Tag Archives: conversion therapy

President Obama Wants Conversion Therapy Banned

Transgender 17-year-old Leelah Alcorn wrote in her suicide note that one of the ways her family rejected her was by forcing her to see “Christian therapists.”  These therapists told her that she was selfish and wrong, and should look to God for help. Soon after her suicide, a White House petition was started, calling for “Leelah’s Law,”  which would ban all forms of the cruel ex-transgender and ex-gay conversion therapies.

Recently, the White House responded to the petition in agreement that conversion therapy should be banned.  Valerie Jarrett, White House Senior Advisor, said, “The overwhelming scientific evidence demonstrates that conversion therapy, especially when it is practiced on young people, is neither medically nor ethically appropriate and can cause substantial harm.”  She added, “As part of our dedication to protecting America’s youth, this Administration supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors.”

President Obama Wants Conversion Therapy Banned

Jarrett believes that even with the best intentions, families can cause harm to their children who are LGBTQ. She said, “Countless families and guardians across the country proudly support their LGBTQ+ children. Too many LGBTQ+ youth, however, lack this support system, which can have devastating consequences. Negative family reactions to LGBTQ+ youth can be perceived as rejection by children, often contributing to serious health issues and inhibiting a child’s development and well-being. And when it comes to LGBTQ+ youth, some actions by family and caregivers can be harmful, despite even the best intentions.”

This year, Republican lawmakers have defeated several legislative bans that were pending in various states; some are still pending. Currently, only California, New Jersey, and Washington, DC have banned conversion therapy for minors. According to Jarrett, a national ban would require congressional action. But, she said: “We’re hopeful that the clarity of the evidence combined with the action taken by the states will lead to broader action that the administration would support.”

Jarrett stated in an interview with the New York Times that Obama was incredibly moved by Alcorn’s story and added that it’s not a unique experience: “It’s not the story of one young person,” she said. “It is the story of countless young people who have been subjected to this.”

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The Dangers of Conversion Therapy

Conversion therapy is a barbaric practice based in pseudo-science and religious zealotry. As of August 8th, 2014, it is only banned in two states – New Jersey and California. On December 2nd, Washington DC banned it’s use in minors. Nationwide, bans have been introduced in Michigan, voted down in Virginia and Illinois, and stalled in ten other states.

Survivors of this insane (and it is insane in the cruelest of ways) abusive, and completely ineffective “treatment” often endure more psychological damage from their “reparative therapy” than any one human should ever go through.

“Pray The Gay Away” camps are still rampant in the middle and southern regions of the United States. These church-run camps are where ignorant parents send their gay offspring, should that child come out of the closet.

The Dangers of Conversion Therapy

The book Youth in Crisis by Mitchell Gold speaks to the damaging effects of the stifling, stunted, and backwards belief systems associated with “Praying the gay away”:

Rather than resolving conflicts, reparative therapy programs create new ones by falsely promising gay people who are unhappy with their sexual orientation that they can become heterosexual. When gay men and women find that they can’t change, they end up with feelings of guilt and failure that lead to depression, loss of friends and social support, addictive behaviors, and substance abuse.

The methodology used by the therapists conducting conversion therapy in order to “cure” their patients ranges from estrogen for males (to quell their libido), to electroconvulsive therapy. The theory behind the latter treatment (and it is painful to use “treatment” and not “torture”) is that the seizure will somehow rearrange the “faulty” wiring in the subject’s mind, and somehow trigger heterosexuality.

Great numbers of the LGBTQ community have suffered the immense traumas that come with being an openly gay child or teen in conservative America, often repeatedly, and with tragic results. The toxic and completely detrimental practice of conversion therapy is a singular American experience.

When an individual is told that an essential part of them is wrong and terrible, that their god hates them for what they can’t help, that they are going to hell for being their natural self, the end results are often tragic. The American Psychiatric Association states:

The potential risks of reparative therapy are great, including depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior, since therapist alignment with societal prejudices against homosexuality may reinforce self-hatred already experienced by the patient. Many patients who have undergone reparative therapy relate that they were inaccurately told that homosexuals are lonely, unhappy individuals who never achieve acceptance or satisfaction. The possibility that the person might achieve happiness and satisfying interpersonal relationships as a gay man or lesbian is not presented, nor are alternative approaches to dealing with the effects of societal stigmatization discussed.

The LGBTQ community in the United States must work towards a national ban on this outmoded, and, frankly, cruel practice that has been built on a foundation of bigotry and lies. Parents should not be able to send their children away to be “fixed” or create an impossible transformation in a perfectly healthy human being.