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Leelah Alcorn: Over 53,000 sign petition urging family to put ‘correct’ name on tombstone

Leelah Alcorn: Over 53,000 sign petition urging family to put ‘correct’ name on tombstone

At the time of writing, just over 53,000 had signed a petition on change.org urging the family of Leelah Alcorn to use her chosen female name on her tombstone.

Alcorn, aged 17, died in a suspected suicide in the early hours of Sunday morning.

She had been struck by a truck on an Interstate near her hometown in Ohio. Police are continuing to investigate the incident.

Following her death, a pre-prepared blog entry that Alcorn had scheduled to appear on her Tumblr account, detailing her suicidal thoughts, went online. In it, she talked about being transgender, and the trouble she had had trying to convince her parents to allow her to transition – something they had forbidden her from doing before she was 18.

‘Either I live the rest of my life as a lonely man who wishes he were a woman or I live my life as a lonelier woman who hates herself. There’s no winning. There’s no way out. I’m sad enough already, I don’t need my life to get any worse,’ she wrote.

On the same day that Leelah died, her mother, Carla Wood Alcorn of Kings Mill, Ohio, later posted a message on Facebook, that read: ‘My sweet 16 year old son, Joshua Ryan Alcorn went home to heaven this morning. He was out for an early morning walk and was hit by a truck. Thank you for the messages and kindness and concern you have sent our way. Please continue to keep us in your prayers.’

Alcorn’s death has again highlighted the disproportionate number of deaths amongst trans youngsters, and has led to an international outpouring of grief.

The Williams Institute of Los Angeles published research last year that estimated over 40% of trans people have attempted suicide at some stage in their life.

Many trans groups and campaigners are angry at media coverage of Leelah’s death. Some local media reporting on her death did not mention that she was transgender.

The Change.org petition was started on 30 December by Stacy Syphax of Ohio. It reads: ‘Having the correct name of Leelah Alcorn on the tombstone of the late member of the transgender community would only be doing what should already be done … Her dying wish was to make her death mean something. Let’s make that wish a reality.’

Alcorn’s parents – who have been subjected to a huge amount of online criticism in the wake of Leelah’s death – have so far not responded to media enquiries.

A minister at the church where Alcorn’s wake and funeral service will be held told NBC that he could not comment. Tim Tripp of Northeast Church of Christ said, ‘Our focus right now is to help a family broken by tragedy to grieve and heal’.