When medical and psychological professional associations issue a finding or pass a resolution, it naturally commands respect and attention. That’s why the country notices when the American Medical Association (AMA), for instance, recommends health screenings and quitting smoking.
Therefore, when the AMA and other nationally respected health associations collectively put their names on a major document, it sends a powerful message to every member of these groups, their patients, and society as a whole.
This is why we were proud to announce that 28 national organizations signed the U.S. Joint Statement (USJS) Against Conversion Efforts. Conversion efforts refer to a variety of practices that target LGBTQ+ people — often youth — and seek to change their sexual orientation or gender identity. Conversion therapy is also known as reparative or reorientation therapy, ex-gay therapy, sexual orientation change efforts, or gender identity change efforts. Additional signers to the statement include the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and many others.
Studies provide evidence that LGBTQ+ conversion efforts are a form of stigma or discrimination. Numerous studies have established that conversion efforts put individuals at significant risk of harm. Beyond the psychological and physical benefits of ending conversion therapy, putting a stop to this practice can also save healthcare dollars. Research in JAMA Pediatrics found that activity to change people’s sexual orientation and gender identities cost the country an estimated $9.2 billion each year.
The troubling dilemma is that there are still members of these associations and in these professions practicing conversion efforts. A UCLA Williams Institute report estimates that approximately 16,000 LGBTQ+ minors in states without protections will be subjected to conversion therapy by a licensed healthcare professional before the age of 18. Adults are also victims of the harmful impacts of conversion efforts.
Professionals need to be aware that their associations have taken a strong stand against conversion practices, and they need to seek training and education that supports LGBTQ+ individuals.
Treatment interventions should focus on creating a healthy, affirming, productive therapeutic environment that acknowledges the variety of sexual orientations and gender identities or expressions. Healthcare providers can support the processes of positive identity development for patients to explore potential social or physical identity changes and their relationship to gender, sex, and sexual orientation.
We started this initiative when we learned of the tragic suicide of a transgender teen girl, Leelah Alcorn, who chose to make her actions public by posting her suicide note on social media. We believe Leelah was not given the therapeutic and family support to transition to being a female. She was subjected to conversion therapy in an attempt to heal her from her transgender identity, and in her final words she called for change: “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.”
The USJS conclusively shows that the American medical and psychological communities firmly reject so-called “conversion therapy.” Yet conservative legal strategists are making arguments that conversion efforts are somehow protected “free speech.” Much like how other practices have been clearly deemed dangerous or harmful, research has indicated that conversion efforts are ineffective and can leave lasting marks on the person receiving them. We support the emergence of authentic self-acceptance and identity development in sexual and gender minorities.
Legislative efforts to ban conversion efforts continue to gain support. Members of Congress have reintroduced the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act, which would place a federal ban on this hateful practice. But legislative and legal challenges are currently presenting very significant risks of setback. In the months and years ahead, continuous support from healthcare associations will be needed to eliminate these challenges.
By our count, the signatories to this statement represent more than 1.3 million healthcare providers. This is the first time that so many U.S. medical and mental health associations have agreed to jointly protect the health of LGBTQ+ Americans and to call for an end to practices that are unscientific, ineffective, and that put individuals at significant risk of harm.
The statement updates some of the signatory associations’ existing anti-conversion statements by adding a shared framework for more action, including:
- Inform the public about the research on and the risks of conversion efforts;
- Help healthcare professionals become aware of the ethical issues surrounding conversion efforts;
- Offer affirmative healthcare training for all professionals relative to sexual orientation and gender identity; and
- Provide greater ethical support to clients in distress over their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
Association leaders and board members have taken an important step in recommitting to the core ethical principles of the health professions, the principle to “Do no harm.” It’s now time for all their members to join them in this effort.
We must all work to prevent more needless death; we can no longer turn a blind eye to our colleagues who perpetuate this harm.
Guy Albert, PhD, is a licensed psychologist and certified Jungian analyst in private practice in Berkeley, California. He is a teaching faculty member at the C.G. Jung Institute of San Francisco. Jim Walker, MA, MFT, is a gay man and a retired marriage and family therapist living in California. They are co-founders and co-directors of the United States Joint Statement Against Conversion Efforts.
Source link : https://www.medpagetoday.com/opinion/second-opinions/107765
Publish date : 2023-12-09 12:00:00
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