Tag Archives: Obama

President Obama Wants Conversion Therapy Banned

Transgender 17-year-old Leelah Alcorn wrote in her suicide note that one of the ways her family rejected her was by forcing her to see “Christian therapists.”  These therapists told her that she was selfish and wrong, and should look to God for help. Soon after her suicide, a White House petition was started, calling for “Leelah’s Law,”  which would ban all forms of the cruel ex-transgender and ex-gay conversion therapies.

Recently, the White House responded to the petition in agreement that conversion therapy should be banned.  Valerie Jarrett, White House Senior Advisor, said, “The overwhelming scientific evidence demonstrates that conversion therapy, especially when it is practiced on young people, is neither medically nor ethically appropriate and can cause substantial harm.”  She added, “As part of our dedication to protecting America’s youth, this Administration supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors.”

President Obama Wants Conversion Therapy Banned

Jarrett believes that even with the best intentions, families can cause harm to their children who are LGBTQ. She said, “Countless families and guardians across the country proudly support their LGBTQ+ children. Too many LGBTQ+ youth, however, lack this support system, which can have devastating consequences. Negative family reactions to LGBTQ+ youth can be perceived as rejection by children, often contributing to serious health issues and inhibiting a child’s development and well-being. And when it comes to LGBTQ+ youth, some actions by family and caregivers can be harmful, despite even the best intentions.”

This year, Republican lawmakers have defeated several legislative bans that were pending in various states; some are still pending. Currently, only California, New Jersey, and Washington, DC have banned conversion therapy for minors. According to Jarrett, a national ban would require congressional action. But, she said: “We’re hopeful that the clarity of the evidence combined with the action taken by the states will lead to broader action that the administration would support.”

Jarrett stated in an interview with the New York Times that Obama was incredibly moved by Alcorn’s story and added that it’s not a unique experience: “It’s not the story of one young person,” she said. “It is the story of countless young people who have been subjected to this.”


Victories for Transgender Healthcare Rights

Victories for Transgender Healthcare RightsNew policy changes on the federal and state level are allowing more healthcare coverage for the transgender community.

In May, the Obama administration got rid of a 33-year old ban on Medicare coverage for gender reassignment surgery.  The government ban was put in place when the surgeries were considered experimental, but the Department of Health and Human Services pointed to recent medical studies showing that the exclusion of coverage wasn’t necessary. In fact, the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association consider the surgery safe for those who suffer from gender dysphoria, which is a condition where a person is intensely uncomfortable with their birth’s sex.

The ruling doesn’t provide a guarantee that the surgeries are covered; instead, it allows individuals to demonstrate the need for the surgery like other medical treatments. The greater significance of this ruling is it now opens up more opportunities for transgender individuals. According to the Washington Post, private insurance plans tend to follow Medicare on what’s considered a medical necessary treatment.

On the state level, Massachusetts became the third state to make changes to its health care insurance to allow transgender related services full access to health care treatments. This includes gender reassignment surgery. The administration of Governor Deval Patrick also stopped private insurers from denying coverage.

Massachusetts joins California, Colorado, Connecticut, Oregon and Vermont in acknowledging and mandating transition care for transgender individuals as a significant part of medical coverage.

Earlier this year, the mayor of the nation’s capital clarified a policy that went into effect in 2013 in an attempt to help prevent residents from paying high out-of-pocket expenses for medically necessary treatment. Mayor Vincent Gray told health insurance providers in the District of Columbia that they must cover treatment for those diagnosed with gender dysphoria
such as gender reassignment surgeries.