Conversion Therapy Is Dangerous & More Common Than We Admit

Conversion Therapy Is Dangerous & Far Too Common

Most people assume that conversion therapy is an antiquated and long-gone practice when it is currently impacting thousands of American youth.


I was recently watching the movie "Boy Erased" with my mom. She asked me how recently this story had taken place and was shocked when I said the boy in the movie underwent conversion therapy in 2004. She came up with question after question: how common is it today? How many people does it affect? What laws are in place? I did some quick googling and she was surprised to learn that conversion therapy is only illegal for minors in 15 states and Washington D.C. I also told her that it is predicted that 20,000 youth between the ages of 13 and 17 will experience conversion therapy programs before they turn 18.

The stories of LGBTQ+ youth committing suicide due to conversion therapy are endless, while countless others report physical and sexual assault while undergoing the "treatment". These programs advertise that homosexual identity can be cured and that LGBTQ+ individuals have the capabilities to change their thoughts and feelings. Most conversion therapy is religiously supported and motivated, with churches and religious organizations being the creators of many such programs.

Those that have come out of conversion therapy report stories of emotional abuse through therapy sessions with other participants. Those within the programs are reportedly taught that if they are unable to become heterosexual it is their own personal failure. Participants are physically harmed while watching homoerotic film or images. Being given elastic bands to punish themselves when they have homosexual thoughts and practices to associate shame with homosexuality are also common. Use of electric shock therapy has even been reported as part of the "treatment" involved in conversion therapy. Conversion therapy programs additionally focus on gender identity and gender-specific traits. Organizations teach proper behavior for each gender, requiring "patients" to exhibit behavior that is stereotypically masculine or feminine.

Scientifically, it has been proven that being gay cannot be "cured" and that these programs do not work. There is no scientific evidence that conversion therapy can actually change LGBTQ+ behavior or feelings. The practice of these programs to refer to LGBTQ+ individuals as having a disease or mental disorder is also scientifically ungrounded. Several medical institutions including The American Psychological Association, The American Medical Association, The American Academy of Pediatrics, and The National Association of School Psychologists have spoken out against conversion therapy. These organizations say that the practice is medically inaccurate and has the potential to hurt patients more than helping them as a result of the mental and emotional impacts of conversion therapy.

It is shocking that conversion therapy is still allowed to be practiced at all and that 35 states still allow minors to undergo such treatment. The Vice President of the United States and the Republican Party have even come out with statements that seemingly support the practice. It seems ridiculous that something that has no evidence of being effective is still being practiced and that little to no attempt is being made to save kids from the falsehoods they are being told about how they can "fix" themselves. We need to take a serious look at how we handle this issue and remember that kids are supposed to be taught to embrace who they are, not that a fake medical treatment is the secret to being the right kind of human being.

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This Is How Your Same-Sex Marriage Affects Me As A Catholic Woman

I hear you over there, Bible Bob.

It won't.

Wait, what?

I promise you did read that right. Not what you were expecting me to say, right? Who another person decides to marry will never in any way affect my own marriage whatsoever. Unless they try to marry the person that I want to, then we might have a few problems.

As a kid, I was raised, baptized, and confirmed into an old school Irish Catholic church in the middle of a small, midwestern town.

Not exactly a place that most people would consider to be very liberal or open-minded. Despite this I was taught to love and accept others as a child, to not cast judgment because the only person fit to judge was God. I learned this from my Grandpa, a man whose love of others was only rivaled by his love of sweets and spoiling his grandkids.

While I learned this at an early age, not everyone else in my hometown — or even within my own church — seemed to get the memo. When same-sex marriage was finally legalized country-wide, I cried tears of joy for some of my closest friends who happen to be members of the LGBTQ community.

I was happy while others I knew were disgusted and even enraged.

"That's not what it says in the bible! Marriage is between a man and a woman!"

"God made Adam and Eve for a reason! Man shall not lie with another man as he would a woman!"

"Homosexuality is a sin! It's bad enough that they're all going to hell, now we're letting them marry?"

Alright, Bible Bob, we get it, you don't agree with same-sex relationships. Honestly, that's not the issue. One of our civil liberties as United States citizens is the freedom of religion. If you believe your religion doesn't support homosexuality that's OK.

What isn't OK is thinking that your religious beliefs should dictate others lives.

What isn't OK is using your religion or your beliefs to take away rights from those who chose to live their life differently than you.

Some members of my church are still convinced that their marriage now means less because people are free to marry whoever they want to. Honestly, I wish I was kidding. Tell me again, Brenda how exactly do Steve and Jason's marriage affect yours and Tom's?

It doesn't. Really, it doesn't affect you at all.

Unless Tom suddenly starts having an affair with Steve their marriage has zero effect on you. You never know Brenda, you and Jason might become best friends by the end of the divorce. (And in that case, Brenda and Tom both need to go to church considering the bible also teaches against adultery and divorce.)

I'll say it one more time for the people in the back: same-sex marriage does not affect you even if you or your religion does not support it. If you don't agree with same-sex marriage then do not marry someone of the same sex. Really, it's a simple concept.

It amazes me that I still actually have to discuss this with some people in 2017. And it amazes me that people use God as a reason to hinder the lives of others.

As a proud young Catholic woman, I wholeheartedly support the LGBTQ community with my entire being.

My God taught me to not hold hate so close to my heart. He told me not to judge and to accept others with open arms. My God taught me to love and I hope yours teaches you the same.

Disclaimer - This article in no way is meant to be an insult to the Bible or religion or the LGBTQ community.

Cover Image Credit: Sushiesque / Flickr

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The Hardest Part Of Transitioning Isn't Physical Or External At All, It's The Internal Struggle You Face

My daily battles are far from over


Life before I started my transition was extremely hard. Imagine waking up in a home that wasn't yours but you are forced to remain there, held prisoner. It was constantly feeling like I was drowning, even though I was nowhere near any body of water. I was suffocating, though my airways were clear. It was the feeling you get when you're running away from your killer in a nightmare, but no matter how hard you try, your legs won't move fast enough and no scream can escape your mouth. It's was accepting defeat and just painfully waiting for an end.

Transitioning saved my life, there's no doubt about it. I don't think I would still be alive and living if I hadn't taken the plunge and gotten the help I needed. I wouldn't have wanted to be. Life before transitioning was not a life at all. Life before transitioning was trying to see without my glasses, yet everyone else had 20/20. It was living in a black & white world, stripped of all color, while everyone else's appeared to be bright and beautiful.

I thought all of my problems would disappear the moment that first needle pierced my skin and the testosterone coursed through my veins, but I was wrong. Transitioning has done and continues to do wonders for me; mind, body, and soul. However, the daily battles are far from over.

The hardest part of transitioning was not having to come out over and over again to everyone in my life. Not having to explain myself and justify why I was doing what I was doing, feeling the need to prove myself each time. The hardest part isn't having to give myself an injection once a week, even though I have a fear of needles. The hardest part isn't knowing those injections are the only reason I appear to be a man, feeling artificial or fake. The hardest part wasn't the overwhelming anxiety I got while trying to tell my friends I planned on transitioning, and praying to God they would still love and accept me.

The hardest part of transitioning was not having to accept that no matter what I do, there are some people in the world that will recognize me as everything but a real man. The hardest part isn't dealing with the hateful comments, threats, or physical contact I receive from someone who doesn't agree with the way I'm living. The hardest part of transitioning was not looking my mother in the eyes, while my body was shaking like a leaf, and having to watch her heart break as I told her that her only daughter wasn't actually her daughter at all, but her son. The hardest part of transitioning, although you would think it would be, was not the rejection and denial from some family members, leaving me cut off like a dead end.

The hardest part of transitioning isn't anything physical at all, yet I wish it was, then it could be an easy fix. By far, the hardest part of transitioning is the everlasting and exhausting war I'll fight with my mental state. The greatest battle I struggle with is the one that takes place in the neighborhood between my ears. The hardest part of transitioning is the internal pain I experience when my subconscious and conscious sexes are at odds with one another. This gender dissonance manifested itself in many ugly ways. Sometimes I found myself getting jealous or angry with others who seemed so naturally happy with the body they had. Other times it was sadness, a chronic and persistent grief over the fact that I was stuck in a body I felt so detached from and shameful in.

The hardest part is waking up every day feeling like I have to prove to myself and to the world that I am, in fact, a man. It's canceling plans and staying in for the night because my body dysphoria had gotten the best of me and convinced me I still looked like the girl I had tried so hard to leave behind. It's not wanting to speak to anyone, not even my girlfriend on the phone after a long day, because every time I talk I hear my voice pre-T. It's convincing myself I'm not an actual male because I don't have a stupid appendage between my legs and feeling incomplete until I do. It's feeling like at my best, I'll still only be equal to a "normal man" at his worst. It's wanting bottom surgery more than anything in the world hoping it will cure all of these thoughts, but knowing I'll see the scars as a reminder that I wasn't born with it. The hardest part of transitioning is knowing in my heart and soul that I am a man, but seeing myself on the exterior as a female, no matter how many surgeries I undergo, or how many vials of testosterone I burn through. It's a battle I now know I'll have to fight every day for the rest of my life.

It's easy for bystanders to discount the fact that transgender folk experience any kind of real pain in regards to their gender. Why wouldn't it be? It's something invisible that they will never have to live through in their lifetime. However, these same people understand that being stuck in a dead end job or held captive in a toxic relationship makes a person unbelievably miserable, filling them with a depression so intense that it spills over into all the other areas in that person's life. This type of pain can be tolerated temporarily, yes, but cannot be endured long term, for it will ruin a person. If that much despair can be generated from a 40-hour week job, imagine how despondent and distressed one becomes after being forced to live in a body that feels so wrong, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Life as a transman is still difficult, but if transitioning taught me one thing it's that life will be difficult no matter who you are or the body you're born with. The difficulties I face living life as a transman are no longer seen as problems I'm "stuck" with, but rather obstacles in my way that I can't wait to overcome, because I know I will, each one a new victory. We all have our demons, but we're all more than capable of defeating them.

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