Fixing society for Leelah Alcorn

Although Leelah Alcorn's parents did not allow her to wear girls' clothes, she tried on dresses in private.

Although Leelah Alcorn’s parents did not allow her to wear girls’ clothes, she tried on dresses in private.

Dec. 28: After leaving behind a suicide note on her Tumblr, 17-year-old Leelah Alcorn stepped out into traffic and was hit by a truck.

“Please don’t be sad, it’s for the better. The life I would’ve lived isn’t worth living in…because I’m transgender,” Alcorn wrote. “To put it simply, I feel like a girl trapped in a boy’s body, and I’ve felt that way ever since I was 4.”

Alcorn is not alone. UCLA estimates about 700,000 people in the United States identify as transgender. In certain cases, parents of transgender teens refuse to acknowledge their children as who they want to be, and in the case of Leelah Alcorn, misgendering them and sending them to Christian therapists who tell them that they are wrong about their identity.

“I told my mom, and she reacted extremely negatively, telling me it was a phase, that I would never truly be a girl, that God doesn’t make mistakes, that I am wrong. If you are reading this please don’t tell this to your kids,” Alcorn wrote. “That won’t do anything but make them hate themselves. That’s exactly what it did to me.”

Her post on Tumblr went viral before her parents told the Tumblr staff to delete her blog. Shortly after, Jan. 6 became the day of #PinkForLeelah, in which people painted their ring fingers pink. Freshman Alyssa Foy was among these supporters.

“I did it to bring it to our attention,” freshman Alyssa Foy said. “So if somebody asked, ‘Why is your finger painted pink, and none of your other nails are pink’, you could talk to someone about it. They can become more aware of what’s going on if they were blocking it out. It helps people who don’t understand or know much about it.”

There has also been talk about what else there is to do besides painting their nails pink. In her letter, Alcorn gave an idea: “Gender needs to be taught in schools, the earlier the better.”

“I think there definitely should be a lot more awareness,” Foy said. “If you say something, like ‘transgender’ in school, people might look at you like you’re crazy. It should be brought to attention because people don’t really understand what it really is and some people have such negative views about it, and it’s not a negative thing.”

Foy is not the only one to agree with Alcorn’s ideas. Several students are hoping that the school will educate students more. President of the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA), junior AJ McNamee also supports the idea of bringing more awareness to our school.

“Because of a lot of the recent trans events that have been going on, we can continue bringing this stuff to light,” McNamee said.

School officials are also looking into trans awareness.

“We’ve had two representatives from GSA educate our teacher leaders on transgender issues and provide common definitions recently,” Freshman Principal Kate Piffel said. “At this point, we are looking at ways to educate our staff, and working with the Director of Student Services in Parkway to educate the Parkway community.”

For the time being, one of the ways students can help support trans rights is joining the GSA.

“I think we are going to do more stuff in the GSA to bring awareness and light on the subject,” McNamee said. “Mainly, we are just being a safe place and creating a safe place for anyone LGBT.”

He also has hope for transgender rights becoming important soon.

“I feel like now there’s going to be a big trans movement and I’m really excited to see it,” McNamee said.

Even after death, Leelah Alcorn has sparked a match to light up the dream of equality for all transpeople. Tumblr artists continue to create fan art of her, tagging it with the motto “Rest in Power.”

“My death needs to mean something,” Alcorn wrote. “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***ed up’ and fix it.”

She leaves us with one piece of advice: “Fix society. Please.”