Exposing trans people to conversion therapy ‘doubles the odds of a suicide attempt’
Transgender ‘conversion therapy’ has been proven to cause serious psychological harm to those who undergo it, according to the medical journal JAMA Psychiatry.
A study published on Wednesday, September 11, shows that efforts to change a transgender person’s gender identity are strongly associated with suicidal attempts and ideation.
It is believed to be the first study to show a definitive link between gender identity conversion efforts and adverse mental health outcomes.
The research was conducted by Dr Jack Turban, a resident physician in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, with help from Dr Alex Keuroghlian, director of the National LGBT Health Education Center.
Their work is unique due to its broad sample size – more than 27,0000 transgender respondents were surveyed – and its focus on gender identity, rather than sexual orientation.
71 percent of the respondents recalled speaking to a religious adviser or secular therapist about their gender identity. Of those, roughly 20 percent said these interactions involved efforts to change their gender identity from transgender to cisgender. 41 percent of respondents had attempted suicide.
“What this new study shows is that transgender people who are exposed to conversion efforts anytime in their lives have more than double the odds of attempting suicide compared with those who have never experienced efforts by professionals to convert their gender identity,” Keuroghlian told NBC News.
Alarmingly, those who reported exposure to ‘conversion therapy’ during childhood faced an even higher risk of psychological distress.
The findings show that transgender people subjected to the discredited practice before the age of 10 were four times more likely to report lifetime suicide attempts than the general transgender population.
“This is important because some experts continue to advocate for gender identity conversion efforts for young children,” Turban said in a statement. “We hope our findings contribute to ongoing legislative efforts to ban gender identity conversion efforts.”
Conversion therapy has no scientific basis
Medical experts consider interventions to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity to be pseudo-scientific, ineffective and harmful.
There are many different techniques – some of the more dangerous ones involve electric shocks and testosterone injections – but virtually no reliable scientific evidence that sexuality can be changed.
The founder of one of the world’s largest conversion ministries recently admitted he was “wrong” to promote the “misleading idea” of conversion therapy, after revealing he is actually gay himself.
51-year-old McKrae Game came out as gay in a Facebook post on 25 August which began: “Please forgive me.”