It still remains truly shocking that barbaric practices like conversion therapy are still a thing we have to worry about. To date, there are only six cities in Ohio that have banned conversion therapy, and this has only been since 2014. And to make that number slightly more scary, only 16 states in the United States have banned conversion therapy. For a treatment that is less effective than wearing a condom to prevent unwanted pregnancies, why have so few states or cities in Ohio banned them?
Conversion therapy also called ‘reparative therapy’ “is the pseudoscientific practice of trying to change an individual’s sexual orientation from homosexual or bisexual to heterosexual using psychological or spiritual interventions.” According to a definition for WikiLeaks. So, just what are some of these types of therapies. In the earlier days, some of the more extreme conversion therapies to treat homosexuality was chemical castration. Take the case of Alan Turing, who when arrested for having sex with other men, the British government at the time sentenced him to chemical castration. Essentially, it is the taking of drugs to reduce sex drive, sexual fantasies, and the capacity for sexual arousal, in and of itself has no effect on sexual attraction. In the case of Turing, the castration only fed his depression and he ended up taking his own life. When a person is subjected to this process, thinking that it will cure them and in fact it does not change desire, it can be very tumultuous for them to endure and does often lead to deep depression.
Another popular method for trying to cure homosexuality, and one that was popular with the Mormons, is electroshock therapy. The range of electroshock devices were huge. One was simply a slide projector that had modified slides that allowed a shock to be sent to the recipient as a means of aversion process. As the slide showing arousal material would move into frame, the shock would be delivered to condition you not to respond. Slides that were considered normal did not have this shock effect. The more extreme version, used in Mormon settings, was connecting electrodes to the male’s genitals and in some cases other parts of the body. As the stimulus scenes came into view, the same shock was given. Doctors administering the tests always used the escape of saying that the patients had a “slide change” button that allowed them to bypass or avoid a shock my rejecting the cue scene. Whether this is true or not can only be left up to the person receiving the treatment to verify. There are a few places that still use aversion conditioning, most have opted to go for behavioral, psychoanalytic and other practices.
Our current Vice President, Mike Pence is a staunch support of conversion therapy. Marc Lotter, a spokesman for the Vice President, said he was misinterpreted and never made any statement in support. However, look at his record for anti-LGBTQ rights, while governor of Indiana he signed into legislation a bill that would allow any business to cite religious freedom as a means of refusing service to LGBTQ people. He also voted against employment non-discrimination against LGBTQ people. He has even publicly argued for federal funding of conversion therapy and the reassignment of federal dollars for HIV/AIDS research if they were to go to any group that celebrated or encouraged behaviors that lead to the spread of HIV/AIDS.
It took the death of one trans teenage for an Ohio community to start looking at conversion therapy as more destructive than it was beneficial. Leelah Alcorn was forced onto Prozac and to attend conversion therapy churches to cure her of her transgender identity. This ultimately led to her death and for President Obama to stand up against conversion therapy. She left this earth with one simple plea, “fix society.” It has taken four years, but steps are being made in her home state of Ohio to fix society. When Ward 4 Councilman Dan O’Malley was asked if there were conversion therapist operating in Cuyahoga County, his response was “the ordinance we have passed is intended to send a message to the practitioners that they are not welcome here.”
“The only way I will rest in peace is if one day transgender people aren’t treated the way I was, they’re treated like humans, with valid feelings and human rights.” said Leelah Alcorn “…My death needs to mean something.” This Wednesday, Kent 4 Equality will be sponsoring and ordinance before the Kent City Council the protect Kent’s LGBTQ youth from harmful and discredited practice of conversion therapy. They are asking for our support and that anyone who shows up to support this ordinance to wear something rainbow for support of the LGBTQ community and to show presence to the council. They will meet Wednesday July 17th, 2019 at 7:30pm at 320 S Depeyster St Kent, OH44240-7912
There is no cure for LGBTQ people, no conversion camp can fix you because you are not broken. In most cases, conversion therapy does far more damage than it does in helping an individual. Minors, unfortunately, suffer far more in these cases. They are kicked out by the family and friends, forced to endure torture that constantly tells them they are wrong and if they start to buy into it, suffer deep depression because they realize they still have the same desires. Just remember that you are perfect the way you are. If you are a minor and are going through a situation in which you need help, please reach out for support. There are plenty of placed to turn to talk, contact www.TheTrevorProject.org. They have staff who understand and are sympathetic to what you are going through. Fellow Cleveland LGBTQ people, if you need help you can reach out to the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland for assistance. Also, check out my resource page, there are sources you can turn to. If you need help, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org. You have support, please reach out for assistance.