On ‘conversion therapy’

Merched Cymru are co-signatories to a letter sent recently to Kemi Badenoch, Minister for Equalities, supporting her thoughtful approach to the complex issues around conversion therapy.

Like the vast majority of people in the UK, we regard it as abhorrent for people to be subjected to ‘conversion therapy’ that seeks to change their sexual orientation. We are deeply concerned, however, that the current push for a ban is being used to promote an affirmation-only approach to gender identity, particularly in relation to children and young people.

We agree with the expert view of Transgender Trend who argue that:

The addition of ‘gender identity’ to any policy on ‘gay conversion therapy’ leaves therapists with no option but to agree with a patient that they are really the opposite sex, foreclosing any possibility of exploration of feelings and meanings, or underlying issues/mental health problems that may have lead to a cross-sex identity, for fear of being accused of ‘conversion therapy.’ This puts children and young people particularly at risk of progressing to a medical transition with lifetime consequences they may later regret.

The Society for Evidence-based Gender Medicine (SEGM) (www.segm.org) concur, pointing to the frequency of co-morbidities, mental health conditions, autism or childhood traumas in children and young people who present with gender dysphoria. They also point to ‘a high rate of natural resolution, with 61%-98% of children reidentifying with their biological sex during puberty’ provided they are not put on puberty blockers. This is the concern. As SEGM argue: ‘the ‘gender affirmative’ model ‘commits young people to lifelong medical treatment with minimal attention to the etiology of their conditions, and the psychosocial factors contributing to gender dysphoria.’

Children and young people need and deserve supportive, compassionate, and evidence-based care. By including the nebulous concept of gender identity alongside sexual orientation, this legislation could put that at risk.

Read this statement from Transgender Trend for more information.