There are only four states in the United States plus Washington, D.C. that ban gay conversion therapy for minors, including Oregon, California, Illinois, and New Jersey. However, that number is growing: New York governor Andrew Cuomo recently decided it was time for New York to ban conversion therapy as well and join the small group of states who have outlawed the practice due to its consistently proven harmful effects on LGBTQ children. Gov. Cuomo announced his plans to change the system on Saturday, Feb. 6, such that that no mental health facility licensed, funded, or operated by the state would be allowed to practice this kind of "therapy" (if it can even be called therapy) on minors; additionally, Gov. Cuomo introduced bans on public and private health care insurers from providing reimbursement for conversion therapy enacted upon minors.
In October of 2015, the White House condemned conversion therapy, citing a report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) which showed that not only is the therapy dangerous, but moreover, that it is completely ineffective in changing gay, lesbian, and queer minors to straight people, and trans or non-binary youths into cisgender ones. In addition to the White House and SAMHSA, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychological Association have both condemned conversion therapy. The practice, which is also called "reparative therapy," consists of "behavioral, cognitive, [and] psychoanalytic... practices that try to change or reduce same-sex attraction or alter a person’s gender identity," according to the National Center for Lesbian Rights.
So why is it so important to ban conversion therapy? If you're not sold on why it's harmful, these four ideas might convince you:
1. Being LGBTQ Is Not A Disease or Mental Health Illness
News flash for people who still think non-cisgender, non-heterosexual sexualities and gender identities are diseases: They're not! The human experience is vast and wide and filled with different people who love differently, feel differently, and see the world through different lenses. Being LGBTQ not a disease, as has been proven by many statistics, studies, data sets, and plain old common sense. Not that anyone has to prove their identity to anyone else, which leads me to my next point:
2. Conversion Therapy Undermines Identity
Conversion therapy basically takes one person's identity — an identity which doesn't harm or endanger anyone else, by the way — and responds to it by saying "Hmm, I don't like that, let's get it out of you." It's equivalent to treating simply having preferences as something that requires "treatment," like saying, "You there! I heard you had a predisposition for vanilla ice cream. We must get that out of you." Of course, sexuality is more serious than ice cream, but performing therapy because of it is just as ridiculous and inane as condemning someone for liking a certain dessert over another. Not only is conversion therapy harmful because there's nothing to treat, but it also completely undermines the idea that people are allowed to label themselves (or not, as the case may be) however they choose.
3. Conversion Therapy Can Actually Be Fatal
The American Psychological Association has shown that conversion therapy can lead to: Depression, guilt, helplessness, hopelessness, shame, social withdrawal, suicidality, substance abuse, stress, disappointment, self-blame, decreased self-esteem and authenticity to others, increased self-hatred, hostility and blame toward parents, feelings of anger and betrayal, loss of friends and potential romantic partners, problems in sexual and emotional intimacy, sexual dysfunction, high-risk sexual behaviors, a feeling of being dehumanized and untrue to self, a loss of faith, and a sense of having wasted time and resources. Hopefully, that should be enough for you to feel convinced that there's no therapy in the world that should be allowed to make people feel these ways.
4. There Is No Therapy That Can Change Sexual Orientation Or Gender Identity
So basically, reparative therapists are wasting their time.
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