Sign More Petitions: White House Endorses Ban on Conversion Therapy

Earlier this year, transgender teen Leelah Alcorn committed suicide and said, in her suicide note, that her family had forced her to see Christian therapists who told her that she was  “selfish and wrong and that I should look to God for help.” Soon after, a White House petition was launched on Change.org, calling for a national ban on so-called “conversion therapy” for gay and transgender youth. The petitioners want a new law, called “Leelah’s Law” to enforce this ban.

Just in case you think that signing all those Change.org petitions doesn’t do anything: Yesterday the White House responded to the petition, agreeing that conversion therapy is a very bad thing. (In related news, the White House also warned against running with scissors and staring into the sun.)

According to a release by White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett: “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. … Negative family reactions to LGBTQ+ youth can be perceived as rejection by children, often contributing to serious health issues and inhibiting a child’s development and well-being. And when it comes to LGBTQ+ youth, some actions by family and caregivers can be harmful, despite even the best intentions.”

There’s a long road ahead, of course. So far, only California, New Jersey, and Washington, DC have banned conversion therapy for minors. There are bans pending in other states, but Republicans continue to vote them down — as happened in Virginia recently. Still, people spoke up, via a petition, and the White House listened. And that, people, is what we call a very good start.



  1. Ha, glad to hear it Johnny! And no worries, we just realized that we made the same mistake as you in one of our posts (We said: “We do agree, though, that in many ways, it makes sense for conversion to wait until mental and physical development is complete. But unfortunately, as that video points out, this severely limits the kind of conversion that can take place.” When clearly we meant to say “transition” not conversion.”

    Also, totally with you on that truck driver thing!

  2. Oh what a jackass I am. I totally misunderstood some very major points here. I confused “conversion” and “transition.”

    Transition is when a person goes from biological gender to perceived gender. Conversion is the other way around – it’s “cure” therapy that seeks to dispel transsexuality, and it’s considered unethical, ineffective, and abusive.

    I meant that transition therapy should only happen for mature, of-age people. Conversion therapy should happen never.

    Based on my mistake, I thought the White House opposed transition therapy for minors, and I thought, “good! Doctors shouldn’t put tits on little boys!” In fact, the White House opposes conversion therapy for minors – big difference! don’t I feel silly! – and I object to that too.

    I thought that Leelah’s Law opposed the White House’s stance, which, based on my misunderstanding, would mean that they support tits-on-little-boys therapy. In fact, Leelah’s Law supports the White House’s opposition to unethical, harmful conversion therapy.

    That’s what happens when you get all pissed off and internet rant after half-reading something. I have become that which I most scorn, and I consider myself chastened.

    Ok, so after all that, turns out I support Leelah’s Law.

  3. … and if I petitioned to get therapy for anyone here, know who I’d petition for? Unwilling victims of assisted suicide. Like truck drivers who have someone leap in front of their ride. Poor bastard. What did HE ever do to deserve that?

  4. Hang on, you’re conflating “belief” and “choice,” which misrepresents my position. I don’t believe that transsexualism is a choice. I acknowledge that it is biologically rooted, whereas religion is socially rooted. Even so, they both make assertions that for many people are hard to accept. And I don’t think that a lifetime of social conditioning is all that easy to undo, anyway.

    … not that Christians or transsexuals need to undo anything about themselves to make anyone else happy. I believe that both groups are entitled the pursuit of happiness.

    Here’s my problem:

    1. I see this as two groups, both of whom care more about ideas than about the actual people involved, fighting over a teenager’s corpse.

    2. I see major flaws in the logic used by both sides, which makes me want to side with neither side.

    I think assholes should stop giving transsexuals a hard time. It’s none of their business. I also think transsexuals need to accept that expecting society to acknowledge their truth as THE truth, us asking an awful lot. No, it’s not an easy thing for most people to wrap their heads around. I mean, come on, I’m sure skepticism is an understandable stance here.

    So my way of handling transsexualism is not to engage it as a social issue, but to treat individuals with respect. When I encounter a transsexual I have no reaction. No stare, no snigger, no surprise. I just treat them like I’d treat anyone else. I think if everyone did it my way it wouldn’t matter what anyone’s private opinion on the matter is.

  5. All the recent research points to BIOLOGY as the cause of transgenderism — it’s not a lifestyle choice, just like being gay is not a lifestyle choice. You might be a boy in one single way (anatomically), but emotionally, psychologically, cerebrally and perhaps chemically and hormonally, you’re a girl. Religion, on the other hand, IS a choice — it’s an IDEOLOGY one is brought up on or converts to or dismisses. It’s not something you’re born with, you’re taught it; it’s not internal, it’s external. These are huge differences which make equating a “belief” in jesus to a “belief” that you were born in the wrong body seriously flawed. Seems more like a trick of semantics.

    And when bad ideas based on mythology start infringing on other people’s rights to self-actualize and do them grave harm emotionally — e.g. strong religious beliefs in the inferiority of blacks, women, gays, the transgendered — it’s the responsibility of people like you and us to defend those rights and poke holes in flimsy religious arguments (arguments like “you’re going to burn in hellfire for all eternity for being born the way god made you”). That’s how we morally advance as a species.

  6. My real beef with the whole thing, as usual, is that the media is quick to sensationalize, and interest groups on both sides are quick to exploit, what I see as a personal tragedy for a real family. I know you aren’t vilifying them, but a lot of people are treating them like the worst scum in the history of parenthood, and the whole “Leela’s Law” thing definitely has to salt that family’s wounds.

  7. No, I don’t think homosexuality is a belief. A gay man thinks he is attracted to men, and he is attracted to men.

    Whereas a trans woman believes she is a woman, but is biologically a man. That’s a “belief,” for lack of a better word. Just like Christians believe stuff that is observably contradictable. They hold those beliefs central to their identities too.

    I’ll use whatever pronoun a trans person wants me to use though, just like I’ll join hands in prayer with Christian relatives on holidays. That’s because I respect the people even if I don’t believe the same thing they believe. That’s why I would never vote for a ban on conversion therapy for minors. Because I don’t want to be part of the group that fucks with trans people for no reason. Not sure I’m gonna run out and vote against one either though

  8. Hmm, not sure we agree that being transgender is a “belief’ in the way that being a Christian is a belief. Would you say that being gay is a belief, too? Because for someone who is transgender, it is as much a part of who they are as for someone who is gay. It’s not something they “believe” about themselves, it’s who they are.

    We do agree, though, that in many ways, it makes sense for conversion to wait until mental and physical development is complete. But unfortunately, as that video points out, this severely limits the kind of conversion that can take place. The sooner it’s done, the more effective it is. It’s unsettling, sure, that these effects are permanent, but would we ask a teenager to wait until they turned 21 before coming out as gay?

  9. I’m all for therapy. It’s good for transgender kids to have someone to talk to. But conversion should wait until mental and physical development is complete, in my opinion.

    I don’t believe in hell, and I agree that it’s an awful thing to say to a kid. But I believe in consistency. Respecting beliefs means respecting everyone’s beliefs. If you’re a Christian who believes in hell, that’s batshit, but if you’re a boy who thinks he’s a girl, we all have to respect that? Sorry, that doesn’t work for me. It’s either, “there’s no hell, and you’re a boy,” or, “your belief in hell is legitimate, and so is your kid’s gender identity.” And if a person believes in hell, obviously they’d be beside themselves if they thought their kid was going there.

  10. Johnny, of course we have sympathy for the parents, too. No one should have to go through what they did, i.e. losing a child, no matter what they’ve done or what they believe. For the record, we don’t think that the idea of naming it Leelah’s Law is meant to vilify the parents — it’s meant to honor their daughter (as she would have preferred to be called… not their son).

    And yes, of course every parent, no matter their belief system, is going to have complicated feelings about a child coming out at transgender. But having complicated feelings is one thing — telling your child that they’re basically going to hell because of the way they ARE is another thing entirely. And it is what they ARE, not what they’re choosing to be. Even if it is “a phase,” it doesn’t feel like it to that kid. To that kid, it feels like life or death.

    We don’t have any stats on this, only stories, and the stories we’ve read make it clear that coming out as transgender is not a fun, trendy thing to do, like getting a nose piercing or a tribal tramp stamp tattoo. It’s awful, it’s traumatizing, it’s isolating, it’s terrifying, etc. So we’d hazard a guess that very rarely is it just a phase.

    Just ask anyone who’s gay — for the most part, they knew EARLY. When you know, you know.

    On a final note, we tweeted about a video recently, not sure if you saw it — it basically explains why it is important for transgender youth to intervene before puberty, because it’s when their hormones kick and start turning them into something they really don’t want to be — and that’s where things get really scary and depressing for them:


    You’re right, more hard science and research would be great on this topic. But in the meantime, kids are suffering, and we’re all for anything that protects them and gives them a voice. We may not have all the facts — and who knows, maybe this ban isn’t exactly what is the right solution. But what we stand by is this: Signing the petition brought the topic national attention, and will force a serious governmental approach. And if it prevents parents sending their kids to Christian therapist who will tell them their sexual identity (etc) is a massive sin that will send them to hell? Then we think that’s a good thing.

  11. Oh, and as for “Leelah’s Law” – are we done vilifying those parents? Maybe – just maybe – a whole clusterfuck of mental problems cause that suicide, not just the insensitivity of homophopic parents.

    I mean, come on. Their teenage son laid some MAJOR issues on them, and they get a ton of shit for not handling it right? Are they REALLY such bad people for saying, “no, we don’t want you walking around in a dress, and we don’t want you hanging out with people who encourage that”?

    Let’s step out of our left-wing, progressive heads for a second. Let’s remember that not everyone is a libertine from a major city where something very unusual, like transgenderism, is regularly on display. Not everyone was born in a time where sensitivity to this stuff was enforced. To an old-timer from the Bible Belt, this would be fucking SHOCKING.

    Those parents may not have handled it as well as they could have, but maybe they handled it the way they were taught to. Maybe they’re not of a generation that lets kids do whatever the hell they want.

    They lost their son (as far as they’re concerned) to suicide. I for one have sympathy for what they went through.

  12. Wait hang on – that word “youth” changes everything.

    Call me an old-fashioned cisgender shitlord, but I don’t think this is so crazy.

    “Ban” is strong – I guess I don’t believe in BANNING anything that’s none of your business, but kids sure do act out, and transgenderism is quite the hot trend these days. Not everyone believes in the sanctity of therapy. I don’t think it’s so crazy for parents not to want a therapist telling their son, “SURE YOU CAN BE A GIRL!”

    Before anyone screams “shitlord” at me though, here’s a statistic I’ve never seen: what percentage of purportedly transgender teens eventually decide they’re just plain gay? What percentage actually ARE – oh god I’m going to say it – just going through a phase? I bet it’s pretty damn high in this day and age.

    I mean, what if your “youth” daughter wanted a boob job? Most sensible parents would say, “fuck that – when you’re of legal age and have your own money you can do that if you still really want.”


    Oh, really? NOW who’s being the shitlord? Why is a transgender person’s happiness in their own body more important than a young straight girl’s? What if she identifies as a big-boob woman stuck in a small-tittied body?

    It doesn’t matter “what if.” As a parent, you’d tell your straight daughter, “your body is still developing, your mind is still developing, let’s see where you are with this in a few years.”

    So, do I support a BAN? No. But do I respect the rights of parents to guide their childrens’ development until they move out, without the interference of soft scientists? Yes.

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