Community Strength, Community Loss – Leelah Alcorn

Dear TransOhio friends, family and allies–

This definitely wasn’t my end of the year letter I was planning to email to everyone, but in light of the past few days I felt that a change of plan was due.

On Sunday morning, 17 yr old Leelah Alcorn from Kings Mills in Union Township took her life by stepping onto I-71 and was killed by a tractor-trailer.

Her suicide note has been shared around the world. Her final words are a call to action – “Fix Society. Please.”
My heart breaks. For Leelah. For her friends. And yes, for her parents. Regardless of the family dynamic, her parents have lost their child. And we’ve lost a trans-family member to suicide.

Suicide for me is a difficult topic to talk about. While my advocacy work forces me to be outgoing and an extrovert, I’m by nature an introvert and an observer – and I love my privacy. Leelah’s suicide reminds me of when I was 18. It was the summer after high school graduation and was going away to college. I was living with my grandparents, who I adored and loved dearly. I was living with my grandparents in Palm Springs (they lived in a retirement community) and I was miserable – bored to death, couldn’t find a summer job, no car and no local friends to share with. I was struggling with my sexuality and my gender identity – though, when I was 18, I knew nothing about either. I clearly remember a feeling of…despair. Pure despair. Like, no tomorrow despair. Honestly, I can’t remember how I got through that summer. I think I threw myself into my writing and into reading. I did make it though that summer and I’m thankful. And I know it’s not easy. And I know that I have privilidge in being able to say that – for many reasons and at many levels.

Regardless, we need to continue to “fix society” and continue to not only press for change, but also be active change agents.

We also need to make sure that we are supportive of one another. We have to be.

Some resources to share:

Auntie Kate (Kate Bornstein) wrote a book called Hello, Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks, and Other Outlaws — You can download (FREE) a pdf version:
http://katebornstein.typepad.com/kate_bornsteins_blog/hellocruelworld-litefree-download.html

If you’re interested in a full copy of the book itself, we have several available we can send out through TransOhio — If you’d like a copy, please email me at shane@transohio.org and we’ll make sure one gets to you.

The Trevor Project is available 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386. They provide crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth ages 13-24.

The Trans Lifeline is also available: US: (877) 565-8860 or Canada: (877) 330-6366

Please remember that it may not seem like things will get better, and honestly, maybe they won’t. But, there is a whole community of people who support you and love you and want to see you grow up and help us, as Leelah requested, “fix society.”

In community,
Shane Morgan
Founder & Chair, TransOhio