Leelah Alcorn’s Transgender Suicide Sparks ‘Leelah’s Law’ Petition To Ban Conversion Therapy


Leelah Alcorn, the 17-year-old transgender teen who committed suicide on Sunday morning in Kings Mill, Ohio, has prompted advocates to petition for “Leelah’s Law” – a bill to ban conversion therapy in the U.S. The petition on Change.org by the Transgender Human Rights Institute has more than 248,000 supporters and her suicide note which was posthumously published to Tumblr on Sunday has more than 200,000 shares.

The petition, addressed to Barack Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, calls for the president and House leadership to “immediately seek a pathway for banning the practice known as ‘transgender conversion therapy.'”

‘Conversion therapies’ have been documented to cause great harms and in this case, Leelah’s death.  Therapists that engage in the attempt to brainwash or reverse any childs gender identity are seriously unethical and legislation is needed to end such practices immediately.  Transgender youth have one of the highest suicide rates in the nation.  We must not allow therapists to increase those rates with therapy methodologies that have been demonstrated in harming transgender youth.

“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—d up” and fix it. Fix society. Please,“ Alcorn wrote. “My mom started taking me to a therapist, but would only take me to Christian therapists (who were all very biased), so I never actually got the therapy I needed to cure me of my depression,” Alcorn wrote in her letter. “I only got more Christians telling me that I was selfish and wrong and that I should look to God for help.”

Alcorn, who was born with the name Joshua, came out as transgender to her parents three years ago. As conservative Christians, they took away her phone, computer and enrolled her in an online high school. They told her, “God doesn’t make mistakes,” and took her to conversion therapy.

Even after the news of Leelah’s death and the appearance of her suicide note her mother refused to use female pronouns – “But we told him that we loved him unconditionally. We loved him no matter what. I loved my son. People need to know that I loved him. He was a good kid, a good boy.” Saying Leelah had accessed “inappropriate” content, she had then been banned from social media.

According to a 2013 survey, 41 percent of transgender Americans attempted suicide. That’s nearly nine times more than the overall U.S. population, which is 4.6 percent.  Gay, lesbians and bisexual adults have a 10 percent to 20 percent lifetime suicide attempt rate. Respondents who experienced rejection from their family and friends had higher rates of suicide attempts.

“The only way I will rest in peace is if one day transgender people aren’t treated the way I was, they’re treated like humans, with valid feelings and human rights. Gender needs to be taught about in schools, the earlier the better,” Alcorn wrote at the end of her letter. “My death needs to mean something.”

The pastor for the family of Leelah Alcorn,  says the family moved the location of her funeral and held it privately after receiving threats. Tim Tripp, pastor of the Northeast Church of Christ in Cincinnati, told NBC News that the funeral was moved because “the times and dates had been publicized, and the family’s received threats.” He also said that the family had heard there would be “disruptions” to her service. A local funeral home confirmed to NBC that Alcorn’s service was held there. The funeral home said her remains will be cremated.