Leelah Alcorn: How Has The Transgender Teen’s Suicide Affected The World?

Transgender teenager Leelah Alcorn shocked the world when she stepped in front of a truck to commit suicide on Sunday morning. Leelah’s even more shocking suicide note blamed her parents entirely for making her life miserable, and added a sincere “f*** you.” Now news of Alcorn’s death and her final words are echoing through the LGBT community and making a substantial impact on the public’s perception of transgender people.

Some of Leelah’s last words posted to her Tumblr page before her suicide were pleas to society to fix discrimination and prejudice against trans people. The closing paragraph of Alcorn’s note read, “Gender needs to be taught about in schools, the earlier the better. My death needs to mean something….. Fix society. Please.” Now, Alcorn’s friends and posthumous supporters are working hard to make sure her death does mean something.

According to AOL, Alcorn’s suicide has caused a major uproar among LGBT activists. According to the IB Times, Leelah Alcorn’s death has caught the attention of transgender public figures like Laverne Cox, Andreja Pejic, and Janet Mock. Laverne Cox shared a portion of Leelah Alcorn’s final words, while others spoke their minds about Leelah’s death.

“Cases like #LeelahAlcorn are all too common and represent everything that is wrong with our society!” wrote Pejic, a transgender model. “What a preventable tragedy and disgrace.”

“Leelah’s note checked parents on intolerance,” said Mock, a writer and trans activist, “challenged medical gatekeepers, highlighted power of social media & upheld self-determination.”

Some of the backlash from Leelah Alcorn’s suicide has been especially negative. The Washington Post reported on the responses to Alcorn’s death, criticizing members of the public for viciously attacking the victim’s parents.

“I hope you read her suicide letter and cried your heart out,” one person said to Leelah’s parents. “But you probably didn’t. You don’t seem to be able to care for others in a way a normal and healthy human being does.”

While much of the hate directed at Alcorn’s parents seems harsh, Leelah’s own words to them were just as unforgiving. Alcorn, among other transgender people, held Christianity accountable for much of the discrimination against the LGBT community.

“After 10 years of confusion I finally understood who I was,” Leelah’s note said. “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.”

Leelah Alcorn made it clear in her suicide note that the solution to fixing intolerance against transgender people was education. Those who work to spread understanding about transgender people have done so by explaining the way it works. Activists believe that if the public understood that trans people like Leelah Alcorn didn’t choose to be the way they are, maybe the perception of them would be better.

“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.”

Elsewhere on the internet, countless writers, bloggers, and columnists have spoken out about the important of Alcorn’s final words–claiming that her suicide should be a tipping point towards change. Slate commented on the sad irony of the fact that Leelah Alcorn is only getting recognition and support after she took her own life.

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