In a groundbreaking move, Cincinnati became the first U.S. city to ban LGBT conversion therapy for anyone under the age of 18. The proposal was created to honor Leelah Alcorn, whose suicide last year brought national attention to the harmful effects o conversion therapy, which aims to “fix gay or trans people and turn them straight. Though a tragedy, Leelah’s death could mean a new life for so many others.
In an online suicide post Leelah pleaded for her death to have an impact for others like her.
“My death needs to be counted in the number of transgender people who commit suicide this year. I want someone to look at that number and say “that’s fucked up” and fix it. Fix society. Please.“ -Leelah Alcorn
She was right. In another shocking statistic The National Center for Transgender Equality reports that 41% of transgendered people surveyed say they have attempted suicide. Compared to 1.6% of the general population, this is a huge red flag and indicator that, as Leelah put it, needs to be fixed.
Conversion therapy; reparative therapy: these are terms for treatment based on the assumption that transgender identification and homosexual orientation can be cured. Despite the fact that homosexuality was long ago removed from the American Psychological Association’s list of mental disorders and that conversion therapy is widely considered to be ineffective and even harmful, it continues across the country.
Vice Magazine investigated the shameful treatment, speaking with people who survived and those who still advocate for it, including a therapist who is continuing to illegally “treat” gay minors in California. After Leelah’s death, a petition called upon the attention of the White House and President Obama, who spoke out against the practice. In addition, these harmful therapies for youth are banned statewide in California, Oregon, Illinois, and New Jersey and also in Washington D.C.
Already a group is calling to repeal the proposal, which passed 7-2 by the Cincinnati city council. The organization, Citizens for Community Values, claims that parents should have the right to make the decision of conversion therapy for their children. But for now the measure stands, instituting a $200 fine per day for therapists and counselors who attempt to “cure” or “convert” gay youth. Until more states ban the practice, Cincinnati is an example of what local communities and cities are capable of in the mean time: saving lives.