Hundreds gather to remember Leelah Alcorn

Published: Jan. 4, 2015 at 2:20 AM EST|Updated: Jan. 4, 2015 at 4:28 AM EST
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This photo was posted on Leelah's tumblr (Photo:
This photo was posted on Leelah's tumblr (Photo:

KINGS MILLS, OH (FOX19) - Hundreds gathered Saturday night at Kings High School to remember Leelah Alcorn, the local transgender teen whose suicide note, released on social media, is sparking a national conversation about transgender youth.

The rally was to mourn Leelah's death and to call for more dialogue.

Leelah died on Interstate 71 on Dec. 28 after being stuck by a truck. Final results will be released once toxicology results are back, but the Warren County Coroner's Office says Leelah's death was likely a suicide.

[Related: Local teen's death sparks worldwide transgender discussion]

Transgenderism is a subject that is poorly understood in our society and difficult for many to talk about, including those who describe themselves as transgender.

Organizers of the rally hope Leelah's tragic death will serve as a learning opportunity and help the community begin to heal.

"That's what doing these kinds of events helps us do. It helps the public, you know, understand what it is to be transgender, what it is to be gay," Adam Hoover said.

Hoover who founded Marriage Equality Ohio says he can identify with a lot of Leelah's struggles. Struggles shared by many in the LGBTQ community, but he says having a such a large crowd show up gives him hope those struggles might be easing.

"I'm just happy that there's actually, you know, in this kind of conservative part of Ohio so many people that are actually out caring about her story and, you know, spreading it," Hoover said.

Rally organizer, Lindsey Deaton, says there's still an element of fear.

"We transgender people have been here always and the reason you haven't seen us is because we're afraid," Deaton said.

Fears that were all to familiar to Leelah, fears which she shared with her friend Azalea Laverde.

"Yeah, she would talk about it a lot and it was very difficult. You know, I supported her. It was very difficult to really help her because it was something I didn't experience," Laverde said.

"It's our mission both as trans people and as members of the greater community and greater society to address this issues not just today, but continually so that this does not continue to be a problem," Jac Stringer said.

And there is support out there for those who need it.

"I think most of all we want young people to have hope. It makes me still cry that Leelah didn't see any hope and there are plenty of people out there from pastors to counselors to parents that will help," Reverend Joy Simpson said.

Leelah's family didn't attend the rally.

Another event is scheduled for 7 p.m. Jan. 10 at the Cultural Arts Center.

More than 258,000 people have signed a petition asking to ban transgender conversion therapy,

The Transgender Human Rights Institute posted the petition on Dec. 31 asking President Barack Obama and the leadership of the House and Senate to begin the process of banning transgender conversion therapy throughout the nation.

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