One hundred thousand. That’s the number of signatures it takes for a petition to be viewed by the President’s administration, and the quantity of names on the call to action written in honor of Leelah Alcorn, a transgender teen who committed suicide last year. The petition proposes “Leelah’s Law,” which—if enacted—would require all states practicing conversion therapy to stop.
Conversion therapy is a practice based off the belief that someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity can be changed through mental and physical exercises (which we’d like to point out is not possible). Forced onto minors who have no legal say outside of what their parents want, conversion therapy uses tactics such as inducing nausea, vomiting, or paralysis while showing homoerotic images and inducing pain through temperature, needles, or even electric shock. It’s medieval torture at best. Every major medical and mental health organization discredits this kind of therapy as a.) harmful and b.) ineffective. Duh.
On behalf of the Obama administration, Valerie Jarrett formally responded to the petition earlier today:
“…We share your concern about its potentially devastating effects on the lives of transgender as well as gay, lesbian, bisexual, and queer youth.
When assessing the validity of conversion therapy, or other practices that seek to change an individual’s gender identity or sexual orientation, it is as imperative to seek guidance from certified medical experts. The overwhelming scientific evidence demonstrates that conversion therapy, especially when it is practiced on young people, is neither medically nor ethically appropriate and can cause substantial harm.
As part of our dedication to protecting America’s youth, this Administration supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors.”
An eloquent quote from President Obama was also included in Jarrett’s response:
“Tonight, somewhere in America, a young person, let’s say a young man, will struggle to fall to sleep, wrestling alone with a secret he’s held as long as he can remember. Soon, perhaps, he will decide it’s time to let that secret out. What happens next depends on him, his family, as well as his friends and his teachers and his community. But it also depends on us — on the kind of society we engender, the kind of future we build.”
So yeah, right now there may only be bans on this horrendous form of therapy in California, New Jersey, and D.C. (where the White House has gender neutral bathrooms), but it is safe to say that this small step might lead to something much bigger.
Images c/o of LeelahsLaw