Justice for Leelah: President Barack Obama defends LGBT youth by supporting a ban on conversion therapy, the despicable attempt to force a child or young adult to reverse their sexual orientation or gender identity, often to satisfy the religious superstition and bigotry of ignorant parents.
Late last year transgender teen Leelah Alcorn committed suicide after years of abuse and rejection from strict Christian parents, parents who forced Leelah to attend conversion therapy. In the process Leelah was removed from her school and friends and isolated, all in a profoundly misguided and cruel attempt to change her gender identity.
In an eloquent and heartbreaking suicide note Leelah detailed her tragic and unhappy life, and the pain, suffering and torment caused by the so-called conversion therapy, also known as reparative therapy. In response to Leelah’s tragic suicide and eloquent plea on behalf of transgender youth, there was a large public outcry, and a petition was circulated asking the Obama administration to put an end to conversion therapy.
The petition was successful, gathering over 120,000 signatures, and yesterday President Barack Obama announced he would support a ban on “the practice known as conversion therapy.”
The official statement from the White House reads in part:
This Administration supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors… 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.
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.
By offering his support for a ban on conversion therapy, Obama begins to answer a plea made by Leelah in her moving suicide note:
The only way I will rest in peace is if one day transgender people aren’t treated the way I was, they’re treated like humans, with valid feelings and human rights. Gender needs to be taught about in schools, the earlier the better. My death needs to mean something. My death needs to be counted in the number of transgender people who commit suicide this year. I want someone to look at that number and say “that’s fucked up” and fix it. Fix society. Please.
By supporting a ban on the barbaric practice of conversion therapy, Obama honors Leela’s plea, and defends LGBT youth from religious charlatans and others who would hide behind discredited and debunked “medical science” to abuse, harass, terrorize and bully vulnerable youth.
By supporting a ban on conversion therapy, Obama honors the memory of Leelah Alcorn, gives new meaning to her tragic death, and begins to “fix” society.