Post submitted by HRC Wisconsin volunteer Zoe Roberts. It originally appeared in Leader-Telegram.
As a local transgender advocate I feel it absolutely necessary to point out some facts I’ve been able to distill regarding the damage conversion therapy is likely doing to specifically the transgender community. I realize that in Eau Claire county this incredibly damaging process is banned. However, at the State level it is not banned and is still doing damage to many people in other areas of the state. I’m going to warn everyone, these numbers are disturbing.
But first we need to define what conversion therapy is. According to the Wikipedia definition conversion 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. There is virtually no reliable evidence that sexual orientation can be changed and medical bodies warn that conversion therapy practices are ineffective and potentially harmful. Medical, scientific, and government organizations in the United States and United Kingdom have expressed concern over the validity, efficacy and ethics of conversion therapy. Various jurisdictions in Asia, Europe, Oceania, and the Americas have passed laws against conversion therapy.” The cold cruel truth of this is that it’s actually torture. They subject people to electro shock, beatings, etc. At this point it is worth noting, that in 2016 many media sources reported that torture doesn’t work. Many people that have worked for the CIA for years have reported it to be counterproductive.
According to Daniel Shumer in an article titled “Health Disparities Facing Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Youth Are Not Inevitable,” which was published in Pediatrics magazine nearly 41% of transgender people attempt suicide. This is compared to 1.6% for the general population. Recently it was reported in a study published in the American Journal of Public Health (AJPH), around 187,923 trans Americans have been exposed to what I will now call conversion torture. The Williams Institute, which is a portion of the UCLA School of Law estimates that the transgender population within the United States is 1.4 million people. When we calculate a simple percentage, that means that 13.42% of the transgender population within the United States has been exposed to conversion torture. Breaking these numbers down further we can learn that out of the transgender population that has been exposed to this harmful procedure that 77,048 people have likely attempted suicide. This number is derived by calculating 41% of the 187,923 people.
Digging deeper we can then learn that the transgender population only accounts for about 3.5% of the LGBTQ community, but out of the approximately 700,000 Americans that have been exposed to conversion torture the transgender population accounts for 26.85% of all people to be exposed. This disparity is likely a contributing factor for the incredibly high percentage of transgender people attempting to kill themselves. A percentage that I believe should be deemed a human health crisis.
It is my belief that conversion therapy (torture as I like to call it) should be banned completely. It is an incredibly damaging and highly controversial topic. It is also my belief that everyone, regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation, race or any other factor, deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. To continue to allow this to occur is a crime against humanity and does not satisfy my belief system. I hope it doesn’t satisfy yours either!
For these reasons and many more I support the current bill to ban conversion therapy in Wisconsin. Bill AB111.