Transgender teen's plea to society goes viral after reported suicide

(lazerprincess/tumblr/ABC News)

An appeal to change the way society views transgender people has gone viral after the teen who is believed to have posted it died.

Seventeen-year-old Leelah Alcorn, who was born Joshua Alcorn, died Sunday after being hit by a truck, according to police. ABC News learned that the death is being investigated as a possible suicide.

"There's no winning. There's no way out," read the note, posted to Tumblr (Warning: Note contains strong language).

The note was written by Alcorn, according to ABC affiliate WCPO.

The note said that Alcorn's parents did not accept her transgender identity. It also said that their lack of support and society's treatment of transgender people led her to commit suicide.

Alcorn's family could not be reached by ABC News, but WCPO reported that Alcorn's mother posted the following message on her Facebook page:

    "My sweet 16-year-old son, Joshua Ryan Alcorn went home to heaven this morning. He was out for an early morning walk and was hit by a truck. Thank you for the messages and kindness and concern you have sent our way. Please continue to keep us in your prayers."

The note reported to have been written by Alcorn has been shared or favorited by more than 190,000 Tumblr users. The message was spread across several social media platforms, including Facebook, where a Cincinnati city councilmember, Chris Seelbach, posted it as a call to action, saying, "We can do better."

"It's an incredibly difficult and horrible situation that a 17-year-old would feel the best alternative is to step in front of a semi," Seelbach told ABC News. "It shows how far we need to come on transgender issues."

A friend told WCPO that Alcorn had come out as gay and was met with support. The note said that the author came as as gay because "maybe if I eased into coming out as trans it would be less of a shock."

The note said that the author was taken out of public school and not allowed to communicate with friends for five months after she came out as gay. The author also told her parents that she wanted to begin transitioning treatment to become a woman, but her parents said no, the note said.

A Facebook page to remember Alcorn has 18,000 likes and counting.

The note, which started out by detailing the author's life and relationship with her parents, finished by detailing the societal pressures that she said kept her from being able to be happy. She pleaded that changes be made following her death.

"The only way I will rest in peace is if one day transgender people aren't treated the way I was," the note read. "Gender needs to be taught about in schools, the earlier the better."

"My death needs to mean something."

If a friend or loved one expresses thoughts of suicide, seek help. You can reach the National Suicide Prevention help line at 800-273-TALK (8255).
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