The American Medical Association (AMA) came to the decision this week that they will advocate for legislation bringing conversion therapy in the United States to an end.
“The AMA will develop model state legislation and advocate for federal legislation to ban so-called reparative or conversion therapy for sexual orientation or gender identity,” the organization said in a statement. “The support for legislative bans strengthens AMA’s long-standing opposition to this unscientific practice.”
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While conversion therapy is banned from being performed on children in 18 states and the District of Columbia, it is not banned anywhere in the country from being performed on adults, nor is it banned in its entirety. Board member William E. Kobler stated in the press release that “It is clear to the AMA that the conversion therapy needs to end in the United States given the risk of deliberate harm to LGBTQ people…conversion therapy has no foundation as scientifically valid medical care and lacks credible evidence to support its efficacy or safety.”
The AMA’s Interim Meeting, held with “physician and medical student leaders from all corners of medicine” in San Diego, helps shape the policies of the medicinal group. Attendees were swayed by the testimony of conversion therapy survivors, who described the ‘procedures’ used on them and the after effects of them. According to The Trevor Project, “Conversion therapists use a variety of shaming, emotionally traumatic or physically painful stimuli to make their victims associate those stimuli with their LGBTQ identities.” They also estimate that at least 80,000 LGBTQ youth will be subjected to this pseudoscience in the coming years.
Additionally, the Interim Meeting also proposed new recommendations such as maintaining “fully inclusive EHRs for transgender patients,” providing education and training to medical staff on sexual orientation and gender identity, and closing the racially divisive pay gap within the AMA.
The AMA had stopped recommending therapies for “aversion” of sexual orientation since 1996, and publicly opposed all forms of conversion therapy since 2012. “The use of ‘reparative’ or ‘conversion’ therapy….is based upon the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder or …[the] assumption that the patient should change his/her homosexual orientation,” the organization wrote at the time of their 2012 opposition.
In a statement, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) supported the AMA’s Interim Meeting conclusion. “These new policies from the American Medical Association reaffirm the urgent need to protect LGBTQ youth from this dangerous practice,” HRC President Alphonso David stated, “No child should have to endure this painful and life-threatening practice, and we are glad to see the AMA taking seriously the need to protect LGBTQ youth.”