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Kristin Beasley and Candi Hood

Views & Voices

Reparative therapy: ‘It is shocking that we are still shocking people!’

Sunday, February 10, 2013

It is shocking that we are still shocking people!

Forty years ago, in 1973, the American Psychiatric Association announced that homosexuality was not a mental illness. “Conversion or Reparative therapy” has been rejected by the World Health Organization, the American Psychological Association and almost every other professional therapeutic group in America to date.

When a medication is harmful, we pull it off the market, yet we allow a so-called therapeutic practice that we know is harmful to be used on minors. There is something very wrong here.

Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance, Calif.) sponsored California’s Senate Bill 1172 that was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown last year. The law would officially ban California Licensed Mental Health Professionals from practicing “reparative therapy,” which attempts to change the sexual orientation and/or gender identity of a minor.

There are dreadful consequences for children who are often subjected to these practices at the insistence of misled parents who either do not know any better or do not believe that the practices are harmful.

While this law is certainly a step in the right direction, it is weak in that it only covers state-licensed therapists.  Many clergy, “ex-gay groups,” and other untrained and unlicensed counselors sell snake oil to parents who unknowingly subject their LGBTQ children to dangerous treatment that is unnecessary and not effective.

Sexual orientation change efforts cause serious health risks, including depression, social withdrawal, substance abuse, self-harm, and suicide. So, why do we allow state licensed, trained mental health professionals to practice an unsafe treatment for a disorder that does not exist?

Why don’t we embrace these families and support parents in understanding and loving their kids regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity?

We should be educating parents and youth about healthy relationships regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. The choice that we should be making is not whether it is ethical to emotionally and at times physically abuse youth so they will “choose” to act heterosexual, but how to support equality so all people can live authentically.

Our society sends such a strong message that the only option is heterosexuality when in reality human sexuality is a spectrum. There are a slew of late-to-life lesbians and gay men who realized or accepted they were gay after marriages with children. Some were blinded by socialization, others were tortured by stigma and abuse.

Homophobia is ingrained in our society and those messages are so powerful that they often lead people astray from their true identity.

After many years of marriages to men, with six children between us, my partner and I realized we were lesbians and in love.  We left 17 year marriages, blended our families and lost our careers, but we wrote our story, From Privilege to PRIDE: Love is the Road.

We are lucky in a way, because have lived on both sides of heterosexual privilege and know very clearly the difference.

Too often, a person who identifies as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender finds it impossible to ever truly feel good about who they are or who they love because they cannot overcome all the overwhelming negative messages of rejection from the people who should love them unconditionally – their family.

This truth is echoed in the words of a young man who tragically and eloquently described the experience of being rejected by his family in his “It Gets Better” video.

He stated “My anxiety, depression, self-loathing, and suicidal thoughts spiked. . . .I was being taught that the inherent, very essence of my being was unattainable and unacceptable. My parents told me that among other things I was disgusting, perverted, unnatural and damned to hell. . . .I know how it feels to live in a world of government-sanctioned homophobia, but I refuse to be treated as a second class citizen.” EricJames Borges completed suicide a few months later at the age of 19.

By allowing the practice of reparative therapy to continue, we protect and even sanction it under the guise of religious freedom, and it’s time we open our eyes and see this practice for what it is – barbaric, inhumane, and ultimately ineffective.

No one has ever been cured of homosexuality through reparative therapy, nor should they.

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14 more reader comments:

  1. “I’m getting married in the morning… ding dong, he’ll get it up the arse…pull out my whopper…he likes a topper..but get me to the church on time!”

    Posted on Sunday, February 10, 2013 at 11:03am
  2. Time to start shock therapy on Christians, they’re so sick they believe in mythological beings.

    Posted on Sunday, February 10, 2013 at 11:11am
  3. Until the scientific community finally comes out and says we are born into our sexual orientation, this “reparative therapy” will continue to be a problem along with other ignorant behaviors and actions like the ignorant assumption that influence through nurturing causes someone to be “gay.”

    The AMA and APA have come so close saying it by stating being homosexual isn’t a mental illness while simultaneously stating you can’t change a person’s sexual orientation. Isn’t this just like saying you are born into your sexual orientation ju like left handedness is nature and not nurture? (Remember the abuse inflicted on left handed people at one time by parents, teachers, and even so-called professionals to make them right handed).

    Again, until the scientific/medical community officially states we are born into our sexuality, this layered problem will never go away.

    Posted on Sunday, February 10, 2013 at 11:25am
  4. being gay lesbian bisexual transgender isent a mental illness but what is is beliving that it is and useing that to trie and cure something that dosent need a cure and those who belive in this bullshit therapy are the ones who should go to therapy

    Posted on Sunday, February 10, 2013 at 11:47am

    Posted on Sunday, February 10, 2013 at 11:49am
  6. Shock therapy for major Depression is enormously successful. It is performed under mild anesthesia and its a shame it is not practiced more broadly. I personally know patients who’ve had complete reversal of depression from shock therapy. This connection taints its success.

    Posted on Sunday, February 10, 2013 at 12:42pm
  7. Belief is the truth held in the mind; Faith is a fire in the heart..!!

    Posted on Sunday, February 10, 2013 at 1:49pm
  8. Love is love period

    Posted on Sunday, February 10, 2013 at 2:04pm
  9. Stop saying reparative ,just say brainwashing ,,,…dont use the big words when others will do !!!!

    Posted on Friday, February 15, 2013 at 1:26pm
  10. Given that psychology as a science of health, must preserve and understand the identity of the subject and promote the culture of peace and respect for human rights, we believe that Mr. Silas Lima Malafaia, pastor and psychologist (CRP / RJ 24 678), for having homophobic behaviors shown repeatedly that pathologize homosexuality, disregarding the scientific method and professional ethics, should be subjected to administrative investigation to prevent her performance as a psychologist. Thus, we call upon the President of the CRP / RJ opening of inquiry to investigate the conduct described above and verify that it is incompatible with the CFP Resolution 001/99, which would result in forfeiture of professional record of Mr. Silas.

    Tendo em vista que a Psicologia, enquanto ciência da saúde, que preserva e compreende a identidade dos sujeitos e promove a cultura de paz e de respeito aos direitos humanos, nós, acreditamos que o Sr. Silas Lima Malafaia (CRP/RJ 24.678), por ter apresentado repetidamente comportamentos homofóbicos e que patologizam a homossexualidade, desrespeitando o método científico, deve ser submetido a inquérito administrativo que impeça sua atuação como psicólogo. Desta forma, solicitamos à senhora Presidente do CRP/RJ a abertura de inquérito, que investigue os comportamentos descritos acima e que verifiquem sua incompatibilidade com a resolução CFP 001/99, o que resultaria na cassação do registro profissional do sr. Silas.

    Posted on Friday, February 15, 2013 at 1:43pm
  11. Sick and Sadistic! :/

    Posted on Friday, February 15, 2013 at 1:45pm
  12. I go where the evidence takes me… The EVIDENCE proves that no amount of therapy of ANY kind can alter a persons sexual orientation. It can CLARIFY it for people with Orientation Confusion due to Abuse in Childhood, but your Sexual Orientation is based in your genetics and brain biology.

    I find it truly disturbing that we are still debating this despite the MOUNTAINS of evidence that Homosexuality, Bisexuality, and Heterosexuality is 90% what you’re born with.

    Posted on Friday, February 15, 2013 at 1:54pm
  13. Shocking should be illegal. Being gay is like being left handed – it’s a variation of humanity, not a sickness.

    Posted on Friday, February 15, 2013 at 2:14pm
  14. Just like forcing hormones on an intersex child or teenager because you’d prefer they looked like something YOU’D sleep with.

    Posted on Friday, February 15, 2013 at 7:51pm