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Leelah Alcorn Documentary Debuts This Weekend

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Courtesy Leelah's Highway
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The 2014 suicide of 17-year-old transgender teen Leelah Alcorn put a national spotlight on the issue of conversion therapy, leading Cincinnati Council to ban the practice within the city. At least 11 states have followed suit. A new documentary looks at life after Alcorn's death.

Born Joshua Alcorn, the Kings Mills teen killed herself on I-71 in December 2014 after her parents sent her to conversion therapy at age 16.

Alcorn left behind a note asking for acceptance for people who are transgender. "Fix society," she pleaded.

Chris Fortin led the effort to adopt a section of Interstate 71 in her honor, and organizes several litter pick-up dates throughout the year. The filmmakers asked him to be in the documentary.

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Credit Courtesy Leelah's Highway
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Chris Fortin shown in an still image from the documentary Leelah's Highway.

"They share the same idea as I do," he says. "They want to have her remembered, prevent future loss of life, and... if you want to look at it in black and white, that's exactly what she asked for in her suicide note: 'Fix society. Please do something.'"

Fortin thinks those who see the 24-minute film will be touched.

"We talked to so many local Cincinnati people who were involved in the transgender community and we talk about how we can move forward," he says. "People are going to be informed, they're going to be moved, they're going to be reminded who Leelah was."

The film makes its premier Friday evening at the Woodward Theater as part of the Cindependent Film Festival.

https://vimeo.com/272466496" target="_blank">Here's the film's trailer.

Tana Weingartner earned a bachelor's degree in communication from the University of Cincinnati and a master's degree in mass communication from Miami University. Prior to joining Cincinnati Public Radio, she served as news and public affairs producer with WMUB-FM. Ms. Weingartner has earned numerous awards for her reporting, including several Best Reporter awards from the Associated Press and the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and a regional Murrow Award. She enjoys snow skiing, soccer and dogs.