Steph's Place

Banning Conversion Therapy: No, it is not 'Complicated'

by Dr Natacha Kennedy

 Some anti-trans 'Journalists' and members of transphobic hate groups appear to have been suggesting that the issue of banning Conversion Therapy is 'Complicated', yet somehow why it is 'complicated' is never adequately explained. Like a carousel in a velodrome circuitous arguments follow until everyone’s dizzy, unsupported assumptions abound and links more tenuous than the width of a human hair are presented as iron girders set in concrete.

 So let’s look at the issue with a bit more clarity.


 Conversion Therapy is psychological and emotional torture. It uses coercive psychological and emotional pressure to try and force people to be straight or cis. It is still widespread.

 The reason for attempting to make it appear overly complex is because some people can no longer resist the massive pressure to ban its use on gay men, lesbians and bi people but still want trans children to be psychologically tortured to try and make them cis.

 Let’s be clear however that there is a strongly transphobic agenda at play here; to my knowledge there is no widespread use (or indeed use at all) of Conversion Therapy to make people gay, lesbian, bi or trans. It also has no basis in any psychological theory and doesn’t ever make anyone straight or cis.

 Indeed it only produces depressed, traumatised and suicidal victims. And people subjected to Conversion Therapy are most definitely victims not “patients”.

 So let’s unpick the opaque language of those who support Conversion Therapy for trans children. 


 When they make the claim : 'The issue of whether or not to use Conversion Therapy is complicated.', what they are really saying is : 'The issue of whether or not to psychologically and emotionally torture trans children is complicated.'

 The weasel words melt away and their real meaning is revealed.

 The fight against the organised transphobia of the hate groups and the media is largely one of countering baseless propaganda and wilful misrepresentations but it is often about unpicking hidden meanings from deliberately opaque language. The transphobes’ claims about Conversion Therapy are one such example of euphemistic deceit. So let’s respond with absolute clarity.


 Torturing children is wrong.

 In fact;

 Torturing children is evil.

 Or for those who prefer even more precision;

 Emotionally and psychologically torturing children is evil.


 Anyone arguing with these statements is, in effect, advocating child abuse.

 Yet this is what the anti-trans community wants, it wants to be able to advocate torturing and harming children without being called out on it. Anyone, including, Gender-Critical Transphobes, religious extremists, extreme right-wing politicians and transphobic “journalists” who wants to try and complicate the issue with euphemistic weasel words, is doing so for a reason. They are doing so because once clarity is introduced then asserting that the issue of emotionally and psychologically torturing children is somehow 'complicated' is revealed for what it is. 


Let us be clear here, ANY kind of emotional and psychological torture of trans children is not just evil, it is child abuse and people who engage in it should be jailed.

End of.


This torture includes;

  • so-called “Religious Conversion Therapy”, AKA religious emotional and psychological torture.
  • what some Gender-Critical Transphobes as “exploratory” treatment, ie exploratory torture.
  • what transphobes chillingly describe as “feminist therapy”, or feminist torture.


 Whether carried out by people abusing religious titles or psychological qualifications or calling themselves 'Gender-Critical' Transphobes what they are doing is still emotional and psychological torture of children. Even when it is carried out at the behest of parents or by those who believe in the increasingly discredited concept of “ROGD” it is still emotional and psychological torture of children.

 And double-standards abound here; those who advocate against trans kids’ ability to consent to treatments - like those that put puberty on pause to give them time to make a decision about their future - also somehow want this form of psychological and emotional torture to be imposed on trans kids with no consent whatsoever.

 Now some might argue that all this sounds way too emotive, you can bet your socks the gender-critical transphobes will. The idea that emotionally and psychologically torturing children is something that we should sit down and debate dispassionately is, of course, completely ridiculous. It is an issue that is extremely emotional, to suggest otherwise is duplicitous.

 There are many stories about how this emotional and psychological torture has ruined trans children’s lives, but none more vivid than the that of Leelah Alcorn who died by suicide on the 28th of December 2014 after being subjected to religious conversion therapy and who left a well-known suicide note online. It is widely known that there is already a high level of suicide, and suicide ideation amongst young trans people.

 So, on top of that, engaging in any kind of conversion therapy to turn trans kids cis needs to be regarded as wilfully placing their lives in danger. Anyone doing this should be locked up.


 So… what about those who are arguing for Conversion Therapy? Or, again, to put it more clearly – what about those who are arguing in favour of emotionally and psychologically torturing children? How should those advocating keeping it legal to torture children be regarded…?

 Part of the problem is that those advocating the continued use of torture on trans children are in effect cis-supremacists.

 For them trans people are always defective or inferior in some way. Cis-supremacists regard any outcome of treatment of trans kids that is not cisgender, as a failure. So the first thing society needs to do is stop listening to these ideological transphobes and stop regarding trans people as inherently problematic.


 People need to be clear that the problem is not trans people or trans kids, it is organised  transphobia, especially from those who continue to campaign for transphobic laws, treatments, policies and practices like Conversion Therapy.


 Transphobia and cis-supremacy is the problem, not trans people.

 So why are the anti-trans activists, journalists and their far-right friends so concerned to prevent the emotional and psychological torture of trans children from being outlawed?

 The basis of their ideology is that trans people should not be allowed to exist, indeed if you look at the policies they want, they are designed to implement measures that make it impossible to exist as a trans person. Their core belief is that trans people should be “morally mandated out of existence”. That is why they want things like bathroom bans and restrictions on legal changes of gender and to end laws that protect trans people from discrimination. This ideology can only function by basing itself on the fiction that somehow trans people can be made cis, otherwise it becomes nothing more than bullying and oppression. If trans people cannot be “cured” making their lives unliveable becomes nothing more than cruelty and persecution. Conversion Therapy never makes anyone cis (or indeed straight), but to have it banned would undermine their hate-doctrine; a belief system that has become so much like a religion that they are now attempting to have it legally protected in the same way that religions and cults do.


 Ultimately anti-trans ideology is a fiction, a belief in some kind of mystically ordered world where there have only ever been two genders; a kind of return to a fictional Gender-Critical Omelas where trans people are 'persuaded' to be cis through threats, exclusion, stigma, abjection and torture.

 Gender-Critical Transphobia is an inherently violent ideology, as their support for Conversion Therapy demonstrates with great clarity.

 That they are fighting so hard to direct this violence at trans children is obscene and barbaric.


Authored by Dr Natacha Kennedy

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