Conversion Therapy

Hi all,

It’s been a while, I’m sorry! As many of you may have seen in recent news, conversion therapy was still legal in the UK (in fact worldwide!) I was very naive, and had no idea this was still a thing in 2022! So it came as a huge shock to hear this. The next shock was that, our government decided to do a U-turn on conversion therapy and banning it… but only for Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual people, completely missing out on the transgender and non-binary community!

They justify this by comparing conversion therapy to ‘counselling’ and regular therapy. However, this is not the case… I have heard and see many stories of people undergoing conversion therapy as a child as well as adults (because there is no age limit on conversion therapy) – who are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) every single day now as a result of this.

I am a cis-gender female, however, I have many transgender friends and proud to have a transgender boyfriend who I love and support fully. Conversion therapy is so inhumane. It doesn’t take a government meeting and vote to see how wrong this is. They would not allow conversion therapy for anything else such as religion or culture?

Conversion therapy is against the Human Rights Act (1998) and Equality Act (2010) based on someone’s sexuality or gender. However, this is being allowed this to happen every day in the LGBTQ+ community with the conversion therapy that happens and actively tortures and damages people’s lives. In recent news it was leaked that the government will ban conversion therapy but only for the Lesbian Gay and Bisexual (LGB) community and disregarding the trans community. Not only it this unethical, but this is active discrimination. 

I have witness so much hate crime online towards the LGBTQ+ community but more so targeted at transgender people. Not only online but within our healthcare system as well. These are human beings, these are lives being cost, these are people who go through hate, brutality daily from friends, family, and strangers. And now, they are being targeted by the people who they should trust, our healthcare professionals as well as the government. 

According to the Government’s LGBT Survey, 7% of LGBT+ people have been offered conversion therapy, rising to 13% of trans people and 10% of asexual people (stonewall, 2022). Below are some testimonies taken from Stonewall (2022) from LGBTQ+ people who went through conversion therapy. 

‘I went into total denial about my sexuality and embraced the idea that I had been “cured”. At the same time, my mental health bombed, and my self-harm increased dramatically. In 2009, I tried to kill myself.

“It was only last year, aged 38, I finally accepted that I am gay. Even today, when I know that God loves me for who I am, the guilt around my sexuality is so hard to shake.’

(George – a gay woman in her 30’)

‘Today I struggle with trauma, PTSD, and an eating disorder which are all linked to my conversion therapy experiences.

I have a difficult time with relationships, and intimacy scares me. A lot of people can’t comprehend what it’s like to have experiences like mine, even LGBT people. My parents still don’t understand why I didn’t want to have conversion therapy, or why it was so damaging. They think all therapy is a good thing.’

Eli – a gay man in his 20s

‘Whenever I remembered the treatment I’d had, I would start physically shaking. In that sense you could say that the therapy “worked”, in that it affected my body. But, in terms of my mind, and my thoughts, it only made me hate myself more.

The treatment didn’t stop, or even decrease, my feelings of dysphoria. I struggled with it for decades. It was only when I retired early – aged 55 – that I felt I could live openly as myself. And while things got so much better, I’d still have flashbacks from my aversion therapy sessions 40 years later.’

Carolyn – a trans woman in her 70s

In another survey, 51% of respondents stated these conversion therapies were taking place by religious or people of faith. I understand a lot of faith groups, religions and cultures hide behind this to justify their crimes against the LGBTQ+ communities. However, looking into the research and history of LGBTQ+ people, they go back to 200bc! People from LGBTQ+ communities have been around for centuries and accepted in every religion, culture, race. It wasn’t until more recent years that things started to change, and it became illegal to be gay and death penalties introduced in some countries for this. So, for anyone to use their faith, culture, or religion to justify conversion therapy or any hate crimes against the LGBTQ+ is completely wrong. This history and information are freely available on the national history website, stonewall and other various credible sources to research yourself and gain a better understanding of this.

In addition, a recent 2020 survey showed that young people from the trans and non-binary community (52%) are more likely to attempt suicide compared to cis-gender people (34%). These statistics above and testimonies are only from people who have come forward to report them. This will not be a fully accurate result from your survey of the impact conversion therapy is having.

Don’t get me wrong, therapy and counselling is needed out there for people and has been a huge benefit with mental health etc. However, conversion… is not ok. You can’t just convert someone who was born a certain way. People are using ‘conversion therapy’ to torture others by electric shock, sexual, physical and mental abuse of people. This is not ok and needs to be stopped.

Google image (2022)

The BMA (2022) have produced an article on banning conversion therapy which can be accessed here for more information.

On Sunday 10th April 2020, I listened to a transgender woman, who was now an adult. She went through conversion therapy as a child. She was physically abuse as well as emotionally abused. As an adult she has regular flash backs daily, PTSD and hears the voices of these violent people and what they did to her. I stood there and sobbed hearing her words and that this is being allowed to happen!? This is not ok.

As a healthcare professional, I agree with counselling and talking therapies to help people and to give advice and information. However, I do not agree with conversion therapy and the torture that people endure with this. I hope that our government will see sense and do a full ban for all conversion therapy for ALL LGBTQIA people like other countries have.

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