Mourning the Death of Leelah Alcorn

We mourn the death of Leelah Alcorn, a transgender teen who took her own life this week. Leelah left a note in which she described the difficulties she faced growing up trans. She described the relief she felt when she learned about transgender people and could put a name to how she felt about her own gender, and she described the harmful and misguided attempts to “correct” her gender expression which she experienced from many adults in her life.

According to some studies, over half of transgender teens will attempt to take their lives before they are twenty. Too often, they live in hostile environments and face unwelcoming, even dangerous, schools and communities. Like Leelah, many are forced to undergo psychiatric counseling which attempts to change who they are. This kind of “therapy” is unethical, and is a violation of young people’s rights and a danger to their health.

Transgender young people should be accepted and celebrated for who they are. We need to ensure their dignity and create opportunities for happiness and fulfillment. Leelah hoped her death would not be in vain and that people would learn from it and offer support and love to trans teens. We honor her legacy and will continue to work to realize her vision.