It has often said that our Vice President-Elect, Mike Pence, is in favor of Conversion Therapy, otherwise known as reparative therapy. A report by the New York Times on 30 November said that Pence is under fire from gays and groups for gender rights for being a proponent of the practice. Clearly, people have very strong feelings about this issue, but why? To understand what this is all about, the reader should understand exactly what this sort of therapy entails. What exactly is Conversion Therapy?

Conversion therapy

Conversion, or therapy is the practice of trying to change someone's sexuality from gay or bisexual to straight or trying to change someone's gender identity through psychiatric methods. Both the American Medical Association and the American Psychology Association have condemned its use. It also hasn't been found to work. One study, by Robert Spitzer, did seem to show that people could change their sexuality, however, the study was flawed, focusing on interviews instead of more measurable data.

The scientist in charge now agrees that he was wrong. In more recent, higher quality studies, conversion therapy is found to be useless.

In the earlier days of reparative therapy, electroshock therapy was used with it. While electroshock is an entirely valid treatment for some forms of depression, it's cruel and unusual to use it on someone whose only "problem" is not being a heterosexual.

Reparative therapy is often touted (and run) by religious groups.

Failure to change one's sexuality can be treated as a moral failure. There are side effects to conversion therapy, and they aren't pretty. Depression, suicidality, anxiety are all side effects.

Conversion therapy for minors

The very worst part about this sort of therapy is that it can be visited on those who have no choice. Minors are often sent to reparative therapy camps. There is enough anxiety in being a gay or bisexual teen without being told that who you are is wrong, and being sent to some far away place to change who you are.

If adults wish to place themselves in reparative therapy, that's sad, but it should be legal. But we need to protect minors from this painful and mentally scarring practice.

It's slow, but things are getting better. Vermont, California, New Jersey, Illinois, Oregon and the District of Columbia have banned reparative therapy for minors, several of them within the past few years. The USA should look forward to the day when it becomes illegal in all 50 states.

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