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Conversion Therapy – Everything to Know

Conversion Therapy - Everything to Know

Conversion Therapy – Everything to Know

Conversion therapy refers to any interventions that seek to change a person’s gender identity or sexual orientation. These types of therapies work toward “curing” an individual from being lesbian, gay, bi, trans, ace, intersex, and queer. You can think that these practices are outdated, but they still happen to the LGBTQIA+ community.

Understanding Conversion Therapy

Conversion therapies can take various forms, including psychotherapy, faith-based, and medical strategies.

Psychotherapy or talk therapy is one of the most popular methods of conversion therapy. In addition to talk therapy, clinicians can include behavioral, cognitive or interpersonal therapies.

During the sessions, some providers teach stereotypical feminine and masculine behaviors in trying to interfere with thought patterns for same-sex attraction.

Another common method that providers use is aversion therapy. With this approach, clinicians expose individuals to uncomfortable or painful sensations like nausea, electric shocks, or paralysis-causing drugs to create a negative perception of a person’s identity or attractions.

Many traditional religious practices view homosexuality and other gender expressions as evil. In fact, it is only recently that we have seen some religions allow same-sex marriages, but most religions don’t allow it. A recent example is the Orthodox Church.

Clergies and spiritual advisors sometimes perform conversion therapies. This can be in the form of prayers, gay slurs, etc. In worse scenarios, they can use exorcism, food deprivation, and shackling.

Clinicians who are not compassionate about the issues of the LGBTQ+ community can aid in conversion therapies. Their strategies can include medicine, hormone or steroid therapies, and in severe cases, perform gender-affirming surgeries to neutralize sexual orientation in transgender individuals.

Why Medical and Mental Health Experts Oppose Conversion Therapy

The risks of conversion therapy extend far beyond its ineffectiveness and the time and cost on “therapies” that do not work. It can also lead to negative mental health outcomes and more cases of attempting suicide.

According to The Trevor Project’s 2020 National Survey on LGBTQ+ Youth Mental Health, 10% of LGBTQ+ youth reported undergoing conversion therapies, with 78% reporting it occurred when they were under age 18. Youth who reported undergoing conversion therapies reported more than twice the rate of attempting suicide in the past year than those who did not.

Furthermore, a peer-reviewed study published by The Trevor Project in the American Journal of Public Health found that LGBTQ+ youth who underwent conversion therapies were more than twice as likely to report having attempted suicide and more than 2.5 times as likely to report multiple suicide attempts in the past year.

That’s why the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics widely oppose this form of therapy.

A Type of Child Abuse?

Conversion therapies worsen the feelings of shame and stigma experienced by many LGBTQ+ young individuals. Parents who attempt to alter their child’s sexual orientation or gender identity not only deepen the sense of rejection and vulnerability their child faces. They also risk severely damaging their relationship. According to a 2018 study conducted by The Family Acceptance Project:

  • The rate of attempted suicide among LGBTQ+ young people subjected to parental attempts to change their sexual orientation was more than double (48%) that of LGBTQ+ young adults who had not undergone conversion experiences (22%).
  • Suicide attempts nearly tripled for LGBTQ+ young individuals who reported both in-home and external efforts to alter their sexual orientation (63%).
  • High levels of depression more than doubled (33%) for LGBTQ+ young people whose parents attempted to change their sexual orientation than those who reported no conversion experiences (16%), and more than tripled (52%) for LGBTQ+ young people who reported both in-home and external attempts to change their sexual orientation.
  • Experiences of sexual orientation change during adolescence, whether by parents/caregivers or through therapy and religious interventions, were linked to lower socioeconomic status, reduced educational attainment, and lower weekly income in young adulthood.

Should We Ban Conversion Therapy in Faith Settings?

Many LGBTQ+ individuals undergo lengthy periods of self-reflection and exploration of their sexual orientation and gender identity. Often, they seek support from therapists, psychologists, as well as religious leaders or communities during this journey. When spiritual counseling or guidance is conducted openly and affirmatively, it can serve as invaluable support for individuals.

However, if spiritual guidance, counseling, or prayer coerce individuals into altering their sexual orientation or gender identity, it ceases to be genuine support. Instead, it constitutes conversion therapy and amounts to abuse.

It’s crucial to clarify that a ban on conversion therapy in faith settings does not intend to impede prayer or criminalize regular religious or faith-based activities. The freedom of religion or belief is a fundamental right cherished by many LGBTQ+ individuals. Nevertheless, no freedom or right should permit the harm, abuse, or torture of others.

We Can Connect You to the Right Mental Help

Engaging in conversion therapies can result in feelings of inadequacy or harm, which can severely impact your self-esteem and overall well-being. This emotional distress can have significant repercussions on both your mental and physical health. Numerous medical and mental health organizations have publicly denounced the use of conversion therapies due to these detrimental effects.

Additionally, many individuals offering conversion therapies often lack proper credentials as licensed mental health professionals or medical experts.

At LGBTQ and All, we are always committed to helping individuals explore their sexual orientation without fear of judgment. We provide LGBTQ resources to help create awareness regarding issues that these minority groups face. Additionally, we provide mental health resources to ensure you connect with an LGBTQ-friendly therapist or psychologist.

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