lazerprincess.tumblr.com, Alex Wong/Getty Images
Leelah Alcorn's final wish was that her death would mean something—and it turns out that her tragic fate may ultimately lead to more than she may have dared to hope for.
Responding to a petition started in honor of the late transgender teen, who committed suicide in December, the Obama administration announced Wednesday a call to end the practice of so-called "conversion" therapy aimed at LGBT and transgender 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," Obama senior advisor Valerie Jarrett wrote in the administration's official response to the petition, which has more than 120,000 signatures. "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."
"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," read a statement from President Barack Obama also posted online. "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."
Conversion therapy stems from the misguided belief that you can "correct" or talk a person out of their born sexuality.
"It was tragic, but I will tell you, unfortunately, she has a lot of company," Jarrett told the New York Times, referring to Alcorn's death. "It's not the story of one young person. It is the story of countless young people who have been subjected to this."
"Leelah explained how her parents had forced her to attend conversion therapy, pulled her out of school and isolated her in an attempt to change her gender identity," reads the petition that was first posted on Jan. 3, just days after Leelah died.
"'Conversion therapies' have been documented to cause great harms and in this case, Leelah's death. Therapists that engage in the attempt to brainwash or reverse any child's gender identity or sexual orientation are seriously unethical and legislation is needed to end such practices that are resulting in LGBTQ+ deaths. We respectfully seek your help to ban the practice known as 'conversion therapy' and name the bill in honor of Leelah Alcorn."
Leelah wrote in her suicide note: "The only way I will rest in peace is if one day transgender people aren't treated the way I was...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 f--ked up' and fix it.' Fix society. Please."
People are trying, Leelah. Promise.