Conversion therapy, also known as reparative therapy or sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE), is a discredited and harmful practice that attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Conversion therapy has a long and complex history that spans over a century, with its origins rooted in homophobic and transphobic beliefs. In this article, we will examine the history of conversion therapy and its effects on LGBTQIA individuals.
I. The Roots of Conversion Therapy
The roots of conversion therapy can be traced back to the late 19th century when homosexuality was first identified as a medical condition. At the time, homosexuality was considered a mental illness, and doctors sought to find a cure for it. This led to the development of various therapies, including electroshock therapy, chemical castration, and lobotomies.
In the 1950s and 1960s, psychoanalysis became popular, and some therapists began using it to treat homosexuality. These therapies were based on the idea that homosexuality was caused by a person’s upbringing or early experiences and could be cured through therapy.
II. The Rise of Conversion Therapy
The 1970s saw the rise of the gay rights movement, which challenged the idea that homosexuality was a mental illness. However, some conservative groups continued to promote the idea that homosexuality was a disorder that could be cured. In the 1980s, with the emergence of the AIDS epidemic, some religious groups began to promote conversion therapy as a way to prevent the spread of the disease.
In the 1990s, a group of conservative therapists formed the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) to promote conversion therapy. NARTH claimed that homosexuality was a disorder that could be cured through therapy and that conversion therapy was a legitimate form of treatment.
III. The Failure of Conversion Therapy
Despite the claims of conversion therapy advocates, there is no evidence that conversion therapy is effective. In fact, most major medical and mental health organizations have come out against conversion therapy, including the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, and the World Health Organization.
Moreover, conversion therapy has been shown to have harmful effects on LGBTQIA individuals. Studies have shown that conversion therapy can lead to depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation. It can also damage relationships with family and friends, leading to feelings of isolation and rejection.
IV. The Fight Against Conversion Therapy
In recent years, there has been a growing movement to ban conversion therapy. Currently, 20 states and the District of Columbia have banned conversion therapy for minors. Several other states have introduced bills to ban conversion therapy, and the Biden administration has expressed support for a federal ban on conversion therapy.
Advocates for LGBTQIA rights argue that conversion therapy is a form of discrimination that should be banned. They argue that LGBTQIA individuals have the right to live their lives free from the stigma and discrimination that conversion therapy promotes.
In conclusion, the history of conversion therapy is a sad and disturbing one. It is rooted in homophobia and transphobia and has been shown to be ineffective and harmful. While some continue to promote conversion therapy, the evidence is clear that it should be banned. LGBTQIA individuals have the right to live their lives free from discrimination and stigma, and conversion therapy has no place in a modern and just society.