Transgender people still troubled by conversion therapy attempts
Transgender people are still being pushed by professional counselors to undergo conversion therapy attempts to change their gender identity.
The study noted that one in seven transgender people in the US has experienced counseling by a psychologist, counselor or religious adviser to undergo this pseudo-scientific therapy.
This method has been debunked and repudiated by medical professional organizations. It also has been banned in a number of US states.
Conversion therapy attempts prevalent until 2015
The researchers used data from the US Transgender Survey conducted by the National Center for Transgender Equality covering 27,716 transgender people in 2015.
The survey noted the lifetime experience of transgender people with conversion therapy, especially in the past five years.
Of those surveyed, 3,749 participants– or 13.5%– had reported an experience during their lifetime, from as low as 9.4% in South Carolina to as high as 25% in Wyoming.
This translates to an estimated 188,000 transgender people exposed to this type of therapy. Moreover, about 5% reported their experience between 2010 and 2015 to conversion therapy attempts.
“We were concerned to discover that gender identity conversion efforts have continued in every US state as recently as the period from 2010-2015,” said Dr. Alex Keuroghlian of the Massachusetts General Hospital and The Fenway Institute in Boston, as well as one of the study’s senior author.
“These results are alarming, as gender identity conversion efforts have significant adverse health consequences,” said Keuroghlian.
Limitations on survey on conversion therapy attempts
Unfortunately, the study is limited as the survey participants were younger than the general US population of transgender adults.
Likewise, the 2015 survey– which had fewer racial minorities and fewer heterosexual participants– does not prove causality.
However, Dr. Jack Turban of Massachusetts General Hospital and McLean Hospital in Boston, the study’s lead author, said: “We hope that these findings will highlight the need to pass gender identity conversion effort bans in every US state.”
““We firmly believe that all gender identity conversion efforts should be illegal for all ages,” Turban said.
The American Medical Association and other medical and mental health organizations have already labeled psychological attempts to change a person’s gender identity as “ineffective and unethical.”
Currently, more than a million people in the US identify as transgender and they face elevated risks of anxiety, depression, and suicide attempts– often due to societal non-acceptance and anti-transgender legislation.
Conversion therapy’s effects on transgender people
In the same study, it was also noted that transgender people exposed to conversion therapy had a greater risk of psychological distress as compared to those who weren’t.
For those who had undergone conversion therapy at any point of their lifetime, they were twice as likely to have attempted suicide.
For those who were subjected to this therapy during childhood, they were four times more likely to have attempted suicide.
“Often people assume that the damaging effects somehow are associated with the religious nature of the effort,” said Keuroghlian.
““It’s a major finding that it’s not the religious component that’s dangerous in our results– it’s any effort to change someone’s gender identity from transgender to cisgender,” he said.
Meanwhile, Turban pointed out that conversion therapy “is a practice that some psychologists still say is an advisable practice for children and is still legal in many states.”