The story of transgender teen Leelah Alcorn's suicide continued to make the rounds online Friday as more details about the 17-year-old's struggle came to light. Updates on her case include the discovery of her Reddit account, her mother's revealing interview with CNN and her burial. Also, her Tumblr suicide note was deleted, author Dan Savage urged police to criminally charge her parents and Twitter users bonded over the hashtag #RealLiveTransAdult.
This all came less than a week after Alcorn died Sunday after being hit by a tractor-trailer near Cincinnati, Ohio. A few hours after the incident, a scheduled post went live on her Tumblr: a suicide note. In it, Leelah described being rejected by her Christian parents and forced into conversion therapy. Her death drew attention from lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocates such as actress Laverne Cox and quickly made the news.
The transgender teen's mom, Carla Alcorn, was silent about her child's death until Thursday, when CNN published an exclusive interview with her. In the article, Carla Alcorn calls Leelah Alcorn by birth name, "Josh," and refers to her only with male pronouns. "I loved my son," the mother said. "He was a good kid, a good boy."
Carla Alcorn said she rejected Leelah Alcorn's request for transition surgery because the family couldn't afford it. She said she'd never even heard the name "Leelah" before. The mother confirmed she didn't support Leelah Alcorn's request to live as a girl, but said she loved her, or him, unconditionally.
A Reddit account appearing to belong to Leelah Alcorn tells a different story. On it, user nostalgiaprincess asked a transgender community whether her parents' treatment of her could be considered abuse. Her parents did not physically her hurt her, the user wrote, but they'd say things such as: "You'll never be a real girl" and "God's going to send you straight to hell."
The user added, "I tried my absolute hardest to live up to their standards and be a straight male, but eventually I realized that I hated religion and my parents."
The Reddit post's publication prompted author Savage to call for an indictment of Leelah Alcorn's parents. On Twitter, Savage wrote that an example needs to be made of them. He suggested charges such as child abuse, neglect, reckless endangerment and manslaughter.
We know that parental hostility & rejection doubles a queer kid's already quadrupled risk of suicide—rejecting your queer kid is abuse.
— Dan Savage (@fakedansavage) December 31, 2014
#LeelahAlcorn's parents threw her in front of that truck. They should be ashamed—but 1st they need to be shamed. Charges should be brought.
— Dan Savage (@fakedansavage) December 31, 2014
Savage linked to Leelah Alcorn's suicide note, which was taken down from Tumblr Friday. Her now-famous blog appears to have been deleted, just hours after a church representative told NBC News that the family buried her during a private service.
Leelah Alcorn's legacy lived on Twitter throughout these events, perhaps most notably inspiring #RealLiveTransAdult, a hashtag that showcases transgender people's success stories. It aims to encourage young people such as Leelah Alcorn to stick it out, because life will get better. Here are a few examples:
— d u ff y (@duffyc) January 2, 2015
Trans people don’t need reparative therapy. We’re NOT BROKEN. In fact, we are delightful. You. You’re delightful. #RealLiveTransAdult
— S. Bear Bergman (@sbearbergman) January 2, 2015
I thought being trans meant losing everything, instead I discovered what it felt like for my whole self to be loved #RealLiveTransAdult
— Robbie Dunning (@RobbieLWD) January 2, 2015
My partner of 11 years is a #RealLiveTransAdult. She is also a professor, and we are adoptive parents of 2 kids. I met her post transition
— Susan Forrest (@SCHA_losangeles) January 2, 2015
I'm a 43 year old software developer and #RealLiveTransAdult. Much more gained than ever lost. The World needs you to reach your potential.
— Carla Lewis (@manicsquirrel) January 2, 2015
I'm a #RealLiveTransAdult who is a religious leader within my community. Don't listen to anyone who says there's no place for us in religion
— Morgan M Page (@morganmpage) December 30, 2014
I'm an ordained priest in a church that celebrates me. I have friends who are family and a body and life I love. #RealLiveTransAdult
— Fr. Shay (@anarchistrev) December 30, 2014
Trans life may seem impossible, but I’m 31, a software engineer at Tumblr, a marathon runner, married, and totally a #RealLiveTransAdult
— Amelia Gapin (@EntirelyAmelia) December 30, 2014
In case you think there's no future , I'm a #RealLiveTransAdult & I'm 42. I work as a marine electronics engineer & have 3 kids and a wife.
— Justine ❤ Smithies (@JustineSmithies) December 30, 2014
I'm a #RealLiveTransAdult. I'm a published illustrator, I have friends, a home, and I learned to love my body despite transitioning at 24.
— 30 Helens (@isz_janeway) December 30, 2014