Leelah Alcorn, a 17-year-old transgender, committed suicide by throwing herself in front of a tractor-trailer in December.
Her suicide letter stated that her gender identity was being threatened, as she was being forced to convert to a boy by religious therapists.
In response to the petition prompted by Leelah’s suicide – it has already received 120,000 signatures in a span of three months – President Obama has denounced such gender conversion therapies, lending his support to banning them.
A statement written by Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to Obama, says, “We share your concern about its potentially 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.”
According to The Advocate, a gender neutrality bathroom has also been opened in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building of the White House Complex.
Jeff Tiller, White House spokesman, said, “The White House allows staff and guests to use restrooms consistent with their gender identity, which is in keeping with the administration’s existing legal guidance on this issue and consistent with what is required by the executive order that took effect today for federal contractors.”
“In addition, an all-gender restroom is also available in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, which provides guests and staff an additional option,” he added, according to CNN.
Following Obama’s announcement, California and New Jersey have also outlawed conversion therapies.
However, therapists in favor of conversion therapies say the practice is a way to help homosexuals or transgenders return to their former heterosexual selves.
The Narth Institute, an organization that promotes such therapies, says on its website that “numerous examples exist of people who have successfully modified their sexual behavior, identity, and arousal or fantasies.”
However, the American Psychiatric Association does not find conversion therapies fruitful. Therapists and advocates against the practice say they increase the chances of hampering one’s psychological state of being, causing depression and anxiety.
You might also be interested in: Facebook Adds New Gender Options to Profiles