In the wake of her her suicide, 17-year-old Leelah Alcorn has been memorialized in at least a half-dozen vigils this week, in locations including the trans teen's hometown of Kings Mills, Ohio; Portland, Ore.; Orlando, Fla.; and even as far away as Canada and London. Others have taken part in an ongong Online Vigil for Leelah Alcorn, reports The Washington Times.
Friday's vigil in Columbus drew as many as 400 mourners, who gathered to hear speeches and poetry in remembrance of a girl who has touched hundreds of thousands of hearts with a public suicide note, now removed from her Tumblr blog, which read, "My death needs to mean something."
Alcorn took her life December 28. Her note, which was scheduled to post online hours after her passing, described her anguish at not being able to express her authentic gender while in a restrictive Christian household. The teen's assertion that she was taken to "reparative therapy" to stop her from being trans has led more than 280,000 to sign a Change.org petition to ban the practice that has been denounced as harmful by many mental health experts, including American Psychological Association.
Outrage also has been expressed at Alcorn's parents, particularly her mother, Carla Alcorn, who has remained steadfast in referring to her child with a male name and pronouns, using her birth name on her grave marker, and insisting that transgender identity is not something she religiously "supports."
As Leelah's supporters now turn their eyes to the future, considering how to prevent more trans youth suicides, one Ohio trans activist and mother says that, in part, change will come through parents.
"It falls to the transgender people here to be the kinds of visible possibility models that show kids that transgender people can lead rich, fulfilling, amazing lives," Brynn Tannehill told The Advocate the morning after delivering a speech at the Columbus vigil (watch video of Tannehill's speech below). "We need the the allies here to show that there is also love in the world for transgender people. We need to be the kinds of parents whose children can come to us and say, 'Mom, Dad, I need to talk to you.'"
Look at the photos below to see how others have remembered Leelah Alcorn.
A crowd of 300-400 people gathered at a Friday vigil in Columbus (above) to mourn the teen's passing and call for an end to so-called transgender conversion therapy that attempts to dissuade people from being trans.