A month after transgender teen girl Leelah Alcorn, known on Tumblr as “LazerPrincess,” tragically took her own life by walking into traffic on Dec. 28, more than 25 people gathered in the Founder’s Garden on Main Campus to honor the suicide victim with a moment of silence.
At 3:30 p.m., students and some members of the community bowed their heads in silent honor and remembrance of 17-year-old Alcorn’s too-short life. Temple Area Feminist Collective hosted the event to correspond with a worldwide Moment of Silence event organized by the Trans-Health Information Project. Also in attendance were members of student organizations Queer Student Union and Queer People of Color, as well as a fledgling Philadelphia organization called Serve the People – PHL.
One of TAFC’s creators, junior women’s studies major Morgen Snowadzky, and her co-member junior women’s studies major Riley MacDonald introduced the event’s purpose. Afterward, junior anthropology major and QSU president Shane Rubin read a personal letter to Alcorn, in which they said to the crowd, “I wish I had gotten a chance to meet her in person and convince her there are people who care.” Rubin recalled their own struggles with not feeling valued as they grappled with coming out as a non-binary trans man.
Attendees, shivering in the unforgiving temperature, gathered around a poster decorated with photos of Alcorn’s face and the slogan “Rest in Power,” honoring Alcorn’s suicide note on Tumblr that called for her readers to “fix society.” As MacDonald and other speakers noted, 41 percent of transgender people attempt suicide.
After the moment of silence had passed, several other people addressed the group. Kayla Raniero, a freshman communication sciences major who identifies as non-binary, announced to those gathered that the Trans Lifeline, a support service to transgender and non-binary people, is looking for trans and non-binary volunteers to man phones for those in need of a supportive ear. They also suggested any allies to the trans community try to get involved, regardless of their gender identity. Andrea Haulcoch, a part-time Community College of Philadelphia IT major, represented Serve the People, which she described as a “revolutionary and radical student organization.”
Haulcoch advocated collectivism of transgender and non-binary people to her listeners. She said Serve the People, which was formed about two months ago, is actively seeking members and hopes to continue working with the Temple community.
Erin Edinger-Turoff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @erinJustineET.
Editor’s Note: If you or someone you know is in need of immediate support, the Trans Lifeline U.S. number is 877-565-8860.