Teen Sparks a Difference Across America


Ray Toro’s new song “For the Lost and Brave” has been dedicated to Leelah Alcorn’s death. Toro had the song written for almost a year before deciding to release it to the public. After reading about Leelah and the things surrounding her death he says that, “It is time we learn to accept each other for who we truly are.” This was in reflection of Alcorn’s death along with an overall reflection of why Toro decided to dedicate this song to Alcorn.

Diana Rodgers, Staff Writer

In this day and age the terms gender and sex mean two different things. One person can be born as a male, which is their sex, but choose to identify as something other than male, which is their gender/gender identity. The term sex refers to one’s biological status whereas their gender is what one chooses to act as. One’s sex is a basis of who one is but their gender or how they choose to act is more of a psychological decision.

On December 28, 2014, a Transgender girl named Leelah Alcorn committed suicide due to alleged neglect and emotional abuse by her parents. Alcorn was a male to female (MTF) transgender who was living in a strict Christian home. The strict nature of her parents, along with their lack of support is what led to Alcorn’s death. Now, the two things, abuse and neglect, by themselves are horrible, but when abuse occurs because of an opposition to someone’s gender it takes a larger toll on the LBGT+ community and the community’s allies

When the public saw the suicide note online, Alcorn had already been deceased for several hours, but her suicide note had been queued to Tumblr for it to be posted later in the day. However when the note was finally posted, the news spread like wildfire throughout the Tumblr community. Many people online knew Alcorn personally or could sympathize for her situation, so her death was felt widely on the website. While the grieving process was still in full force the news came out about Alcorn’s funeral about how her parents were planning to handle it; it became known that Alcorn was going to be buried in a tux with her given name rather than her preferred name on the headstone. Upon hearing the news, the community became outraged. Additionally her suicide note has been taken down off of her Tumblr, which has since been deactivated due to her parent’s request, but can still be seen on multiple news sites and Tumblr pages.

In Alcorn’s letter, she states that her parents pulled her out of school and forced her into a series of controversial and dangerous treatments in order to change one’s sexual or gender orientation. This process is called Conversion Therapy.  Her parents have publically denied all the claims by saying, ”We told him that we loved him unconditionally,” but that, “We don’t support that religiously.”  Her parents have chosen to stay silent through much of the ordeal but the small things that they did contribute to the fire of the public.

While her death and the situations involving her home life were tragic cases, Alcorn’s death seems to be the spark that the public needed to start moving towards a better society. Within the last few sentences of Alcorn’s suicide note, she left a powerful challenge for the public, saying, ”My death needs to mean something. 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 say “that’s [messed up]” and fix it. Fix society. Please.” These words that were left in her wake have ignited the present day movement that the public is using to make a difference. Since Alcorn’s death, there have been countless bills brought to national attention to ban conversion therapy and strengthen the laws against emotional abuse. On a public level there was a song dedicated to Alcorn called “For the Lost and Brave”b  by ex-lead guitarist of the band My Chemical Romance, Ray Toro. In addition, Jill Soloway, producer and writer of the hit TV show Transparent, dedicated the show’s Golden Globe award to Alcorn and other transgendered people, who died at too early of an age.

Even to this day there are people fueled by Alcorn’s death who are fighting to change the way this country, as a whole, looks at gender identities and are continuing to take strides to change this society for the better. Alcorn’s life and death impacted many people, making it so issues in the transgendered community are finally brought to light and being addressed. Many strides have been take to improve society, but the LGBT+ community and allies will not rest until justice is brought to Alcorn’s death and more laws are created to recognize transgendered people and give them equal rights.