President Barack Obama called for an end to the discredited practice known as reparative therapy yesterday (Wednesday, April 9) in response to a WhiteHouse.gov petition calling for a ban on the process.
The president’s statement, written by senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, responded to a WhiteHouse.gov petition signed by more than 120,00 people calling for a ban on the practice following the suicide of a young transwoman, Leelah Alcorn, last December.
“We share your concern about its potentially devastating effects on the lives of transgender as well as gay, lesbian, bisexual and queer youth,” the statement reads. “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.”
Conversion therapy, as it is commonly called, is most often used on LGBT minors to change their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Numerous professional organizations, including the American Psychiatric Association and American Medical Association, oppose the practice. Other organizations, ranging from the World Health Organization to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry have also denounced it.
But the practice still has some supporters, including a vocal group of social conservatives who acknowledged the practice in the Texas Republican Party platform during the party’s 2014 convention.
Currently California, New Jersey and the District of Columbia have banned conversion therapy. Bills have been introduced in 18 states, including Texas, that would ban the process. Texas Rep. Celia Israel, D-Austin, who authored HB 3495 to ban conversion therapy, is currently awaiting a committee hearing on her bill.