Transgender teen Leelah Alcorn's suicide note makes massive impact
KINGS MILLS, Ohio (WLWT) - Friends of the 17-year-old struck and killed on Interstate 71 in Union Township early Sunday morning say the transgender teen committed suicide.
Friends and classmates of a transgender teenager held a moment of silence Tuesday night for the girl who committed suicide and left behind a note on social media.
"If you are reading this, it means that I have committed suicide," Leelah Alcorn wrote on her Tumblr page before her death.
Leelah Alcorn was born Joshua Alcorn and was in the process of transitioning to her life as a female.
Her death has sparked an outcry in the LGBT community.
Classmates at Kings High School are calling for education and tolerance. In the letter, Leelah wrote about depression and not being accepted by her parents for her true gender identity.
"There's no winning. There's no way out," she wrote.
Her last words before goodbye were, "Fix society. Please."
Now the Warren County teen's story is getting international attention.
"Just because we don't understand something doesn't make it bad," said Alcorn's friend, Azalea Laverde, who first met Leelah when she was younger. The two also worked together at Kings Island.
"When the season ended, I happened to find her Tumblr one day and I started talking to her about it and that's when Leelah finally came out to me and told me she was transgender and that she wanted to go by Leelah. She was actually going to go by Leelah on her 17th birthday," Laverde said.
Leelah was accepted for who she was at her job as a caricature artist at Kings Island.
Her home life, Laverde said, was another story.
According to her suicide letter, lack of acceptance was something Leelah struggled with.
"The life I would've lived isn't worth living in because I'm transgender. I could go into detail explaining why I feel that way, but this note is probably going to be lengthy enough as it is. To put it simply, I feel like a girl trapped in a boy's body, and I've felt that way ever since I was 4," part of Leelah's letter read.
"It's not a disease. It's not perverted. It's just a natural part of the scope of human diversity," said Jonah Yokoyama, the Transition Care Services Director at the Heartland Trans Wellness Group. "Nothing that the parent or anyone did made this child transgender. That is some way that they are born and they can't change who they are."
But Yokoyama said a lack of education and understanding leads to 41 percent of transgender individuals attempting suicide in their lives.
"It can be a very isolating experience," he said. "People need community. They need connection and, like I said, it's hard for transgender individuals to find that connection."
Leelah's friends are hoping to bring awareness to this social issue. The Facebook group "Justice for Leelah Alcorn" has been created and has already gained a following.
"You have to tell other people who are alive right now and struggling with it that it's OK that they are that way and that there is nothing wrong with them and they have support," Laverde said.
"My death needs to mean something," were a few of Leelah's final words.
Leelah's parents did not want to comment Tuesday.
If you or a friend is in need of help, contact the Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860.