WATCH: U.S. Surgeon General Opposes Conversion Therapy
Just two days after the Obama administration formally announced that it supports efforts to end the discredited practice known as "conversion therapy" — which tries to change an individual's sexual orientation or gender identity — the nation's top doctor weighed in on the practice.
"As America’s Doctor, my job is to help raise awareness about sound medical practices and the steps we can take together to improve America’s health," said U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy today during a town hall discussion on Tumblr. "Conversion therapy is not sound medical practice. Moreover, we all need to work together to build greater understanding and acceptance throughout our society. Doctors can and should be part of that effort."
Murthy's comments come less than 48 hours after the White House formally responded to a petition calling for a nationwide ban on such "therapy," which has been denounced as ineffective and harmful by every major medical and psychiatric organization in the country.
"We share your concern about [this practice's] potentially devastating effects on the lives of transgender as well as gay, lesbian, bisexual, and queer youth," wrote senior Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett in the White House's formal response to the petition, which sought to create "Leelah's Law," and garnered more than 120,000 signatures on the government's We the People petition site.
The petition was authored in the wake of transgender Ohio teenager Leelah Alcorn's suicide. In a note that went viral after she scheduled it to post to Tumblr after her death, the 17-year-old Alcorn detailed the harm she endured when subjected to conversion therapy by a Christian therapist she was taken to by her parents.
In addition to the surgeon general's comments, the White House published a video today featuring several members of the administration explaining why they support an end to the use of so-called reparative therapy on minors.
Among other LGBT and allied members of the administration, the video (below) features Amanda Simpson — who made history in 2010 as the first out transgender presidential cabinet appointee when Obama named her a senior technical adviser in the Department of Commerce. Now serving as the executive director of the Army's Office of Energy Initiatives, Simpson offered a historical perspective on efforts to "cure" LGBT people.
"Conversion therapy can be called many things," says Simpson in the video. "We used to call things like this 'brainwashing' or 'reprogramming.' It's all about making people conform to the way things are. But if society is going to grow, we need to move beyond the way things are to the way things should be. The way things ought to be."
Watch that video below, and learn more about the growing national effort to end conversion therapy — which has already been outlawed for use on minors in California, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C. — at the National Center for Lesbian Rights' #BornPerfect campaign.