Leelah Alcorn: Friends Speak About After Teen's Death Sparks Outrage

Transgender teen's death being investigated as a suicide.

ByGillian Mohney
December 31, 2014, 12:49 PM

— -- The death of transgender teen Leelah Alcorn has sparked outrage and sadness as her friends talk about some of the difficulties the teen faced.

Alcorn, born Josh Alcorn, was killed Sunday after being hit by a semi-truck. The death of the 17-year-old is being investigated as a possible suicide by the Ohio Highway Patrol.

The police are aware of the note and considering that in their investigation.

In a Tumblr post, reported to be Alcorn’s page by both ABC News affiliate WCPO-TV in Cincinnati and Cincinnati City Council member Chris Seelbach, the teenager wrote a long suicide note detailing her difficulties growing up transgender.

“After 10 years of confusion I finally understood who I was,” Alcorn wrote in her note. “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.”

PHOTO: Leelah Alcorn posted this photo on Tumblr with this caption: I'm seeing a bunch of people do a "6 selfies of 2014" thing, so I figured I'd do it!
Leelah Alcorn posted this photo on Tumblr with this caption: I'm seeing a bunch of people do a "6 selfies of 2014" thing, so I figured I'd do it!

Chris Davis, a childhood friend, told WCPO-TV that Alcorn was not as supported at home as she was among friends.

“One day he finally posted on Facebook, ‘Hey, I’m coming out. This is me. This is who I am,'" Davis told WCPO-TV. "Everybody was like, 'Yeah man, this is great.' He came to school and everyone gave him massive support.”

In Alcorn’s suicide note, she said her parents were not supportive after she said she was gay and took her out of school.

“I hate the fact he lived in a home that didn’t support him,” Davis told WCPO-TV.

Davis said that Alcorn never directly talked about being transgender with him. Another friend said the note gave what he thought was a clear view at her feelings.

“I think he said what he needed to say in his note, how he really felt,” Jimmy Bustetter told WCPO-TV.

Alcorn wrote that she hoped her death would “mean something” to the transgender rights movement.

“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,” reportedly wrote Alcorn. “My death needs to mean something.”

Alcorn's family could not be reached by phone. Alcorn's mother Carla Alcorn, told WCPO-TV she did not want to talk about the story but confirmed that Alcorn was her child.

Alcorn's death and her detailed suicide note lead to quick reaction from people and supporters in the transgender community. After Alcorn’s note went viral, a Twitter hashtag #RealLiveTransAdult started with transgender people describing their lives in the hope to inspire others like Alcorn.

An online petition asking that Alcorn’s chosen name “Leelah” be used on her headstone instead of her birth name “Joshua.”

The petition has gained nearly 26,000 supporters in just 24 hours.

In Alcorn’s hometown, friends and supporters of Alcorn are holding a candlelight vigil at a nearby high school Jan. 3 at 5:30.

Seelbach helped Alcorn’s note go viral by posting it on his Facebook page. He said he hopes to help with transgender issues in the coming year.

“Her suicide letter is so clear—she wanted this to mean something,” said Seelbach of Alcorn’s death. “That’s what we’re responsible in doing.”

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