The Harms of Conversion Therapy

Art/Ted Lieu

Art/Ted Lieu

Editor’s Note: This featured article was written by 13-year-old Natalie Bronchetti , from New York, USA

In June of 2015 Gay Marriage became legal in all 50 states. There also have been many milestones for people who identify as transgender and other gender identities in the past few years. All though these are huge accomplishments, being gay, bisexual or trans is still not accepted in many parts of the country. Some parents turn to conversion therapy in hopes of making their child homosexual urges or gender identity go away. There are many harmful practices done during this “therapy”, yet it is still legal to put minors into Conversion Therapy in 35 out of the 50 states.

What Is Conversion Therapy?
Conversion Therapy also known as “reparative therapy” is the practice of trying to change one's sexual orientation from homosexual or bisexual to heterosexual or someone's gender they identify as to the gender they were born as using physiological and/or spiritual interventions.

Why Is It Harmful?
Conversion Therapy is harmful not just because of the awful and dangerous practices used but also because minors under gowning Conversion Therapy have high risks of suicide, homelessness, anxiety, depression and drug use according to The Human Rights Campaign. Leelah Alcorn was a trans-17-year old from Ohio. Like many trans kids, Leelah under gown Conversion Therapy. She wrote “fix society. Please.” in her suicide note that she posted on Tumblr. Leelah's death wasn’t just another statistic, it opened peoples eyes to the real danger of Conversion Therapy. 

What Practices Are Used?
In Conversion Therapy many practices ranging from manipulation to verbal and physical abuse. Aversion Therapy is commonly used. In Aversion Therapy, a patient associates a habit and connects it with an unpleasant effect in hopes of making the habit go away. In this case, the habit would be homosexual urges or feeling like you identify with a gender that doesn't match the gender or sex you were born as. The Huffington Post did an interview with a gay man who was put into Conversion Therapy when he was 15. In the interview, he goes by TC to keep his identity private. TC says “They were able to turn us against ourselves.” “We all shared a sense of loathing towards who we were and who we loved. It wasn’t just your regular ‘I hate myself.’ It was a disgust with the person you were and you wanted to do anything you could to change” This shows the terrible effects of Conversion Therapy. No child should have to feel disgusted with who they are and who they love especially during a time in their life when they are very vulnerable in adolescence.

Where Is It Legal and Illegal?
Conversion Therapy for minors is currently banned in 15 states plus the District of Columbia. These states include California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. This leaves 35 states with no ban on Conversion Therapy for minors.

How To Stop Conversion Therapy
Free speech is one of the most important rights we have in the United States. Here's how you can raise your voice to help. Call your congressmen and tell them the awful effects of Conversion Therapy. You can click here to find contact information for your senators, and click here for contact information for your representative. If you or know someone who has undergone Conversion Therapy encourage them to speak up, tell your story. Standing up and raises our voices is a superpower.