Leelah Alcorn Remembered as Teen Who Inspired White House Petition to End 'Conversion Therapy'
White House said it supports Leelah's Law petition to end conversion therapy.
— -- "The only way I will rest in peace is if one day transgender people aren't treated the way I was [and that] they're treated like humans with valid feelings and human rights."
That line is from a suicide note Ohio teen Leelah Alcorn wrote on Tumblr in December shortly before she stepped in front of a tractor-trailer and died in a Cincinnati suburb.
Alcorn, 17, explained in the note that she was taken to Christian therapists by her mom, Carla, who, she said, "reacted extremely negatively" when Alcorn told her she was transgender.
The note and Alcorn's tragic death quickly spurred a formal petition to the White House to "ban all "LGBT+ conversion therapy." President Obama and the White House responded Wednesday night, supporting the petition but noted a national ban would "require congressional action."
Carla Alcorn declined to comment today.
Leelah Alcorn said she felt like a "girl trapped in a boy's body" ever since she was 4 and just tried to do "traditionally 'boyish' things to try to fit in." At 14, she said she learned what "transgender meant and cried of happiness" but was unsupported by her family, which her friends confirmed to ABC News.
Alcorn doesn't use the term "conversion therapy" in the note, but she did say that after coming out, her mom would only take her to "very biased" Christian therapists.
"I never actually got the therapy I needed to cure me of my depression," Alcorn said. "I only got more Christians telling me that I was selfish and wrong and that I should look to God for help."
On her 16th birthday, Alcorn said it "broke [her] heart" when she realized she'd have to wait until she was 18 to start any transitioning treatment because her parents wouldn't give her consent.
"The longer you wait, the harder it is to transition," she wrote, adding she cried herself to sleep. "I felt hopeless, that I was just going to look like a man in drag for the rest of my life."
Alcorn then wrote she came out as gay at school in the hopes that it would ease "coming out as trans," but though her friends were positive, her parents were "pissed."
"They felt like I was attacking their image, and that I was an embarrassment to them," she said. "They wanted me to be their perfect little straight [C]hristian boy, and that's obviously not what I wanted."
Alcorn's parents took her out of public school, took away her laptop and phone and forbid her from going on social media for five months, she said.
After the difficult summer of "loneliness" she experienced, she said she decided she'd had enough.
"People say 'it gets better' but that isn't true in my case," Alcorn wrote. "It gets worse. Each day I get worse."
She ended the note with a call for her death "to mean something."
LGBTQ+ youth in grades seven to 12 are more than twice as likely to attempt suicide as their heterosexual peers, according to the Centers for Disease Control, which added that one study with 55 transgender youth found 25 percent reported suicide attempts.
"Gender needs to be taught about in schools, the earlier the better," Alcorn wrote. "Fix society. Please."
If you or anyone you know is considering suicide or just needs to talk, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
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