Seattle Bans Conversion Therapy

The Seattle City Council voted to ban conversion therapy on LGBTQ youth on August 1st. The vote was unanimous.

Seattle is the third city to ban conversion therapy (or “reparative” therapy), joining Washington DC and Cincinnati.

Conversion therapy is an attempt to change LGBTQ youth and make them straight. It has been condemned by “every major medical and mental health organization in the United States” based on a body of evidence that the “therapy” can be affirmatively harmful to LGBTQ youth, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Author Garrard Conley , who has undergone the therapy, calls it a “death sentence”.

Seattle City Councilwoman Debora Juarez likens it to the forced assimilation of Native Americans into mainstream Eurocentric culture.

Conversion therapy is the 20th century or 21st century version of what happened to my people all in the name in assimilation. We were forcibly taken from our families, from our children. I am literally one generation removed from that practice. –Debora Juarez, member of the Blackfoot nation.

Conversion therapy (along with the rights of transgender people to use the bathroom of their chosen gender) is addressed by the Republican Platform, which states that “reparative” therapy should be available and that it should be left up to the parents of LGBTQ youth whether or not to subject them to it.

Sources:

 

Rabbit Hole: ACP statement, Dr. McHugh, Leelah’s Law

Symbol-des-Tages_TransGender_2006-03-29From Think Progress:  Hate Group Masquerading as Pediatricians Attacks Transgender Youth:

As trans activist Brynn Tannehill pointed out in her own debunk of ACP’s statement, it appears to have been spearheaded by Dr. Paul McHugh of Johns Hopkins University. He is one of the only prominent doctors in the country that rejects transgender equality, distorting and rejecting research as is necessary to do so. Conservatives regularly rely on him to prop up their anti-trans talking points and he in turn contributes columns to their publications.

From Brynn Tannehill on Huffington Post: Johns Hopkins Professor Endangers Lives of Transgender Youth:

Somewhere out there, a parent will follow his advice. Or a court, or child protective services. We already know it happens when they do. We know the results from anecdotes and years of research, and it looks like Leelah Alcorn.

This isn’t just about academic freedom. It’s about the reputation of the institution. It’s about the moral obligation to do no harm.

And if all of those things are meaningless to Johns Hopkins administration, it’s also about liability. Someday, someone who followed McHugh’s advice, with your implied blessing, is going to show up on your doorstep with a lawyer and a dead child.

From Wikipedia: Death of Leelah Alcorn:

Leelah’s Law

A Facebook group called “Justice for Leelah Alcorn” was established,[56] while a petition calling for “Leelah’s Law”, a ban on conversion therapy in the United States, was created by the Transgender Human Rights Institute to raise awareness of the psychologically harmful effects of such practices; by January 24 it had 330,009 signatures,[47][57][58][59] and was named the fastest growing change.org petition of 2014.[60] A second appeal demanding the enactment of “Leelah’s Law” was posted to the We the People section of WhiteHouse.gov on January 3, 2015 which garnered more than 100,000 signatures as of January 30.[61] In response to the petition President Barack Obama called for the banning of conversion therapy for minors.[62] Under the Twitter hashtag #RealLiveTransAdult, many transgender people posted encouraging tweets for their younger counterparts,[63] while other hashtags, such as #ProtectTransKids, and the term “Rest in Power”, also circulated on Twitter.[9][64][65][66] A change.org petition was set up calling for Leelah’s chosen name to be included on her gravestone,[29] which gained over 80,000 signatures.[39] On January 6, Adam Hoover of Marriage Equality Ohio remarked that, since the request of having Alcorn’s chosen name on her gravestone seemed “like a slim possibility”, they would be raising money for a permanent memorial arranged as a bench, tree and commemorative plaque.[39] In April 2015, President Obama responded to the petition seeking to ban conversion therapy inspired by Alcorn’s death with a pledge to advocate for such a ban.[67]

In December 2015, Cincinnati became the second U.S. city after Washington D.C. to ban the practice of conversion therapy outright; council member Chris Seelbach cited Alcorn’s suicide as an influence in the decision, stating that “She challenged us to make her death matter, and we’re doing just that.”[68]

From #BornPerfect: Facts About Conversion Therapy:

All of the nation’s leading professional medical and mental health associations have rejected conversion therapy as unnecessary, ineffective, and dangerous. These groups have cautioned that the practices do not work and have warned patients that they may be harmful. For example, the American Psychological Association “advises parents, guardians, young people, and their families to avoid sexual orientation change efforts that portray homosexuality as a mental illness or developmental disorder and to seek psychotherapy, social support, and educational services that provide accurate information on sexual orientation and sexuality, increase family and school support, and reduce rejection of sexual minority youth.

To end conversion therapy, look at #BornPerfect: Laws and Legislation By State.  If your state doesn’t have a bill that’s been introduced yet, work with state representatives and senators to get a bill authored.  Also consider working directly with your city council.  Like the movement to legalize gay marriage, the end conversion therapy may need to start locally and as a grassroots effort.

Rabbit Hole is a regular feature that starts with one article and follows the links within that article to the next, and so on.  Look for more Rabbit Hole posts in the future.