Hundreds gathered at Kings High School in Kings Mills, Ohio, on Saturday for a vigil to remember 17-year-old trans* teen Leelah Alcorn, who committed suicide last Sunday. Friends of Alcorn, as well as members of the LGBQT community were there to honor the teen and to support others who might be going through similar experiences.
Leelah stepped in front of a tractor-trailer last week, leaving behind a note on Tumblr explaining how hopeless she felt about being trans* in a family who wouldn't accept her identity. Letters from other teens around the world were read during the vigil, showing the impact of her suicide, and taking us one step closer to fulfilling her wish that her death "mean something."
"We've always been in the trenches fighting this problem, but this tragedy has really triggered a response," Jonah Yokoyama of the Heartland Trans Wellness Group told Cincinatti.com at the event.
Another measure of that response is the 268,000 signatures on Change.org to enact a law banning the kind of "conversion therapy" Leelah's parents put her through after she came out to them.
At the vigil, some who knew the Alcorns criticized their reaction to finding out Leelah was trans*.
"Leelah was not allowed to hang out with my son after she came out as gay," neighbor Annie Davis told People. "I knew this wasn't a good thing. Isolation is never a good thing."
The Alcorns defended themselves in an interview with CNN. While they didn't support her transitioning to female, Carla Alcorn said that they "told him that we loved him unconditionally. We loved him no matter what. I loved my son. People need to know that I loved him. He was a good kid, a good boy."
While still hoping other parents of trans* children can come to a better understanding of what their kids are going through, some leaders in the community are also urging everyone to allow the Alcorns time and space to grieve.