All over the world, people are mourning the death of 17-year-old transgender teenager Leelah Alcorn, who reportedly stepped in front of a truck on Sunday morning in Ohio. Just hours after her death, Alcorn published a pre-scheduled heartbreaking Tumblr post describing years of emotional abuse and trauma due to the fact that she was transgender.
“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,” Alcorn wrote. “My death needs to mean something.”
In the wake of her tragic death, the transgender community has rallied to assure teenagers like Alcorn that there is a larger system of support, and that every life matters. More importantly, it’s that—to echo a similar campaign for LGBT teens spearheaded by Dan Savage—it gets better. It’s a powerful message, and one that needs to be heard, in light of the alarming suicide attempt rates in the transgender community, and in particular for those under 20. According to the Youth Suicide Prevention Program, over 50% of transgender youth have made at least one suicide attempt by their 20th birthday.
It’s unacceptable that so many young people are facing intolerance and aren’t getting the support they deserve, which is why, as a reaction to Alcorn’s heart-wrenching note, adult members and supporters of the trans community are taking a stand on social media, hoping to inspire younger people to hold out hope for a better life, by posting positive messages along with the hashtags #RealLifeTransAdult and #RealLiveTransAdult.
Here are just a few of the messages of hope for transgender young people posted to help prevent more devastating tragedies:
It’s powerful and touching to see so many people come together in the wake of this tragedy to offer help, show solidarity and teach, not only transgender teens, but the world at large, that tolerance, love and acceptance are vital in the fight for equality.