December 28 marks the one-year anniversary of the tragic death of 17-year-old Leelah Alcorn. Alcorn, who was transgender, walked into Cincinnati traffic to end her life. In her suicide note, Alcorn wrote that others — including members of her family — didn't accept her transgender identity. On Monday, Cincinnati honored Alcorn's life with a memorial vigil. Friends and the community at large also celebrated measures that the city has taken since Alcorn's death to help transgender individuals. Alcorn's death inspired a City of Cincinnati ordinance, passed earlier this month, which bans LGBT conversion therapy for minors. The ban fines therapists who attempt to use the discredited method on children. According to Alcorn's suicide note, her parents had forced her to attend conversion therapy treatment.
Alcorn's death had national implications, too. After a petition directed at the White House to ban conversion therapy gained more than 120,000 signatures, Obama called on Congress and individual states to act on transgender rights. The organizers of the vigil stressed that transgender individuals need access to emergency shelters and medical care. Since Alcorn's death, the number of patients at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center's transgender health clinic has tripled.
Ohio also named a memorial highway in Alcorn's honor. While it won't change the circumstances surrounding her death, Cincinnati's progress towards providing services for LGBT individuals can help pave the way for more acceptance across the United States.