Major Points: Every reputable mental health or medical association in the US denounces conversion or reparative “therapy” as harmful to its victims.
The United Nations defines reparative “therapy” of transgener people as torture.
The UN calls for national laws prohibiting conversion and reparative “therapy” and calls for prosecution of those who violate those laws.
Americans, particularly “Christian counselors” continue to engage in this practice, even though it is based on pseudoscience and its practice denounced by every reputable medical organization.
“Leelah’s Law” is being proposed to stop reparative “therapy” in the US on a national level, both in the interest of stopping the torture of children and in helping prevent more needless suicides.
I’d like to thank Lexie Cannes for bringing the UN report to my attention.
NOTE: This post was written for Leelah’s Law: Support the Ban on Conversion Therapy and is reprinted here. This post may be reproduced only if it is reproduced in its entirety, including copyright notices.
© Jody Ann Malsbury & The Transgender Human Rights Institute.
There is nothing therapeutic about so-called reparative “therapy.” The American Psychoanalytic Association (APsaA), in its 2012 “Position Statement on Attempts to Change Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, or Gender Expression” stated:
Psychoanalytic technique does not encompass purposeful attempts to “convert,” “repair,” change or shift an individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. Such directed efforts are against fundamental principles of psychoanalytic treatment and often result in substantial psychological pain by reinforcing damage in internalized attitudes [emphasis added].
In fact, all other reputable medical and mental health professional associations in the US have denounced this practice: The American Psychiatric Association (APA), the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) the American Psychological Association (APA), the American Medical Association (AMA), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), just to name a few.
We Americans pride ourselves in being technologically innovative, socially advanced and somehow superior to the rest of the world. Despite the recent revelations about GW and the Torture Report revealing war crimes committed during his reign of terror, we Americans don’t generally view ourselves as barbaric people who torture children. Well, not so, according to the United Nations.
…“members of sexual minorities are disproportionately subjected to torture and other forms of ill-treatment because they fail to conform to socially constructed gender expectations. Indeed, discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity may often contribute to the process of the dehumanization of the victim, which is often a necessary condition for torture and ill-treatment to take place.” [emphasis added] (page 19)
Discriminating against, denying or trying to change someone’s gender identity or gender expression is clearly dehumanizing, as it seeks to malign or erase a core part of someone’s concept of who they are. Among recommendations in the report were for all nations:
… to repeal any law allowing intrusive and irreversible treatments, including forced genital-normalizing surgery, involuntary sterilization, unethical experimentation, medical display, reparative therapies” or “conversion therapies”, when enforced or administered without the free and informed consent of the person concerned. [emphasis added] (page 23)
“Without the free and informed consent of the person concerned.” Why would someone consent to what the UN itself has defined as torture? In any case, a minor child is legally unable to provide informed consent, therefore, any parent who subjects their child to so-called reparative or conversion “therapy”—clearly defined as torture by the UN—is violating at least 3 of the UN’s recommendations:
- Torture (child abuse, really) in the form of reparative “therapy”
- Lack of informed consent
- Lack of consent by the person concerned.
Finally, the UN report also calls for all nations to:
Promote accountability for torture and ill-treatment in health-care settings by identifying laws, policies and practices that lead to abuse; and enable national preventive mechanisms to systematically monitor, receive complaints and initiate prosecutions…. [emphasis added] (page 21)
I guess we’ll have to wait and see when Leelah’s Law is enacted to see what the likelihood of anyone actually being prosecuted will be.
Jody Ann Malsbury, MSW
LCSW, Retired; license no longer active
Clinical Social Worker & Psychotherapist
The Transgender Human Rights Institute is the first 501(c)3 transgender international human rights organization specifically organized for transgender rights worldwide.
© Jody Ann Malsbury & The Transgender Human Rights Institute. This post may be reproduced only if it is reproduced in its entirety, including copyright notices.
- Transgender Teen’s Death a Call to Action (hrc.org)
- Want to stop LGBT teens from committing suicide? Ban conversion therapy (dailydot.com)
World English Dictionaryyellow journalism— nthe type of journalism that relies on sensationalism and lurid exaggeration to attract readers http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/yellow+journalism
Yellow journalism, or the yellow press, is a type of journalism that presents little or no legitimate well-researched news and instead uses eye-catching headlines to sell more newspapers. Techniques may include exaggerations of news events, scandal-mongering, or sensationalism. By extension, the term yellow journalism is used today as a pejorative to decry any journalism that treats news in an unprofessional or unethical fashion. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellow_journalism
Thursday, 12 July 2012 15:08
Written by Sergio N. Candido
So Magic was asked the question he’s always been asked—how he got HIV—and he gave the same answer he has always given: “Sleeping with a lot of women.”
Gawker’s AJ Daulerio, however, writes that years back, a source told him Johnson might have actually gotten HIV not from a woman, but most likely during an infamous sex party at Eddie Murphy‘s mansion, where transsexual hookers were often involved.
The source wanted cash to go on the record, and the website didn’t have enough of it. But things have changed, and Gawker is now ready to write some checks: “If anyone has any more information about who gave Magic Johnson HIV, please feel free to contact us. I think we can afford to pay more money for this now,” Daulerio writes.
Zach Sire, editor of gay website the Sword, came out with guns blazing against Daulerio and his offer, calling him “dumb” and “sleazy.”
“If there’s one group of people whom you can trust with ‘information,’ it’s prostitutes and transexuals from orgies that happened over 20 years ago,” he writes in a sarcastic tone.
“A.J. Daulerio’s naivety has precluded him from realizing that even if he did receive proof of who gave Magic Johnson HIV publishing that person’s name would be illegal.”
We’re not sure what he meant by ‘illegal,’ you might get sued, but you can’t go to jail for publishing the name of someone who came forward and said he/she gave Magic Johnson HIV.
It is appalling to offer monetary compensation for revealing who exposed an individual to a chronic and likely terminal illness. That person is not only sick themselves, but may be deceased. Furthermore, it is unconscionable to sensationalize a story by exploiting an entire class of already oppressed human beings. Some—not all—transgender and transsexual women are sometimes forced into sex work as a last resort, in order to survive—sometimes in order to feed their children— just as cisgender women are. Headlines such as the one for this article serve to reinforce stereotypes about trans women. Finally, focusing on the behavior of prostitutes (oppressed women) instead of on that of their customers (in this case, privileged men of great wealth) who are using their male and monied privilege to take advantage of these women is pure misogyny; exploiting the possibility that these women may have been trans* is misogynistic and transphobic and is inexcusable in a “gay” publication. Many of my trans* friends support LGB people without reservation; I, however, am beginning to agree with those who doubt that LGB people in general truly have the best interest of trans* people at heart and am beginning to believe that they are merely including/using trans* people in the LGBT “community” (and I use the word “community” loosely, if not sarcastically) purely to increase their numbers.
1. What do you think of the headline for this article? Based on the 2 definitions of “yellow journalism” provided above, do you you think this article is an example of yellow journalism? Why or why not”?
2. Do you think trans* people should “secede” from the LTB movement and focus on needs specific to trans* people? Why or why not?
If you’re cisgender, have you ever even thought about these things? Probably not—you probably take these things for granted because you have “cisgender privilege.” Trans* people have to consider all of these on a daily basis.
30+ Examples of Cisgender Privilege
Use public restrooms without fear of verbal abuse, physical intimidation, or arrest.
Use public facilities such as gym locker rooms and store changing rooms without stares, fear, or anxiety.
Strangers don’t assume they can ask you what your genitals look like and how you have sex.
Your validity as a man/woman/human is not based on how much surgery you’ve had or how well you “pass” as non-transgender.
You have the ability to walk through the world and generally blend-in, not being constantly stared or gawked at, whispered about, pointed at, or laughed at because of your gender expression.
You can access gender exclusive spaces such as the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, Greek Life, or Take Back the Night and not be excluded due to your trans status.
Strangers call you by the name you provide, and don’t ask what your “real name” [birth name] is and then assume that they have a right to call you by that name.
You can reasonably assume that your ability to acquire a job, rent an apartment, or secure a loan will not be denied on the basis of your gender identity/expression.
You have the ability to flirt, engage in courtship, or form a relationship and not fear that your biological status may be cause for rejection or attack, nor will it cause your partner to question their sexual orientation.
If you end up in the emergency room, you do not have to worry that your gender will keep you from receiving appropriate treatment, or that all of your medical issues will be seen as a result of your gender.
Your identity is not considered a mental pathology (“gender identity disorder” in the DSM IV) by the psychological and medical establishments.
You have the ability to not worry about being placed in a sex-segregated detention center, holding facility, jail or prison that is incongruent with your identity.
You have the ability to not be profiled on the street as a sex worker because of your gender expression.
You are not required to undergo an extensive psychological evaluation in order to receive basic medical care.
You do not have to defend you right to be a part of “Queer,” and gays and lesbians will not try to exclude you from “their” equal rights movement because of your gender identity (or any equality movement, including feminist rights).
If you are murdered (or have any crime committed against you), your gender expression will not be used as a justification for your murder (“gay panic”) nor as a reason to coddle the perpetrators.
You can easily find role models and mentors to emulate who share your identity.
Hollywood accurately depicts people of your gender in films and television, and does not solely make your identity the focus of a dramatic storyline, or the punchline for a joke.
Be able to assume that everyone you encounter will understand your identity, and not think you’re confused, misled, or hell-bound when you reveal it to them.
Being able to purchase clothes that match your gender identity without being refused service/mocked by staff or questioned on your genitals.
Being able to purchase shoes that fit your gender expression without having to order them in special sizes or asking someone to custom-make them.
No stranger checking your identification or drivers license will ever insult or glare at you because your name or sex does not match the sex they believed you to be based on your gender expression.
You can reasonably assume that you will not be denied services at a hospital, bank, or other institution because the staff does not believe the gender marker on your ID card to match your gender identity.
Having your gender as an option on a form.
Being able to tick a box on a form without someone disagreeing, and telling you not to lie. Yes, this happens.
Not fearing interactions with police officers due to your gender identity.
Being able to go to places with friends on a whim knowing there will be bathrooms there you can use.
You don’t have to convince your parents of your true gender and/or have to earn your parents’ and siblings’ love and respect all over again.
You don’t have to remind your extended family over and over to use proper gender pronouns (e.g., after transitioning).
You don’t have to deal with old photographs that did not reflect who you truly are.
Knowing that if you’re dating someone they aren’t just looking to satisfy a curiosity or kink pertaining to your gender identity (e.g., the “novelty” of having sex with a trans person).
Being able to pretend that anatomy and gender are irrevocably entwined when having the “boy parts and girl parts” talk with children, instead of explaining the actual complexity of the issue.
Do you ever wonder what it’s like to be transgender or transsexual? Do you wonder what it would be like to experience incongruence between your identity and your anatomy? Do you wonder how much different you would be? [TRIGGER WARNING. Note: This will be explained at the end of the post.]
I have always valued my individuality. I have always worked to make a place for myself as myself. Of course, I did not always succeed. I was fighting a losing battle with my gender identity for years; but still attempted to be authentic. I conformed, as we all do at least sometimes, in order to fit in and to take advantage of the privileges that were afforded to me.
Over the years, I became increasingly uncomfortable with myself, with my body. I spent nights crying over the state of my body, followed by days of crippling gender dysphoria; sometimes it was all I could do to get out of bed. My body developed to be more specifically gendered: my skin became rougher; I began to grow hair all over my body; my muscles began to grow and become harder, stronger, and more defined. I hated the way this made me feel. I hated the way I fit inside my body. I felt clumsy; I felt encumbered.
I was angry. I became angry easily, and this made me even more angry. My temper was out of control at times. Inside, I felt a multitude of emotions rampaging through my thoughts. Externally, I reacted with anger, frustration, and violence. I wanted to cry, and instead I became physically violent. I wanted to talk about my feelings and share my passions. Instead I became tongue tied and frustrated.
In many ways, I still feel this way. Some days, I still struggle with negative body image issues and gender dysphoria; though never as severely now as before. Some days, I am angry.
Now, back to reality: Transgender and transsexual people live with some degree of this every moment of their entire lives, even AFTER transition.
If imagining yourself transgender/transsexual for a minute or so made you feel uncomfortable, THAT’S GOOD–it means you’re learning. Please pass this knowledge on to others to help in the battle against transphobia and the stigma associated with being trans*. ♥
Note: A “Trigger Warning” is a warning to trans* people (especially those in transition) that the material that follows may “trigger” or evoke feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, guilt and/or anxiety related to their own gender dysphoria, thus giving them the option as to whether to continue reading or not.