Leelah Alcorn in a black and white dress

Leelah Alcorn's Death

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Leelah Alcorn's Suicide refers to the death of Ohio transgender teenager Leelah Alcorn, born Josh Alcorn, who committed suicide by stepping into traffic in late December 2014. The day after her death, her pre-scheduled suicide note was published via her Tumblr blog.


Alcorn was hit by a tractor trailer on Interstate 71 approximately four miles from her Ohio home.[1] The suicide note[2] attributed the reasons behind her depression and eventual suicide to the rejection from her family who, according to Leelah "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," took her to Christian therapists who told her "that I was selfish and wrong and that I should look to God for help." After being isolated by her parents from her peers for 5 months, she began to have suicidal thoughts. The note ends with a plea for her property to be sold and her money to be put to "trans civil rights and support groups," and for her death to mean something. The post gained several hundred thousand notes on Tumblr.

Online Reaction

News of Leelah's death spread quickly on Tumblr and Twitter garnering solemn sympathy and outrage, with transgender activists such as Laverne Cox, Andreja Pejic, Janet Mock and indy video game developer Brianna Wu [3] commenting, and posts about the circumstances of her suicide gaining upwards of 200 thousand notes.

Carla Wood Alcorn December 28 at 1:56pm 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. Thank you for the messages and kindness and concern you have sent our way Please continue to keep us in your prayers Share Transgender teen commits suicide, cites Christian parents in blog - December 29, 2014 by Michael Stone After years of abuse and rejection from strict Christian parents, an Ohio transgender teen commits suicide by stepping in front of a moving tractor trailer truck. Leelah Alcorn, also known as Joshua Alcorn, was struck and killed by a passing semitrailer on southbound Interstate 71 in Union Township Sunday morning. The tragic event appears not to have been an accident, but a suicide On her blog at Tumblr, Leelah left a poignant suicide note, detailing a life of pain and rejection, a life dominated by Christian parents who refused to understand, or simply could not understand, that their precious child was a female trapped in the body of a male In her final blog post Leelah writes If you are reading this, it means that I have committed suicide and obviously failed to delete this post from my queue One of these things is not like the other RIP Leelah Alcorn 246,930 notes

Transgender activist and writer Janet Mock, had her tweet widely shared on twitter, including being retweeted by Laverne Cox, actress from "Orange is the New Black" and transgender activist.

Janet Mock @janetmock Leelah's note checked parents on intolerance, challenged medical gatekeepers, highlighted power of social media & upheld self-determination. わt ★ … 2,146 1,740 7:43 AM -30 Dec 2014 RETWEETS FAVORITES

The story was picked up by several news outlets including Time[4], ABC news[5], The Daily Mail [6], Buzzfeed[7], USA Today[8], the Mirror[9], International Business Times[10], and Cincinnati.com[11].

"Rest in Power"

Rest in power is a phrase that's been associated with support for Leelah and her request that her death matter. Attributed to a tweet made by twitter user "Lionesse" it was mentioned in an article by the Washington Post[12] and has been adopted by many of the supporters and grievers since.

Lionesse Follow ultraaslanice My dear GIRL, baby SISTER #LeelahAlcorn We will make your voice heard. Rest in power beautiful. #SHEisLeelahAlcorn わ ★ RETWEETSFAORITE 236 288 12:39 AM-31 Dec 2014


#RealLiveTransAdult is a hashtag started in the wake of Leelah Alcorn's suicide for transgender adults to share their stories and encourage younger transgender people. The phenomena was mentioned in an article by NBC news[13].

NPR News follows Tom Léger @tomleger-4h station and I am a #ReaLiveTransAdult t34 ★26 Rebecca Juro @BeckyJuro-5h I'm 52. freelance journalist, radio host. My life isn't perfect but I love who I am now, Talk with me. I've been there. #Real LiveTransAdult わt311 ★20

Favorited 608 times Neil Gaiman @neilhimself - Dec 30 The #Real LiveTransAdult hashtag is filled with personal stories of good lives well-made and tragedies conquered. Moving, honest stuff わ t3 571 ★608

Change.org Petition

On December 30th a Change.org petition was started by the "Transgender Human Rights Institute" calling on President Obama and the US Congress to pass a law "to immediately seek a pathway for banning the practice known as 'transgender conversion therapy'" in order to protect transgender youth, and that they name it "the Leelah Alcorn Law."[14]

The petition gained over 100,000 signatures after one day.


"remembering-lazerprincess"[15] is a tumblr blog dedicated to the remembrance of Leelah Alcorn and the support of transgender causes. It's url and name are in reference to the Leelah's username on Tumblr and it's background theme is also the same as her original blog. It is run by two Australian based mods, a self-described bi-gendered individual and a trans man and has gained upwards of one thousand followers in the days after the suicide note came forward.

Parent's Response

On December 31 CNN released its interview with Leelah's mother, Carla Alcorn.[16]

In the interview she stated that there hadn't been a service due to threats for protest, that her child had only talked to her once about being transgender, that she worried about the hateful messages directed at herself and her husband that made them out to be "horrible people," that their two other children were very sad about the loss of their sibling and that the first time she had heard the name Leelah was in the suicide note.

"We don't support that, religiously," Alcorn's mother said of her child's transgender identity. "But we told him that we loved him unconditionally. We loved him no matter what. I loved my son. People need to know that I loved him. He was a good kid, a good boy."

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