that both parties were women when he signed the judgment.

“Ohio goes through great pains to make things gender-neutral (in documents),” he said. ... 

He added that same-sex divorces exist in a kind of legal gray area for Ohio judges.

Divorce-application forms in Athens County include only columns for a husband and a wife. Erin O’Leary, a woman, was listed in the husband column. Brenda Mohney, who filed for the divorce, is listed in the wife column.

Judge McCarthy says he now plans to vacate the divorce, based on the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' decision to uphold the state's marriage ban last month. Of course, same-sex couples have requested a review of that decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, which will consider whether to take up a Michigan case on Jan. 9, and with any luck it will be overturned next year.  

In the meantime, O'Leary and Mohney — along with countless other married same-sex couples living in non-marriage equality states who are unable to divorce — remain in legal limbo, denied the basic human dignity of getting on with their lives. 


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