A Sparked Fire in the Trans’ Rights Movement


Leelah Alcorn

Transgender teen, Leelah Alcorn's, famous "dress selfie".

Kaitlyn Zabadal, Staff Writer

If one turns on their TV and flip to a news channel, they’ll see all sorts of events: shootings, marriages, or  new movies like Mockingjay or The Interview. This past couple of weeks, one has probably heard Leelah Alcorn’s name somewhere. Leelah (born Joshua Alcorn) was a transgender girl who was raised in a strict Christian family.

Leelah Alcorn's suicide note was posted on her Tumblr page, but later removed by her family.
Leelah Alcorn’s suicide note was posted on her Tumblr page, but later removed by her family.

Alcorn stepped in front of a semi truck on Dec. 28. There were many investigations that were conducted as to whether she did it purposefully or not, all ending with the conclusion that she committed suicide. . She had scheduled her suicide note to be released on her Tumblr page and it went viral, but was later removed by her parents.

“My sweet 16 year old son, Joshua Ryan Alcorn went home to heaven this morning,” Carol Alcorn wrote on

Leelah's suicide note (continued).
Leelah’s suicide note (continued).

her Facebook page, still refusing to use Leelah’s proper pronouns. “He was out for an early morning walk and was hit by a truck,” she continued.

In response to Carol’s Facebook post, an anonymous Tumblr user wrote: “If you’re not prepared to have a (gay, transgender, disabled, ect.) child, then you shouldn’t have a child. If you’re not prepared to love your child no matter the circumstances, you shouldn’t have a child.”

Leelah’s best friend, Abby Jones, was later notified by the Alcorn family that she wasn’t allowed to attend Leelah’s funeral because she was “accused of sharing the dress selfie with the world” (pictured right).

Unfortunately, it has taken a huge tragedy, a helpless young woman feeling like she can’t live in her own skin, to bring awareness to the small flame that Leelah’s suicide (along with the other numbers of transgender suicides in the past year, alone) sparked. This spark has assisted in lighting a fire within the fight for trandgender rights.

“I’ve come to understand that when a trans woman is called a man that is an act of violence,” said Laverne Cox, the LGBT advocate who stars in “Orange Is the New Black.”

According to the National Center for Transgender Equality website, one in five transgender people in the U.S. have been refused a house or apartment because of their gender identity.

The transgender rights community has taken Alcorn’s suicide into deep concern and have turned her death around into helping support transgender teens who are living in unsafe homes (those who have parents who are not accepting of their child’s decision to change genders). Many Tumblr users are offering safe places to stay for a couple of nights for trans teens living in unsafe homes. Some users are even having parents pitch in to create a safe home for teens to stay in if they are in unsafe living conditions.

Transgender equality has always been a rising controversial topic, but within the past couple of years, it has reached its peak. Junior Monica Martin said that “in 100 years, we’ĺl look back on the way we see transgender people today with disgust- – in the same way that we can’t imagine or understand the racism and sexism of the 19th and 20th century.”

“We used to think being gay was a medical disorder, we used to lock up people with mental illnesses, and we used to shun single women by calling them witches,” Martin continued. “This behavior isn’t acceptable today, so why not have some forethought and accept that we just don’t fully understand transgender people, and that’s ok!”

Leelah concluded her suicide note with a last wish: “Fix society. Please”.