When 17-year-old trans girl Leelah Alcorn's suicide note was posted to her blog on December 29, 2014, gay Cincinatti councilman Chris Seelbach was one of the first local leaders to make her message public and urge Ohioans to think critically about how to better support trans youth in being themselves.
On Wednesday, Seelbach continued his efforts by delivering an emotional speech in which he read Leelah's note and added a heartfelt message of support to all LGBT youth struggling to feel accepted by loved ones or their religious commuinities.
In his speech (which can be viewed below), he read the entirety of Leelah's note, which explains the events and emotions that led up to the her stepping in front of a truck near her Kings Mills home on December 28. In her final words, she recounted how her trans identity was rejected by her devoutly Christian household and community members. Subjected to conversion therapy and feeling as if she would always be hopeless and disatisfied with her body, Leelah wrote that, "People say 'it gets better' but that isn't true in my case. It gets worse. Each day I get worse."
The 17-year-old concluded her letter by pleading, "My death needs to mean something. 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 fucked up' and fix it. Fix society. Please."
Seelbach's words directly address the hard daily realities of youth like Leelah who feel like, as he says, "polished media messages" that "It Gets Better" don't apply to them.
"The truth is we as a society, as a community, as a 'it takes a village' have failed you. We haven't spoken up enough, challenged the beliefs of people who tell you you aren't exactly the person God made you to be. Because you are," he stated in the video below. "... It may not get better with every day, but you can do it -- I know you can. If no one seems to have faith in you, I do. I do with every bone in my body."
Hear more from Seelbach below.