The story of her short life and her decision to end it out of hopelessness might not sound too unusual for people familiar with trans biographies and the prevalent desperation of many transgender people.
It appears to be more for the clear symptomatology inherent in her case that caught the attention of the media who are generally rather reluctant when it comes to covering transgender issues. Yet, Leelah's explizit reproaches in her suicide note to her parents and society made it obviously easier for editors to develop the story of a child turning to her parents for help in a vitally important parting of the ways for her future life and being not only denied support but having everything made worse by the one's she depended on.
The story of her life and death has been quoted manififold in all kind of publications around the world. If you still have not read or heard about it, I suggest to read it in Leelah's own words.
Leelah had been born into a christian-evangelical family. After understanding about herself being transgender she confessed this fact to her parents who reacted "extremely negatively", said "that it was a phase" and that she would never truly be a girl.
As if this wasn't cruel enough, her parents send her to an Christian conversion therapist, a type of pseudo-scientific counselling that is condemned by all leading psychatric and psychological associations e.g. the American Psychiatric Association.
One does not need to possess an abundance of empathy to imagine the destructive force of those parent's actions for a teenage psyche. Yet, Leelah seemed quite composed, showing altruism even while writing her last words:
"The only way I will rest in peace is if one day transgender people aren’t treated the way I was, they’re treated like humans, with valid feelings and human rights. Gender needs to be taught about in schools, the earlier the better. My death needs to mean something. My death needs to be counted in the number of transgender people who commit suicide this year."By refering to the number of transgender suicides Leelah indicated the alarming figures that have stayed at a disturbingly high level during the years in most countries in the western world.
The latest survey on "Suicide Attempts among Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Adults" by the American Society for Suicide Prevention published in 2014 shows that 42% of trans women have attempted suicide. The average among the general population is just 1,6%!
Those are the numbers to which an absence of toleance and acceptance, support, integration and appreciation in a society leads to. Accordingly, Leelah's suicide note's closing line reads:
"I want someone to look at that number and say “that’s fucked up” and fix it. Fix society. Please."
Rest in Power, Leelah!
Image: "Leelah Alcorn" by wunking