The death of a 16-year old teen from Ohio has now rocked the country. Not only does it seem tragic to lose someone at such a young age, it is also heartbreaking to discover what pushed her to end her life.
Leelah Alcorn threw herself to an incoming tractor trailed, which killed her life. The reason? She felt that her life isn’t worth living because she was a transgender. In the suicide note she left in her Tumblr blog, she described feeling “like a woman trapped in a boy’s body” since the age of 4.
The letter went on to describe the confusion she felt until she came across the meaning of a transgender when she was 14 and “cried of happiness.” She expressed hope in finally understanding what she is after all those year. When she turned 16 and asked for permission to transition, her Christian parents refused. Ever since they learned of her being a transgender, it proved to be difficult as it both her mom and dad do not acknowledge it.
Leelah took her own life because she believed her parents would never be able to fully accept her. She felt ashamed and isolated. A failure. In the end, she wanted her death to “mean something” and not just the end of her life. But more.
Leelah’s story is not an isolated case. Everyday, many transgender individuals consider taking their own lives because of the loneliness they feel. Around forty-one percent of transgenders attempt this to end their suffering. That is a high number. One can just imagine how rejected and abandoned one must feel to want to end their lives.
But this statistic does not have to rise. And it all begins with understanding. The reason the Leelahs in the world suffer is because the effort to refrain from understanding what they are going through is refused. We must extend empathy if we hope to not see the same incident happen again. Let us make her death mean something. Not just for her but for the society we live in.