Leelah Alcorn was a 17-year-old transgender teen who committed suicide Dec. 28 of this past year. Born a boy named Joseph, she came out to her parents as transgender at 14 years old, and felt she was “a girl trapped in a boy’s body” since the age of four.
Alcorn wrote a suicide note on her Tumblr, published after her death, that called for better dialogue surrounding gender education and trans civil rights. She hoped her death (which could’ve been easily avoided) would spark a discussion and changes.
It’s pretty well-known that LGBT teens have a higher rate of suicides and suicide attempts than straight teens. According to The Trevor Project, LGBT youth (defined as ages 10-24) are “three times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers.”
For transgender teens, the numbers get more grim: The Youth Suicide Prevention Program cites national statistics that claim “more than 50% of transgender youth will have had at least one suicide attempt by their 20th birthday.” There seems to be discrepancy here, as The Trevor Project notes that 25% of transgender teens have attempted suicide, and almost 50% have thought about it. Either way, that’s pretty scary.
Familial (and friends’) support plays a big role in all teens’ lives, but is particularly needed for transgender teens. The Trevor Project cites a stat which posits that LGB teens who have “highly rejecting families” are 8.4 times more likely to attempt suicide. Though the site doesn’t include trans teens within this stat, it’s safe to say they probably face similar odds.
Leelah Alcorn’s death didn’t have to happen. It shouldn’t have happened at all. But I hope it begins the discussion she wanted and rightfully deserved.