American Psychological Association opposes transgender conversion “therapy” in historic statement

Transgender flag being waved in a crowd
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The biggest professional psychologist organization in the U.S. has come out against transgender conversion therapy in a new statement, saying that the practice puts “individuals at significant risk of harm.”

In a resolution adopted last month, the APA says that gender identity change efforts (GICE) “cause harm by reinforcing anti-transgender and anti-gender nonbinary stigma and discrimination; and by creating social pressure on an individual to conform to an identity and/or presentation that may not be consistent with their sense of self.”

Related: The American Psychological Association now requires researchers to use ‘they’ for non-binary people

“There is a growing body of research that shows that transgender or nonbinary gender identities are normal variations in human expression of gender,” said APA President Jennifer F. Kelly in a statement. “Attempts to force people to conform with rigid gender identities can be harmful to their mental health and well-being.”

The resolution cites copious literature about the harms of transgender conversion therapy and the lack of scientific evidence that a transgender person can be changed into a cisgender person. The resolution also lists out the other psychological associations that beat it to the punch and already came out against the practice.

“Individuals who have experienced pressure or coercion to conform to their sex assigned at birth or therapy that was biased toward conformity to one’s assigned sex at birth have reported harm resulting from these experience such as emotional distress, loss of relationships, and low self-worth,” the resolution states.

“Psychologists’ work is based upon established scientific and professional knowledge of the discipline,” it says. “APA recognizes that psychologists work is based upon Respect for People’s Rights and Dignity, Avoiding Harm, and Unfair Discrimination.”

“The APA opposes the dissemination of inaccurate information about gender identity, gender expression, and the efficacy of GICE, including the claim that gender identity can be changed through treatment, the characterization of transgender or gender nonbinary identity as a mental disorder and the promotion of treatments that prescribe gender identity or expression consistent with one’s birth-assigned sex as effective for clients with gender dysphoria,” the statement says.

“There is no question that denying a person’s gender identity is wrong,” said HRC President Alphonso David in a statement. “The consensus from the American Psychological Association further reinforces that we must rely on transgender people and their healthcare providers to determine treatment for gender affirming care in accordance with current medical best practices — this is not the place for politicians.”

Republican lawmakers in several states where they proposing bans on gender affirming health care for transgender young people have been claiming that transgender young people can be made to grow up into cisgender adults if their identities are not affirmed. The APA resolution contradicts that.

In 2009, the APA issued a statement opposing the practice of gay conversion therapy.

Currently 20 states ban the practice, as well as many local governments.

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