The suicide nearly two months ago of Warren County (near Cincinnati) teenager Leelah Alcorn triggered a national soul-searching about gender identity, suicide, parent-child relationships and social progress.
Global attention to Alcorn's death came amid growing awareness of the transgender experience, particularly in the past three years with the shot to stardom of actress Laverne Cox. Less than a week before Alcorn's death, movie stars Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie announced that their 8-year-old child, a girl named Shiloh at birth, preferred to be called John and to wear boy's clothes. Olympic gold medalist and reality-TV star Bruce Jenner isreportedly transitioning, at 65, from male to female.
The Internet ignited and fueled the conversation about Alcorn. She posted a wrenching suicide note on the social media site Tumblr that flashed across the world. (The Tumblr posting has since been taken down.) A friend also posted Alcorn's selfie posing in a dress, a photograph that artists adapted around the world. That was only the beginning:
• The #leelahalcorn Twitter hashtag continues to generate rolling traffic. A petition drew thousands of signatures urging Congress to ban therapy that aims to dissuade people with questions about gender identity or sexual expression.
• Vigils were held in Cincinnati, across Ohio and the nation in Alcorn's memory; demonstrations were held as far away as New Zealand.
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