We should rebrand the antitrans HB 454 as “Leelah Alcorn’s Law” [COMMENTARY]

“It is time to let the abused and neglected trans kids speak up. HB 454 should always and only be called Leelah Alcorn’s Law.”

by Ginger Marshall

Tuesday evening, I was relaxing at home when both of my phones started blowing up. Coworkers and friends were reaching out about Ohio House Bill 454, modeled after the Arkansas law that criminalizes all care for transgender children, makes teachers, nurses, and other professionals into mandatory reporters for any deviation from “gender norms,” and blocks insurance in the state from covering any care for transgender teens.

The bill currently has 2 sponsors and about a quarter of the Republican House supporting it.

I wish I could say I am surprised, but I am not. This is not new, just the latest. Republicans are desperate for a win against Trans citizens to appease their religious base and expand to restrictions on LGB citizens, too.

Their campaign claims to “protect the children” without actually talking to the kids involved, listening to their parents, or learning from the physicians and therapists and teams that care for them.

It is time to let the abused and neglected trans kids speak up. HB 454 should always and only be called Leelah Alcorn’s Law, and every article about the bill should include Leelah’s story.

At 2:30 AM on December 28, 2014 Leelah Alcorn, a 17-year-old transgender girl, killed herself by walking in front of a tractor trailer on the Interstate near her home.

She had come out to her parents, asking to see doctors and psychologists who could work with her and her family. Her parents refused to take her to legitimate doctors and therapists for the best evidence-based care. Instead, they isolated her from outside contact for months and forced her to see a Christian “therapist” to undergo conversion therapy – a discredited practice outlawed in many states and condemned by the American Psychology Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Medical Association.

Leelah told friends she came out to her parents and described their reaction. “They felt like I was attacking their image, and that I was an embarrassment to them. They wanted me to be their perfect little straight Christian boy, and that’s obviously not what I wanted.”

After months of isolation and “therapy” Leelah wrote:

“I have decided I’ve had enough. There’s no winning. There’s no way out. I’m sad enough already, I don’t need my life to get any worse. People say ‘it gets better’ but that isn’t true in my case. It gets worse. Each day I get worse. That’s the gist of it, that’s why I feel like killing myself. Sorry if that’s not a good enough reason for you, it’s good enough for me.”

Republicans in the Ohio Legislature have now introduced HB 454, intended to codify what was done to Leelah into law. They want to criminalize medical care and force teachers and others to spy on kids to eliminate transgender people from society. They don’t seem to care about misery and death that will result.

The Leelah Alcorn Law is bad law that will cause harm. It needs to stop. 

Ginger Marshall is a pansexual transgender Witch. She is the Admin Coordinator for the Pride Network of a local hospital system, working with 9 doctors and helping expand and improve care across northeast Ohio. She is active and visible in the Pagan Community, including the planning committee of the annual Cleveland Pagan Pride Days. She lives in Cleveland with her partner, Carter, and their two Chihuahuas, Bodhi and Chi.

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