Conversion Therapy - The Quiet Killer
Written By: Gina Duncan, Director of Transgender Inclusion
Leelah Alcorn, after being subjected to constant bullying and harassment, was then subjected to so called "conversion therapy" by her own family. Soon thereafter, Leelah, a 17 year-old transgender woman, took her own life by stepping in front of an oncoming truck.
Leelah experienced all of the horrors that transgender people fear most: Social isolation, being ostracized by family members, abandoned by friends, harassment and bullying at school and the greatest fear of all ~ that things were not going to get better anytime soon.
You see, the conscious and perilous act of choosing to transition, to finally be your authentic self, is one that most of us cannot control. We take the step to live our truth because we can no longer live a lie. We can no longer look in that mirror each day and despise the face that looks back at us in disgust. So, with our hearts in our hands we reach out to those who supposedly love us and plead for support and for understanding. In Leelah's case she found only blind ignorance and distain.
Subjecting her to conversion therapy was the lethal blow. This validated that her family did not accept the person that Leelah was trying to be. This dismissed Leelah's lifelong belief that she could be truly happy if she could just be herself. This confirmed to her that her family believed she was broken and needed to be fixed by extreme measures. And ultimately, "conversion therapy" was her death sentence.
The White House announced on Wednesday that the "Administration supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors." The statement, posted to the White House blog by Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett, comes as an official response to a "We the People" petition that called on the Administration to "Enact Leelah's Law to Ban all LGBTQ+ Conversion Therapy." More than 120,000 people signed the petition, which took its name from the tragic story of Leelah Alcorn.
"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," said the White House. The statement goes on to outline legislative actions already taken in states like New Jersey, which bans the harmful practice on minors, and notes that "While a national ban would require congressional action, we are hopeful that the clarity of the evidence combined with the actions taken by these states will lead to broader action that this Administration would support."
"No child should ever have to endure the nightmarish trauma of so-called 'conversion therapy,'" said GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. "For more than a decade, medical authorities have denounced this as both dangerous and ineffective. At a time when LGBT youth already face horrific rates of bullying, we must do better to ensure their safety both at school and at home by banning so-called 'conversion therapy' on minors once and for all."
Equality Florida also denounces the use of barbaric "conversion therapy" and we applaud the Obama administration for taking such a visible and decisive stand against this "quiet killer." Trans Lives Matter.