My name is Eris Amber Lovell, I’m 17 years old and live in Marietta, GA. This past fall I got to have an experience that every teenage girl dreams about: I was elected to the Homecoming court at my high school. When the announcement was made I couldn’t stop smiling -- it was such a great day. For any teenage girl this would be a huge moment, but for me it had an even deeper meaning because I am transgender, and I was the first ever transgender girl elected to a homecoming court in the state of Georgia.
At that moment, when my name was announced and my classmates started cheering, I felt as though I had been truly accepted for who I am -- who I have always known myself to be.
Although many people might think that living in the South would make it especially hard for me as a trans kid, my experience has been filled with support from my classmates and my community. It makes me so happy to see my state and many others like it in the South moving forward toward LGBT equality, which is why I was so shocked to learn that a harmful practice called “conversion therapy” is still legal in Georgia.
Conversion therapy is a discredited practice that claims to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. All the major medical associations, including the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association, have disavowed this practice and recognized that it is an incredibly dangerous, and yet it is still legal to be used on minors in 48 states, including Georgia.
It is also legal in Ohio -- where, last December, transgender teen Leelah Alcorn committed suicide after being repeatedly forced into this therapy. Leelah was only a year older than me, and her story could have easily been my story, and -- most terrifyingly -- could still be the story for thousands of LGBT kids in Georgia.
Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for Georgia youth, and kids in the LGBT community are 4 times more likely to attempt suicide than our straight peers.
I am so grateful to have a family who loves me and a community who are standing behind me, but not everyone has this same support system. That is why it is so important that the Georgia State Legislature steps up and passes a law making conversion therapy used against minors illegal.
When I walked out onto the football field at Homecoming, I felt proud of my accomplishment, and hopeful that my story might help other transgender youth in Georgia. Please help me continue that fight.
Georgia: Ban So-Called "Conversion Therapy"
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