24 Powerful Reactions to Leelah Alcorn's Death

Co-authored by Jillian Kinder

Seventeen-year-old Leelah Alcorn committed suicide early Sunday morning in Warren County, Ohio. In her suicide note, she illustrated her struggle when coming to terms with her gender identity. Once she finally discovered that she was not alone in her struggle, she was ecstatic. Trying to reveal her identity to her friends and family was another story.

In an effort to provide a stepping stone for coming out as transgender, Alcorn came out as gay at 16. In response, her parents pulled her out of school and cut off from the outside world for five months. According to her suicide note, she asked her parents for help medically transitioning and received Christian therapy instead. The therapists told her that "[she] was selfish and wrong, and that [she] should look to God for help."

After five months of being cut off from society, she was allowed to receive her electronics. Leelah quickly realized that her friends were in fact, not friends at all, just people that "only liked me because they saw me five times a week."

After summing up her history and reasons for making this decision, Leelah pleaded with readers of the note to take action after her death. "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."

Many teens and young adults took to Twitter to express their reactions.

Several tweets mourned for Leelah:

The majority of reactions included not only sadness for Leelah's suicide, but also anger for the reaction of her mother and school district after her death. Both her mother and the school district referred to her as Joshua, her birth name. Her mother went as far as denying the fact that it was suicide; rather, it was an accident that Leelah was hit by a truck.

Several tweets condemned Leelah's parents:

Some tweets called for change:

Some offered help to LGBTQ teens:

Many adults shared personal stories through the #RealLiveTransAdult hashtag:

And some hoped for the future:

"My death needs to mean something."

We will make sure that it does.

Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.