In the suicide note she left on Tumblr, trans* teen Leelah Alcorn said she wanted her death to "mean something." Though it should never take the tragic death of a 17-year-old to make people sit up and notice, her suicide has stirred many into action on social media to raise awareness about problems facing young trans* people.
At press time, 55,000 people had signed a Change.org petition to use Leelah's chosen name on her headstone instead of her birth name, Joshua. Created by fellow Ohio resident Stacy Syphax, the petition addresses Alcorn's mother, Carla L. Alcorn and asks to "have the correct name of Leelah Alcorn placed on her headstone in true remembrance."
Alcorn's Tumblr note, which was auto-published after she walked in front of an oncoming truck three miles from her home in Kings Mill, Ohio, recounts how her parents reacted when she came out as trans*. They took her to Christian therapists, removed her from school, and cut her off from her friends. This has led to another group, called Justice for Leelah, to post a petition (with 139,000 signatures and counting) asking President Obama and congress to enact a law banning so-called "Conversion Therapy." They're also calling for donations in Leelah's name to the Transgender Human Rights Institute.
Meanwhile, Leelah's death has inspired an "It Gets Better"-style hashtag on Twitter, #RealLifeTransAdult, in which members of the trans* community have been sharing stories of their struggles and triumphs. Click ahead to see some examples. Here's hoping other struggling teens find hope amid the sadness.