“My death needs to mean something,” she wrote. “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.”
Alcorn's note explains that she has felt like a girl trapped in a boy’s body ever since she was 4. Then she cried tears of joy when she learned what transgender meant at 14.
“After 10 years of confusion I finally understood who I was,” the suicide note reads. “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.”
After her death, Alcorn’s mother was harshly criticized for referring to her child by her given name — “Joshua Ryan Alcorn” — and using male pronouns.
"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,” the mother wrote.
Alcorn requested that all of her belongings and savings be donated to transgender civil rights movements and support groups.
Many people took to Twitter to mourn her death using # Leelah Alcorn and criticize the continued injustice facing transgender people today.
Leelah Alcorn, 17, of Kings Mills, Ohio Who Is Born Joshua Ryan Alcorn Very Sad !
Suicide Note If you are reading this, it means that I have committed suicide and obviously failed to delete this post from my queue.
Please don’t be sad, it’s for the better. 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. I never knew there was a word for that feeling, nor was it possible for a boy to become a girl, so I never told anyone and I just continued to do traditionally “boyish” things to try to fit in.
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.
My mom started taking me to a therapist, but would only take me to christian therapists, (who were all very biased) so 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.
When I was 16 I realized that my parents would never come around, and that I would have to wait until I was 18 to start any sort of transitioning treatment, which absolutely broke my heart. The longer you wait, the harder it is to transition. I felt hopeless, that I was just going to look like a man in drag for the rest of my life. On my 16th birthday, when I didn’t receive consent from my parents to start transitioning, I cried myself to sleep.
I formed a sort of a “fuck you” attitude towards my parents and came out as gay at school, thinking that maybe if I eased into coming out as trans it would be less of a shock. Although the reaction from my friends was positive, my parents were pissed. They felt like I was attacking their image, and that I was an embarrassment to them. They wanted me to be their perfect little straight christian boy, and that’s obviously not what I wanted.
So they took me out of public school, took away my laptop and phone, and forbid me of getting on any sort of social media, completely isolating me from my friends. This was probably the part of my life when I was the most depressed, and I’m surprised I didn’t kill myself. I was completely alone for 5 months. No friends, no support, no love. Just my parent’s disappointment and the cruelty of loneliness.
At the end of the school year, my parents finally came around and gave me my phone and let me back on social media. I was excited, I finally had my friends back. They were extremely excited to see me and talk to me, but only at first. Eventually they realized they didn’t actually give a shit about me, and I felt even lonelier than I did before. The only friends I thought I had only liked me because they saw me five times a week.
After a summer of having almost no friends plus the weight of having to think about college, save money for moving out, keep my grades up, go to church each week and feel like shit because everyone there is against everything I live for, I have decided I’ve had enough. I’m never going to transition successfully, even when I move out. I’m never going to be happy with the way I look or sound. I’m never going to have enough friends to satisfy me. I’m never going to have enough love to satisfy me. I’m never going to find a man who loves me. I’m never going to be happy. 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.
That’s the gist of it, that’s why I feel like killing myself. Sorry if that’s not a good enough reason for you, it’s good enough for me. As for my will, I want 100% of the things that I legally own to be sold and the money (plus my money in the bank) to be given to trans civil rights movements and support groups, I don’t give a shit which one. 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.
Goodbye, (Leelah) Josh Alcorn
Sorry And now for my sorry notes to some people I knew…
Amanda: You are going to have such a wonderful life. You are the most talented and pretty little girl I’ve ever met and I love you so much, Amanda. Please don’t be sad. I’m going to miss you so very much. I love you.
Tiffany: We haven’t talked much recently since we’re both so busy but I’m so happy you’re my sister. You are so courageous and determined to achieve what you want, you can accomplish anything. I love you.
Justin: We’ve been jerks to each other a lot recently but I really do love you. You get on my nerves almost all the time but no matter what a part of me will always love you. Sorry for picking on you so much when we were kids.
Rylan: I’m so sorry I’m never there for you. I love you so much.
Abby: Thank you for dealing with my pathetic problems, all I did was make your life harder and I’m sorry.
Mom and Dad: F*ck you. You can’t just control other people like that. That’s messed up.
I don’t really feel the need to apologize to anyone else… odds are you didn’t give a shit about me and if you do, you did something that made me feel like shit and you don’t deserve an apology.
Also, anyone who says something like “I wish I got to know him better” or “I wish I treated him better” gets a punch in the nose.
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Health and Other Things In 2015 Thankx
Most lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ)* youth are happy and thrive during their adolescent years. Going to a school that creates a safe and supportive learning environment for all students and having caring and accepting parents are especially important. This helps all youth achieve good grades and maintain good mental and physical health. However, some LGBTQ youth are more likely than their heterosexual peers to experience difficulties in their lives and school environments, such as violence.
* Variations of this acronym are used throughout the Web page to reflect relevant populations. Many studies consider lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth but do not include transgender and questioning youth.
Experiences with ViolenceNegative attitudes toward lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) people put these youth at increased risk for experiences with violence, compared with other students.1 Violence can include behaviors such as bullying, teasing, harassment, physical assault, and suicide-related behaviors.
According to data from Youth Risk Behavior Surveys (YRBS) conducted during 2001‒2009 in seven states and six large urban school districts, the percentage of LGB students (across the sites) who were threatened or injured with a weapon on school property in the prior year ranged from 12% to 28%. In addition, across the sites―19% to 29% of gay and lesbian students and 18% to 28% of bisexual students experienced dating violence in the prior year.14% to 31% of gay and lesbian students and 17% to 32% of bisexual students had been forced to have sexual intercourse at some point in their lives.2
LGBTQ youth are also at increased risk for suicidal thoughts and behaviors, suicide attempts, and suicide. A nationally representative study of adolescents in grades 7–12 found that lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth were more than twice as likely to have attempted suicide as their heterosexual peers.3 More studies are needed to better understand the risks for suicide among transgender youth. However, one study with 55 transgender youth found that about 25% reported suicide attempts.4
Another survey of more than 7,000 seventh- and eighth-grade students from a large Midwestern county examined the effects of school [social] climate and homophobic bullying on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and questioning (LGBQ) youth and found that LGBQ youth were more likely than heterosexual youth to report high levels of bullying and substance use; Students who were questioning their sexual orientation reported more bullying, homophobic victimization, unexcused absences from school, drug use, feelings of depression, and suicidal behaviors than either heterosexual or LGB students; LGB students who did not experience homophobic teasing reported the lowest levels of depression and suicidal feelings of all student groups (heterosexual, LGB, and questioning students); and All students, regardless of sexual orientation, reported the lowest levels of depression, suicidal feelings, alcohol and marijuana use, and unexcused absences from school when they were In a positive school climate and Not experiencing homophobic teasing.5
Effects on Education and Health Exposure to violence can have negative effects on the education and health of any young person. However, for LGBT youth, a national study of middle and high school students shows that LGBT students (61.1%) were more likely than their non-LGBT peers to feel unsafe or uncomfortable as a result of their sexual orientation.6 According to data from CDC’s YRBS, the percentage of gay, lesbian, and bisexual students (across sites) who did not go to school at least one day during the 30 days before the survey because of safety concerns ranged from 11% to 30% of gay and lesbian students and 12% to 25% of bisexual students.2
The stresses experienced by LGBT youth also put them at greater risk for depression, substance use, and sexual behaviors that place them at risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).1,2,7 For example, HIV infection among young men who have sex with men aged 13‒24 years increased by 26% over 2008‒2011.8What Schools Can Do
For youth to thrive in their schools and communities, they need to feel socially, emotionally, and physically safe and supported. A positive school climate has been associated with decreased depression, suicidal feelings, substance use, and unexcused school absences among LGBQ students.9
Schools can implement clear policies, procedures, and activities designed to promote a healthy environment for all youth. For example, research has shown that in schools with LGB support groups (such as gay-straight alliances), LGB students were less likely to experience threats of violence, miss school because they felt unsafe, or attempt suicide than those students in schools without LGB support groups.10 A recent study found that LGB students had fewer suicidal thoughts and attempts when schools had gay-straight alliances and policies prohibiting expression of homophobia in place for 3 or more years.11
To help promote health and safety among LGBTQ youth, schools can implement the following policies and practices: Encourage respect for all students and prohibit bullying, harassment, and violence against all students. Identify “safe spaces,” such as counselors’ offices, designated classrooms, or student organizations, where LGBTQ youth can receive support from administrators, teachers, or other school staff. Encourage student-led and student-organized school clubs that promote a safe, welcoming, and accepting school environment (e.g., gay-straight alliances, which are school clubs open to youth of all sexual orientations).Ensure that health curricula or educational materials include HIV, other STD, or pregnancy prevention information that is relevant to LGBTQ youth (such as, ensuring that curricula or materials use inclusive language or terminology).Encourage school district and school staff to develop and publicize trainings on how to create safe and supportive school environments for all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, and encourage staff to attend these trainings. Facilitate access to community-based providers who have experience providing health services, including HIV/STD testing and counseling, to LGBTQ youth. Facilitate access to community-based providers who have experience in providing social and psychological services to LGBTQ youth.
What Parents Can DoHow parents respond to their LGB teen can have a tremendous impact on their adolescent’s current and future mental and physical health.12,13 Supportive reactions can help youth cope with the challenges of being an LGBTQ teen. However, some parents react negatively to learning that they may have an LGBTQ daughter or son. In some cases, parents no longer allow their teens to remain in the home. In other situations, stress and conflict at home can cause some youth to run away. As a result, LGB youth are at greater risk for homelessness than their heterosexual peers.1
To be supportive, parents should talk openly with their teen about any problems or concerns and be watchful of behaviors that might indicate their child is a victim of bullying or violence―or that their child may be victimizing others. If bullying, violence, or depression is suspected, parents should take immediate action, working with school personnel and other adults in the community.
Ways Parents Can Influence the Health of Their LGB YouthMore research is needed to better understand the associations between parenting and the health of LGB youth. Following are selected research-based steps parents can take to support the health and well-being of their LGB teen:
Talk and listen. Parents who talk with and listen to their teen in a way that invites an open discussion about sexual orientation can help their teen feel loved and supported. Parents should have honest conversations with their teens about sex, and about how to avoid risky behavior and unsafe or high-risk situations.
Provide support. Parents who take time to come to terms with how they feel about their teen’s sexual orientation will be more able to respond calmly and use respectful language. Parents should develop common goals with their teen, including being healthy and doing well in school.
Stay involved. Parents who make an effort to know their teen’s friends and know what their teen is doing can help their teen stay safe and feel cared about.
Be proactive. Parents can access many organizations and online information resources to learn more about how they can support their LGB teen, other family members, and their teen’s friends.