WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) is calling for an investigation into the potentially unfair or deceptive claims and advertising practices of therapists who administer so-called gay-to-straight “conversion therapy.”
Speier sent a letter Wednesday to the Federal Trade Commission demanding an investigation into the therapy in which mental health providers seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.
“Being transgender, gay, lesbian, or bisexual is not a disease to be cured or a mental illness that requires treatment. In spite of this fact, therapists continue to promise their ‘treatments’ will change their patients, including children,” Speier wrote.
“When children and adults undergo these so-called ‘treatments,’ they don’t come home from sessions ‘ex-gay’ as their therapists promised. Instead, studies show that these abusive therapy practices pose critical health risks to their patients, including decreased self-esteem, confusion, guilt, shame, helplessness, hopelessness, social withdrawal, and substance abuse.
“The statistics are frightening: Conversion therapy patients are 5.9 times more likely than their ‘un-treated’ LGBT peers to report depression, and 8.4 times more likely to attempt suicide. These are the statistics you won’t find on a ‘conversion’ therapist’s website or brochure.”
Speier’s letter called on the FTC to (1) investigate the claims and advertising practices of therapists who perform conversion therapy, in order to identify those who are making scientifically invalid claims; (2) Enforce any applicable laws regarding false claims to prevent conversion therapists from misinforming parents, patients, and the public; (3) Properly assess the practice of conversion therapy as “unfair or deceptive.”