Leelah’s Law Is Bad Law And Bad Medicine

Leelah’s Law Is Bad Law And Bad Medicine

A law named after a transgender teen who committed suicide would censor people and hurt children. Here’s why Leelah’s Law is a terrible idea.
Stella Morabito
By

Transgender activists wasted no time politicizing the highly publicized suicide of a transgender youth in Ohio last week. That tragedy is now serving as a pretext for a federal law that would essentially give the state greater control over what people are allowed to say about a child’s gender identity in the therapist’s office, and even in homes and churches.

But this particular suicide seems tailor-made for a media blitz, because the teen’s suicide note contains so many of the talking points of the transgender lobby, including things like:

  • “I feel like a girl trapped in a boy’s body”
  • Frustration with family members who question transgenderism
  • Condemnation of therapists who question transgenderism
  • Anger towards church
  • Assertion “the longer you wait the harder it is to transition” suggesting that the age of consent should be lowered
  • “Gender needs to be taught about in schools, the earlier the better”
  • “My death needs to be counted in the number of transgender people who commit suicide this year.”
  • “Fix society.”

But let’s start by asking the one question anyone interested in reality and truth should: What happened?

A tractor-trailer hit 17-year-old Joshua Alcorn on Interstate 71 at about 2:30 a.m. on December 28, according to Ohio media citing police reports. (Let’s not forget that the individual driving the truck was unwittingly drafted as executioner.) The 900-plus word suicide note left on Alcorn’s Tumblr account (which has since been deleted) was signed with the name “Leelah” in parentheses, like this: “(Leelah) Josh Alcorn.”

Just two months before, Alcorn had expressed a lot of frustration and angst in a Reddit thread. He wrote about his parents’ resistance to his female gender identity, and how they deprived him of Internet access and social companionship outside of church and that this went on for five months. (Whether or not you’d classify that as abuse, I cannot imagine such intense isolation could help any teenager’s depression, whatever its source.)

Alcorn’s grieving mother and father have also been under persistent criticism for referring to Alcorn as their son Joshua instead of as their daughter Leelah, even though they said they never heard any reference to the name Leelah. Most of the media has obeyed the language protocols set up by the well-funded LGBT Lobby watchdogs, particularly GLAAD. (I resist not only out principle and a respect for physical reality, but also because I believe language should evolve through natural usage, not political ambush.)

Is It the Parents or Big Trans Who Have Blood on Their Hands?

What else happened? Well, the rest is an emotional fog. There’ve been candlelight vigils and social media hubbub and lots of mass vilification of the parents who are being blamed for the suicide. But some on the Internet have blamed the suicide on the transgender lobby itself for being manipulative, controlling, and cult-like. Here’s just one example, which comes from “a former trans cult member:”

Also, there’s this post from a radical feminist blog, which describes trans activists’ reaction to Alcorn’s suicide as ghoulish, claiming those activists actually love any suicide that promotes their agenda. In the meantime, LGBT Demagogue Extraordinaire Dan Savage weighed in heavily by calling for the prosecution of Alcorn’s parents:


He also called for the state to remove Alcorn’s siblings from their parents’ care:

Savage says any therapists involved should be charged, too. He essentially prescribes the end of “Christian” counseling, by which we can safely assume he means any counseling that doesn’t come with a Big Dan Savage Seal of Approval:


In any case, the “Transgender Human Rights Institute” immediately got the ball rolling to promote the idea of a federal law that will do all those things Savage called for. The agenda is embedded in a petition drive on Change.org for “Leelah’s Law to Ban Transgender Conversion Therapy.” Many celebrities have thrown in their support, including Kim Kardashian and Mia Farrow. As of this writing, the petition has around 300,000 signatures.

So what exactly is Leelah’s Law? Well, it’s essentially a pro-censorship law. It’s also bad medicine and not at all pro-child.

Leelah’s Law Is a Pro-Censorship Law

Advocates of Leelah’s Law describe “conversion therapy” as dangerous and harmful and call for a national ban. Certainly, there are cases of psychological abuse out there. But how exactly could the term “conversion therapy” be applied under federal law? Could it mean banning all conversations between a gender dysphoric child and any therapist who is not totally on board with the politics of transgenderism? Does it amount to social engineering through using psychiatry for politics? Well, when you test the logic, it sure sounds like it can’t mean anything else.

In effect, the law would prohibit any questioning from a therapist, or possibly even by the patient in cases, as to whether a child’s gender dysphoria can be treated without prescribing transition to the opposite sex.

The petition doesn’t say what a federal ban on conversion therapy would look like. But you can glance at a California bill that would ban reparative therapy for anyone under the age of 18 who identifies as homosexual for an idea. It basically means that any therapy steering a child from a homosexual to a heterosexual orientation is destructive and therefore a crime. Applied to transgenderism, this would mean the same for any therapy that steers a transgender child toward an identity congruent with their biological sex.

But here are just two things to consider before jumping on board with a federal “Leelah’s Law.” First, it gives government carte blanche to interpret and dictate and define at will what “conversion therapy” means. It empowers the state to arbitrarily punish any counselor or parent or church reported to have supported such counseling. Second, the proposed law is a one-way street and only bans one form of conversion, so it is not truly a ban on conversion therapy. The presumption is that there is not now, nor can there ever be in the future, any attempt to convert a child who is not transgender.

In any event, this looks a lot like a Trojan Horse law. In effect, it prohibits any questioning from a therapist, or possibly even by the patient in cases, as to whether a child’s gender dysphoria can be treated without prescribing transition to the opposite sex. The presumption is that gender identity is set in stone and no dissent is possible once the patient presents as transgender.

So as it inevitably metathesizes, a codified Leelah’s Law would promise to place a chilling effect nationally on cognitive therapy. Parents would have no other legal options but to assume and promote as permanent their child’s gender identity. This has vast implications for family autonomy and relationships.

Leelah’s Law Is Not at All Pro-Child

When you consider how invasive a process it is to physically transition from one sex to the other —adopting behaviors, taking hormones, having surgery in many cases—it’s astonishing that some people would lead any gender nonconforming child down that path without hesitation.

In the vast majority of cases, children who say they’re transgender and act that way change their minds about being the opposite sex—if you just leave them alone.

In the vast majority of cases, children who say they’re transgender and act that way change their minds about being the opposite sex—if you just leave them alone. According to a recent Hastings Center report, gender dysphoria does not persist into adulthood in up to 73 to 94 percent of cases  (citing the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, which noted dysphoria continuing in only 6 to 23 percent of boys and 12 to 27 percent of girls.) Here’s just one testimonial on that experience.

But in pop culture today there’s a lot of much nudging and glorifying and special privileges given to boys who say they’re girls and girls who say they’re boys. We’ve become so saturated with these trans fads that it shouldn’t surprise us if we hear choruses of “Me too! Me too!” Oprah and Katie Couric gush over parents who “support” their kids down the path of transitioning as though their gender identity is unshakeable forever. As 14-year-old transgender Jazz Jennings told Katie Couric: “I can’t change. I was born that way.”

The clear message is that any child who says he or she is the opposite sex should view it as unchangeable (though the vast majority end up stabilizing into their birth sex.) The message to any skeptical parents is that they are hateful and unfit.

How can these kids, some as young as three and four, realize the implications of following through? They don’t have a clue that doing so can mean taking hormone blockers to prevent puberty that disrupts their development. Then, post-puberty, they would take cross-hormones of the opposite sex. This basically sterilizes them. If there’s irreversible surgery on top of it all, what happens if they regret it? Regret is not at all rare. Walt Heyer, who blogs at sexchangeregret.com, can attest to this. He’s been a source of support to many regretters like himself. But Leelah’s Law is not set up to acknowledge anybody who regrets transitioning or to help them de-transition.

Leelah’s Law Is Bad Medicine

Heyer’s blog cites a national survey of more than 6,500 transgenders that asked the question, “Have you tried to commit suicide?” Forty-one percent answered, “Yes.” That’s astonishingly more than the national average of less than 2 percent. Virtually all people who attempt suicide are suffering from some form of mental disorder or depression. So it should seem clear that blaming society for that depression will not address the dysphoria and depression an individual feels. Neither is the assumption that transitioning and psychosurgery is the only line of defense for gender dysphoria.

It should seem clear that blaming society for that depression will not address the dysphoria and depression an individual feels.

Gender dysphoria is a term used to describe the state of those who have a deep sense of uneasiness because they feel their sex is different from the sex of their body and their DNA. It’s a relatively new term. The fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) listed the condition as Gender Identity Disorder (GID), but due to political lobbying, the American Psychiatric Association re-classified it in the fifth edition with the softer label. Nevertheless, according to DSM-V, dysphoria means that such patients have “clinically significant distress” associated with their feeling of being the opposite sex.

Dysphoria itself is generally defined as “a state of feeling unwell or unhappy.” Depression, likewise, is generally “a state of feeling sad” or, more clinically significant: “a serious medical condition in which a person feels very sad, hopeless, and unimportant and often is unable to live in a normal way.”

Clearly, Leelah Josh Alcorn was feeling dysphoric. And he likely suffered from depression, as do virtually all suicide victims. But where did that inner dysphoria and depression come from? Leelah’s Law would make it legally risky for therapists to ask that question in any meaningful way, or in any way that allows transgenders to journey into their past experiences to discover and understand that there may have been triggers for their dysphoria. Even if the patient sincerely wanted to do that, the chilling effect of Leelah’s Law would deter many counselors from even engaging them.

So here’s a summary of potential side effects from Leelah’s Law:

  • It sets up a medical protocol that assumes one treatment option for gender dysphoric children: shedding the identity of their physical sex.
  • It doesn’t allow for therapy in cases of regret.
  • It assumes that society’s at fault for gender dysphoria, so it doesn’t account for co-existing mental disorders that could be causing the dysphoria, and treating those before transitioning.
  • It prevents doctors from exploring with a patient any environmental factors that could have led to gender dysphoria, forcing the assumption that gender identity is innate and unchangeable.
  • This means that more cases of depression are bound to go untreated whenever dysphoria co-exists with depression or other mental disorders
  • It provides an extra layer of protection for pedophiles since it short-circuits so much parent-to-child communication

Big Trans Aids Big Gov

The transgender lobby is no ordinary lobby. It’s been the under-the-radar “T” in LGBT for many years. With same-sex marriage seemingly in the rearview mirror, it now flies in the radar fan with a vengeance.

Leelah’s Law essentially invites Big Brother into your family, therapy sessions and even your church.

This brand of transgender activism is international in its vision, and President Obama’s White House has its back. Consider that Obamacare just opened the door to allow Medicare coverage of sex reassignment surgery for seniors. Just before Christmas, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act on sex discrimination covers gender identity as well. The media juggernaut will continue to be ramped up also.

Leelah’s Law essentially invites Big Brother into your family, therapy sessions and even your church. As such, it’s a formula for more state meddling in personal relationships and looks to be an effective tool for consolidating state power.

Youth suicides, like all suicides, are horrific tragedies with so many layers of guilt, blame, angst, and suffering. It’s impossible to wrap one’s head around the compounded evil of such mysteries. But this suicide is being super-hyped—to the exclusion of any other “type” of teen suicide—to promote the criminalization of any counseling or psychotherapy for children that does not promote transgenderism. By logical extension, this would apply to any parent who does not promote transgenderism in their child. In the end, it would be an assault on both the parent-child relationship and the patient-doctor relationship.

Let’s remember this when Obama decides to talk to us about a proposal like Leelah’s Law.

Stella Morabito is a senior contributor to The Federalist. Follow Stella on Twitter.

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