The Point Blog ARCHIVE
All articles found in the archive are more than three years old.
The purpose of this blog is to stimulate thought and discussion about important issues in healthcare. Opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily express the views of CMDA. We encourage you to join the conversation on our website and share your experience, insight and expertise. CMDA has a rigorous and representative process in formulating official positions, which are largely limited to bioethical areas.
Influencing Legislatures Captive to Rainbow Ideology
August 24, 2017
by Andrè Van Mol, MD
Opponents of therapy for minors—and ultimately anyone—wanting to overcome undesired same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria have feverishly worked to enact bans against what is pejoratively labeled “conversion therapy.” Change therapy—be it called reparative therapy, sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) or the more recent nomenclature of SAFE-T (Sexual Attraction Fluidity Exploration in Therapy)—has been in the cross-hairs for years, as I wrote about here, and the false claims against it have registered with the public and legislatures alike. The general media seem more interested in the 10 states that banned it, but 22 states have defeated ban efforts.
Here in California, launch pad of the anti-SOCE legislature, efforts to oppose the LGBT ideological tide have produced some encouraging leads. One of my colleagues in a task force, a psychologist who has testified in Sacramento several times, shared the following:
- The legislature rarely hears view opposing LGBT-progressive bills, and they are surprised to learn such exist. A very liberal legislator repeatedly invited more information once he knew.
- Legislators respect testimony from groups and organizations, not individuals representing themselves. Best to let them know what organizations you represent.
- Legislators are taught to equate change therapy with “torture.” That’s an open door to correct that error, as change therapy is talk therapy, not aversion therapy.
- Christian colleges are being targeted for their behavior codes on sex, LGBT issues and abortion. They neglect to defend themselves, hoping courts will rescue them and fearing to appear unloving. That must change.
- There are sympathizers on the liberal side of the aisle, but they fear breaking ranks. They respond to personal interaction from constituents over time, and must hear from many, as they fear losing their seats from party intervention if they dissent. When they get to know us, it becomes more difficult to believe we are haters or bigots, respect grows and that gains influence.
So, what’s a busy CMDA healthcare professional to do? It’s really not that hard to put together a short, informative and inviting letter to legislators to inform them of our concerns. Here is a basic version of what I have emailed to senators and assembly people in several states. I am including literature citations here that I usually don’t in the letter.
RE: Opposing “Conversion Therapy”
Dear Honorable Legislator:
As a board certified family physician, I strongly encourage you to oppose the bill banning “Conversion Therapy.” The bill is both unnecessary and misguided.
- The bill is needless. Twenty-two states have voted down therapy bans. The legislature already has a process in place to address complaints of harmful practice and clinician malfeasance through the appointed licensed mental health professionals on the state licensing board. If clients had been harmed or treated unethically, the licensing boards would already have known, documented and acted. No such complaints exist.
- There is no evidence of harm from sexual orientation change therapy from licensed and trained professionals.12345 Generations of supportive studies exist.6789 Change therapy is talk therapy, just talk, by trained and licensed professionals working with willing and motivated clients. Anything less is not it. No licensed therapist wants unwilling clients, as therapy for any issue requires a willing patient. Even the Southern Poverty Law Center noted in their May 2016 report that SOCE/change therapists do not use electrical shocks or other aversion therapy. The “torture” stories have not involved trained therapists and generally are unsubstantiated. It is also ironic that no bill has been put forth to actually ban aversion therapy altogether, if that is the problem.
- The American Psychological Association 2014 Handbook of Sexuality and Psychologydocuments that same-sex attraction is neither inborn nor immutable. The APA website notes, “There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay, or lesbian orientation,” and “…no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors.” In 2014 the UK’s Royal College of Psychiatrists revised its position on same-sex attraction to say: “sexual orientation is determined by a combination of biological and postnatal environmental factors” . . . “[it] is not the case that sexual orientation is immutable or might not vary to some extent in a person’s life….”
- Both the APA Handbook10 and numerous peer-reviewed studies acknowledge that childhood sexual abuse can be a cause of same-sex attraction in some.1112 Children who have experienced abuse by teens or pedophiles can go on to experience undesired homosexual thoughts and impulses. Banning professional talk therapy to address wounds and undesired impulses can lead to depression and suicidality.
- Religious counseling and camps, however well intentioned, are not therapy by licensed therapists, and the anti-therapy bill bans professional psychotherapy.13
- Everyone should enjoy the basic right to choose the legal direction of their life, including those with undesired same-sex attractions who wish help with change. Voices-of-change.org provides 100 plus testimonials of people who have changed undesired same-sex attraction with professional therapy.
Andre Van Mol, MD
Give it a try. Being salt and light involves exposure and vulnerability. We marshal respect as physicians, so we have an advantage. Intimidated? All of us are. Leaving it to more capable and confident people? That’s a fairly uniform inclination, and a dodge. Resist it, because the laborers are few. Pressed for time? Ah, you must be a doctor. Doctor, your help is needed.
- Sexual Orientation Change Efforts Do Not Lead to Increased Suicide Attempts (Summary of excerpt from Whitehead, N.) (2010). Homosexuality and Co-Morbidities: Research and Therapeutic Implications. Journal of Human Sexuality, 2, 125-176).
- A.D. Byrd, Joseph Nicolosi, and R.W. Potts (February 2008), “Clients’ Perceptions of How Reorientation Therapy and Self-Help Can Promote Changes in Sexual Orientation,” Psychological Reports 102, pp. 3-28.
- Nicolosi, Joseph, Byrd, D., Potts, R.W. (June, 2002). “A Meta-Analytic Review of Treatment of Homosexuality,” Psychological Reports 90: 1139-1152.
- Nicolosi, J., Byrd, A. Dean, Potts, R.W. (June 2000), “Retrospective Self-Reports of Changes in Homosexual Orientation, A Consumer Survey of Conversion Therapy Clients,” Psychological Reports, 86: 1071-1088.
- Essential Psychopathology and Its Treatment, Third Ed, Maxmen, War, and Kilgus (W.W. Norton & Co.).
- Karten, E. L., & Wade, J. C. (2010). Sexual orientation change efforts in men: A client perspective. Journal of Men’s Studies, 18, 84–102.
- Spitzer RL. “Can some gay men and lesbians change their sexual orientation? 200 participants reporting a change from homosexual to heterosexual orientation. Arch of Sexual Behavior, Vol. 32, No. 5, Oct. 2003, pp. 403-417.
- Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth, Jeffrey Satinover (Baker Books, 1996) pp. 179-195.
- Successful Outcomes of Sexual Orientation Change Efforts, James E. Phelan (Phelan Consultants LLC, 2014).
- APA Handbook on Sexuality and Psychology (American Psychological Association, 2014) Mustanski, Kuper, & Greene, pp. 609-610.
- Tomeo, M.E., Templer, D. I., Anderson, S., & Kotler, D. (2001). Comparative Data of Childhood and Adolescence Molestation in Heterosexual and Homosexual Persons. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 30(5), 535-541.
- Walker, M. D., Hernandez, A. M., & Davey, M. (2012). Childhood Sexual Abuse and Adult Sexual Identity Formation: Intersection of Gender, Race, and Sexual Orientation. Family Therapy, 40(5), 385-398.
- Jones, S. L., &Yarhouse, M.A. (2011). A longitudinal study of attempted religiously mediated sexual orientation change. Journal of Sex and Martial Therapy, 37, 404–427.