Leelah Alcorn was a transgender high school student who should never have died at age 17.
She lived in a suburb of the first city in the Midwest to offer transgender inclusive health benefits, where gender identity and expression are included in the local anti-discrimination ordinance. Leelah lived 30 minutes from the critical health and counseling services she longed for.
Yet profound misinformation about gender identity, sexual orientation and the needs and experiences of LGBT and gender-diverse children and adolescents prevented her from receiving appropriate mental health care and counseling services she urgently sought.
Since Dec. 28, Leelah’s tragic suicide has ignited anger and rage among so many LGBT people who have experienced the same isolation, family rejection, dehumanization and despair that led Leelah to take her life. Though I never met Leelah or her parents, my colleagues and I at the Family Acceptance Project have worked with scores of LGBT children, youth and families just like hers.
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