Fixing society for Leelah Alcorn

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Fixing society for Leelah Alcorn

By Sydney Kinzy, Parkway West High School

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On December 28th, after leaving a suicide note on her Tumblr blog, 17-year-old Leelah Alcorn stepped out into traffic and was hit by a truck.

“Please don’t be sad, it’s for the better. The life I would’ve lived isn’t worth living in…because I’m transgender,” Alcorn wrote. “To put it simply, I feel like a girl trapped in a boy’s body, and I’ve felt that way ever since I was 4.”

Alcorn is not alone. UCLA estimates about 700,000 people in the United States identify as transgender. In certain cases, parents of transgender teens refuse to acknowledge their children as who they want to be. Alcorn’s parents sent her to Christian therapists who told her that she was mistaken about her identity.

“I told my mom, and she reacted extremely negatively, telling me it was a phase, that I would never truly be a girl, that God doesn’t make mistakes, that I am wrong. If you are reading this please don’t tell this to your kids,” Alcorn wrote. “That won’t do anything but make them hate themselves. That’s exactly what it did to me.”

Her post on Tumblr went viral before her parents told the Tumblr staff to delete her blog. Shortly thereafter, Jan. 6 became #PinkForLeelah day; people painted their ring fingernails pink in rememberance. Freshman Alyssa Foy was among these supporters.

If you say something like ‘transgender’ in school, people might look at you like you’re crazy…some people have such negative views about it, and it’s not a negative thing.”

— Alyssa Foy, freshman

“I did it to bring it to our attention,” freshman Alyssa Foy said. “So if somebody asked why your finger is painted pink, you could talk to someone about it….it helps people who don’t understand or know much about it.”

In her letter, Alcorn insisted that gender identity issues should be discussed in schools, “the earlier the better.” Foy agrees. “If you say something like ‘transgender’ in school, people might look at you like you’re crazy…some people have such negative views about it, and it’s not a negative thing.”

Foy is not the only one to agree with Alcorn’s ideas. President of the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA), junior AJ McNamee, believes that transgender issues in the news can help the school “continue bringing this stuff to light.”

School officials are also looking into trans awareness.

“We’ve had two representatives from GSA educate our teacher leaders on transgender issues and provide common definitions recently,” freshman principal Kate Piffel said. “At this point, we are looking at ways to educate our staff and the Parkway community.”

For the time being, one of the ways students can help support trans rights is joining the GSA. “Mainly, [the GSA is about] creating a safe place for anyone LGBT,” McNamee said.

Meanwhile, Tumblr artists continue to create fan art of Alcorn, tagging it with the motto “Rest in Power.”

“My death needs to mean something,” Alcorn wrote. “My death needs to be counted in the number of transgender people who commit suicide this year. I want someone to look at that number…and fix it.”