Gay Christian and social commentator Vicky Beeching has called the suicide of a transgender teenager a 'wake up call to the Church'.
Leelah Alcorn, born Joshua Ryan Alcorn, walked in front of a tractor trailer in Warren County, Ohio on Sunday and scheduled a suicide note to be posted on Tumblr after her death.
Alcorn, 17, detailed her desire to transition to a female on her blog, and the opposition she received from her family.
"When I was 14, I learned what transgender meant and cried of happiness," Alcorn wrote. "After 10 years of confusion I finally understood who I was.
"I immediately told my mom, and she reacted extremely negatively, telling me that it was a phase, that I would never truly be a girl, that God doesn't make mistakes, that I am wrong.
"If you are reading this, parents, please don't tell this to your kids. Even if you are Christian or are against transgender people don't ever say that to someone, especially your kid.
"That won't do anything but make them hate them self. That's exactly what it did to me."
Alcorn said her family took her to Christian therapists, pulled her out of school, and kept her off social media. They refused to allow her to start transitioning at the age of 16.
"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," she wrote.
"People say 'it gets better' but that isn't true in my case. It gets worse. Each day I get worse."
The teen hoped that her suicide would help other transgender people and that she wanted her personal savings and money raised through the sale of her possessions to go to trans civil rights movements and support groups.
"My death needs to mean something. My death needs to be counted in the number of transgender people who commit suicide this year," she said.
"Leelah's story is utterly heartbreaking," Vicky Beeching told Christian Today. "It's yet another wake-up call to the Church; a reminder that what is taught from Sunday pulpits about LGBT theology is literally a matter of life and death."
Beeching, a former worship leader whose coming out was widely documented in 2014, said many churches are shying away from having conversations about how be more welcoming to LGBT Christians.
"Sexuality can be a controversial and sometimes awkward topic to discuss or preach on," she said. "Stories like Leelah's ring an alarm bell, urgently demonstrating that the conversation needs to happen in every church, in every priest and pastor's heart and mind, and it needs to happen now before further lives are lost."