Leelah Alcorn’s suicide over the holidays struck a chord with people across the nation. Unaccepted by her family as transgender and forced to undergo conversion therapy, she left behind a note expressing the hope that her death would mean something. Protests erupted across the country in honor of her life and in order to pressure governments to ban the practice which the American Association of Pediatrics, American Psychological Association, National Association of Social Workers, and American Counseling Association have all labelled harmful to minors. To date, however, only California, New Jersey, and Washington DC have effective bans in place.
The Transgender Human Rights Institute quickly launched a campaign to enact a federal law entitled Leelah’s Law, which would ban the use of conversion therapy in every part of the country. The Change.org petition quickly became one of the year’s fastest growing petitions on the site, currently showing more than 330,000 signatories. However, the similar petition on the White House website, Enact Leelah's Law to Ban All LGBTQ+ Conversion Therapy has stalled at around 67,000 signatures, falling short of the necessary 100,000 to prompt a response from the president.
The deadline for the White House petition is February 2, and while obtaining the requisite number of signatures will not necessarily demand the law be implemented, it will send a strong message to the president whose historic inclusion of transgender people and transgender rights in his 2015 State of the Union address lends substance to his support of the wider LGBT community.