President Obama Supports Efforts to Ban Conversion Therapy for Minors
Washington, DC - This evening, President Obama issued a response to the White House "We the People" petition calling for an end to so-called conversion therapy. The response was issued to the over 120,000 supporters who signed the petition. In the response, White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett said:
"We share your concern about conversion therapy and its devastating effects on the lives of transgender as well as gay, lesbian, bisexual, and queer youth [...] As part of our dedication to protecting America’s youth, this Administration supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors."
Celebrating Valerie Jarrett's comments, National Center for Transgender Equality Executive Director Mara Keisling said:
"Having President Obama and the weight of the White House behind efforts to ban conversion therapy is so critical in the fight for transgender and LGB young people. My hope is that when a transgender person's struggle is acknowledged by one of the most recognizable figures in the world, it positively changes the way they view themselves. The pseudo-science that propels conversion therapy cannot match the self-acceptance that comes with this kind of change."
The "We the People" petition was launched in light of the tragic death of Leelah Alcorn, a transgender girl in Ohio who committed suicide after her parents refused to accept her and forced her into conversion therapy. In a widely shared note Alcorn published on her blog before her death, she called on all of us to "fix society."
Data from the 2011 National Transgender Discrimination Survey found that 41% of transgender people between the ages of 18-36 years old have attempted suicide at least once in their life.
Currently, California, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia have banned conversion therapy with several states including Illinois, Oregon, and Nevada considering similar action.
Edit: An earlier version of this press release incorrectly attributed the White House response to President Obama. The statement has been updated to reflect that White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett authored the response to the petition.