An End To Conversion Therapy?

Do you think people can change? With change, I’m not referring to hair color or mood, but sexuality instead. There’s an argument about whether homosexuality is a trait people are born with or if people chose to be that way. Along with the idea that people choose to be LGBT+, there’s the idea they can choose not to be. Conversion therapy has been used in the past to, supposedly, help correct homosexuality but now a nationwide bill proposing the ban of conversion therapy could change that. But, what is conversation therapy and why should we care about ending it?

Conversion therapy is treatment that supposedly changes someone’s mental identity and/or physical atttraction from the same sex and/or gender to the opposite. This therapy can consist of verbal treatments or physical treatments. Just as verbal abuse is as horrible as physical abuse, so are the verbal treatments compared to the physical treatments. But the physical treatments are what make people speak so strongly against the treatment. There have been reports from the American Psychological Association (APA) of inducing vomiting, using electric shocks, snapping of rubber bands and forced practices of stereotypical gender behavior as correctional therapy. The APA is also one of the voices advocating to ban taking children to conversion therapy saying that, “therapy directed at specifically changing sexual orientation is contraindicated, since it can provoke guilt and anxiety while having little or no potential for achieving changes in orientation.” Not only that, the negative results can be fatal, causing suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts which stem from depression and anxiety. 

California was first to ban conversion therapy in 2012, followed by New Jersey in 2013. There are bills in other states that attempt to prevent therapists from trying to change the gender or sexuality of minors but until this year, there has been no prospect of a nationwide ban. New York and Colorado made headlines banning the therapy earlier this year, and now the nationwide ban has taken over the headlines. This has led to more bans being passed. In early November, Kansas City, Missouri joined the list of places which has banned conversion therapy for minors. This ban specifically prohibits “mental health professionals from using conversion therapy, also known as reparative therapy, a practice that endeavors to change a gay or transgender person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.” Unfortunately, this ban cannot prevent religious leaders from speaking with youths about their sexuality and gender. For some, a religious leader speaking with them might not cause harm and might even be a positive experience as some churches are accepting. However, from my experience with religious counseling over ‘fixing’ my identity, I can confirm there are encounters that should be prevented. 

The American Medical Association put their word in in support of banning conversion therapy. During an interview with NBC news, they said  that “conversion therapy needs to end in the United States given the risk of deliberate harm to LGBTQ people,” and that “conversion therapy has no foundation as scientifically valid medical care and lacks credible evidence to support its efficacy or safety.” Not only does this raise awareness of the harm in conversion therapy but discredits the practice. With the AMA being one of the oldest and longest standing medical associations, according to the Becker’s Hospital Review, they have weight to what they say, so their discrediting conversion therapy is important. This association has also supported LGBT+ education and other efforts for the safety and acceptance of the community. As the AMA and other organizations continue to support this ban and support the community, it’s important we do too.

Perhaps people can change, change their style of clothing and music tastes that is, but not their identity. Let’s support everyone who feels like who they are is wrong, like they have to change, and encourage them to love themselves for who they are instead. Let’s keep spreading awareness of negative practices and hopefully put a stop to them.