Hundreds of supporters of the LGBTQ community came out in support of the lost life of Leelah Alcorn in Kings Mills, Ohio on Saturday (January 3).
The 17-year-old teen — named Josh Alcorn by her parents — took her own life on December 28, after her family reacted negatively to her coming out as transgender. She posted a note to Tumblr before letting hit by a truck.
"My death needs to mean something," Alcorn wrote in a note she scheduled to publish after the incident. "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 f–ked up' and fix it. Fix society. Please."
"Tonight is a night for Leelah and for the community," said Jonah Yokoyama, Transition Care Services Director of the Heartland Trans Wellness Group. "We've always been in the trenches fighting this problem, but this tragedy has really triggered a response."
Those reverberations were clear on the faces of the 200 - 300 folks at the 5:30PM vigil, held at the entrance to Kings High School — where Alcorn attended school before her parents pulled her from classes after Leelah's initial disclosure of her trans identity.
But that was not the only instance of isolation Alcorn's parents enforced: many of Alcorn's friends and neighbors had no idea she had come out as transgender, her social media privileges taken away following the revelation that she was transgender and no longer wanted to go by her birth name (Josh).
"Leelah was not allowed to hang out with my son after she came out as gay," explained Annie Davis to People. Davis and her children have lived next to the Alcorn family for 14 years. "I knew this wasn't a good thing. Isolation is never a good thing."
Raiden Quinn, a transgender person who went to school with Alcorn, also told People that the teen had reached out to her several times before parents restricted her access to social media.
"At the time I identified as a gay male but wore high heels and makeup," Quinn shared. "She always talked about how she felt people were not accepting of her," Quinn said. "It was really hard for me too when I went to school, and when she posted her last letter, I remember feeling exactly the same way she did when I was her age."
According to a report from Cincinnati.com, the event "began and ended with organizer's asking everyone to turn and 'embrace someone.' Every member of the crowd did, only at the end, no one had to ask."
If you’re struggling with issues of identity, head to Half of Us.
If you are transgender and thinking about suicide, or know someone who is, please contact the Trans Lifeline at (877) 565-8860.