Conversion Therapy NEEDS to END
Conversion therapy has gained national attention over the past few years for the unethical nature of the practice, but also Hollywood’s part in bringing to light the stories of young people who have been victims of the torturous therapy. Two movies recently came out that highlight the nature of conversion therapy, The Miseducation of Cameron Post and Boy Erased. Both films follow the main character through their coming out process and being sent to conversion therapy.
What is Conversion Therapy?
Conversion therapy is also referred to as reparative therapy; it is the belief you can change someone's sexual orientation or gender identity through shameful, traumatic, physical and life-damaging practices .
In the past before the 1980s, those who underwent conversion therapy experienced the following:
-Ice pick lobotomies
While conversion therapy may not be as physically extreme as it was in the past, it is still very damaging psychologically. Those who have survived conversion therapy experience depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and self-hatred.
Conversion therapy doesn’t work. Sexual orientation is not something that can be changed, “the American Psychological Association concludes that there is insufficient evidence to support the use of psychological interventions to change sexual orientation”, quoted by APA cited in an HRC article.
According to the UCLA Williams Institute, over 700,000 LGBT people have been subjected to conversion therapy.
What the Mental Health Community Says:
In 1987, homosexuality was removed as a mental illness from the diagnostic statistic manual (DSM).
In 1998, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) made the following statement regarding conversion therapy:
“APA opposes any psychiatric treatment, such as “reparative” or “conversion” therapy, that is based on the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder or is based on the a priori assumption that the patient should change his or her homosexual orientation.”
What Survivors are Saying:
Those who have gone through conversion therapy have noted it being traumatic, damaging, and dangerous- calling for an end to the practice.
“I want people to know that conversion therapy is literal torture,” TC
“For over two years, I sat on a couch and endured emotionally painful sessions with a counselor. I was told that my faith community rejected my sexuality; that I was the abomination we had heard about in Sunday school; that I was the only gay person in the world; that it was inevitable I would get H.I.V. and AIDS.” Sam Brinton
“Many people don’t make it through conversion therapy. Suicide is common. I have always had someone in my life who loved me, whether it was a particular adult figure or a friend, and I know that’s something that so many people will never have.” Deb Cuny
The Reality of Conversion Therapy in the US Today:
35 states in the United States don’t have laws banning conversion therapy. Let me repeat that again- 35 states in the US DON’T have laws banning conversion therapy, meaning it is legal to practice.
-Call your congressman, senator, and state rep and voice your concern around conversion therapy. Many states are working on bills to end conversion therapy, so the more support from voters the better!
-Share content on social media and with family/friends that calls for an end to conversion therapy.
-Educate yourself on the topic of conversion therapy and the issues facing the LGBT community today.
Written by Amanda Shea.