Call for Legal Changes Following Transgender Suicide

Leelah Alcorn 2

After transgender teenager Leelah Alcorn took her own life last week, activists have begun calling for legislation to protect gender diverse youth.

17 year old Alcorn died by suicide on the morning of December 28th in her home town of King’s Mill, Ohio. She scheduled a letter to be posthumously published on her Tumblr account, explaining that she faced a lack of acceptance of her gender identity.

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” she wrote.

“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 of her experience undergoing therapy from “christian therapists, (who were all very biased).”

“I never actually got the therapy I needed to cure me of my depression. I only got more Christians telling me that I was selfish and wrong and that I should look to God for help.”

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 f***ed up’ and fix it. Fix society. Please.”

Speaking to CNN, Leelah Alcorn’s mother, Carla Alcorn spoke about her child’s gender identity.

“We don’t support that, religiously,” she said.

“But we told him that we loved him unconditionally. We loved him no matter what. I loved my son. People need to know that I loved him. He was a good kid, a good boy.”

Hundreds gathered at Kings High School on Saturday to honour Alcorn’s memory with a candlelight vigil. Another vigil is scheduled to occur on January 10th at the Clifton Cultural Arts Centre in Cincinnati.

Activists are calling for legislation to protect transgender youth by banning the practice of attempting to change or sexual orientation or gender identity of minors in a practice known as “conversion therapy”.

Over 270,000 people have signed a petition calling on President Obama to put in place what has been titled ‘Leelah’s Law’ in memorial of Alcorn.

“‘Conversion therapies’ have been documented to cause great harms and in this case, Leelah’s death,” the petition reads, arguing that such practices lack medical validity.

“Therapists that engage in the attempt to brainwash or reverse any childs gender identity are seriously unethical and legislation is needed to end such practices immediately.  Transgender youth have one of the highest suicide rates in the nation.  We must not allow therapists to increase those rates with therapy methodologies that have been demonstrated in harming transgender youth.”

If you  are struggling with anxiety or depression, support and counseling are available from:

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Beyondblue: 1300 22 4636 and

QLife: 1800 184 527 and (QLife are a counselling and referral service for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) people.

Sophie Joske

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