Trigger warning: This post deals with suicide and transgender abuse. Some readers may find the article distressing.
More than 61,000 people have signed an online petition calling for transgender teen Leelah Alcorn to have her chosen name on her tombstone.
Leelah 17, ended her life near her Ohio home after penning a heartbreaking suicide note which she posted on Tumblr.
Leelah was raised as a boy named Joshua but she had identified as a girl since she was four.
She realised she was transgender at 14 but her devout Christian parents refused to accept her, instead forcing her to undergo conversion therapy and telling her that “God doesn’t make mistakes”.
Leelah’s mother has attracted criticism from around the world after posting a tribute to her “son” on Facebook and failing to acknowledge the suicide.
Now, the change.org petition wants Leelah’s chosen name to be placed on her tombstone, instead of her birth name.
“Her dying wish was to make her death mean something. Let’s make that wish a reality”.
Since Leelah’s death, there has been fresh calls to ban conversion therapy.
Transgender people have begun to share their stories on social media using the hashtag #RealLiveTransAdult, and well-known gay rights activist Dan Savage has claimed that Leelah’s parents should face charges.
Image via Leelah Alcorn’s Facebook page.
Leelah left this tragic plea on her Tumblr account before her death:
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. 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.
You can sign the petition to have Leelah’s name on her tombstone here.