A bill introduced to Congress on April 25 would outlaw gay conversion therapy across the U.S., taking a step forward for LGBT rights by putting an end to a reprehensible practice that has been both ineffective and traumatic to LGBT people. Gay conversion therapy has been illegal in California since 2012.
The Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act of 2017, introduced by Rep. Ted Lieu, D-California, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, and Sen. Cory Booker, D-New Jersey, would allow the Federal Trade Commission to classify conversion therapy as consumer fraud. Conversion therapy is a practice that tries to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
Homosexuality was classified as a mental illness in the first edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 1952, and removed in 1973 from the second edition.
The fifth edition of the Manual, published 2013, eliminated the diagnosis of “gender identity disorder,” which stressed the discrepancy between one’s birth sex and gender identity, and replaced it with “gender dysphoria,” which stressed the distress associated with the mismatch between assigned birth sex and personal gender identity. Some transgender advocates said the distress is a result of cultural stigma rather than pathology. Besides California, Oregon, New Mexico, Illinois, Vermont, New Jersey and Washington, D.C., also outlaw conversion therapy for minors.
Those in other states, however, can still be forced to undergo this archaic and detrimental therapy at the whims of homophobic parents.
Supported by right-wing religious groups, and Vice President Mike Pence, conversion therapy can result in anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts, according to “Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation” by the American Psychological Association.
Supporters of the Congressional bill have taken a leap forward for LGBT rights by trying to ensure that LGBT minors – and adults – have some protection against conversion therapy.