Trans woman declares her transition ‘a victory over my abusers’ as she describes the horrific reality of traumatising conversion therapy
A trans woman who survived conversion therapy as a teenager has described the horrific reality of forceful attempts to “correct” her gender identity.
Jo Brydon, now 24, went through conversion therapy in the UK – mostly over the internet – between the ages of 11 and 15.
“It was through a religious group based in America,” she told PinkNews. “A lot of the rituals (which seemed almost farcically contrived) were practiced over video calls.”
She decided to speak out after a period of “really struggling” with heated public discussion about conversion therapy, triggered by JK Rowling comparing, wrongly, giving trans youth vital healthcare to a “a new kind of conversion therapy for young gay people”.
Rowling’s claims were unasked for and contradict widely-recognised science. A recent landmark study into trans adolescents and the puberty-blocking medication she referred to concluded that access to blockers is a “life-saving” treatment.
For Jo, the public debate that followed Rowling’s remarks brought back “all the suicidal thoughts, pain, and isolation” of her experience.
“Please stop,” she wrote to the author on Twitter in July.
“The people who were primarily responsible for my abuse saw no difference between me being trans and me being attracted to men. I received the same abuse for both. If they saw me now they would still try to goad me into suicide.”
She added: “You don’t care that professionals working in the field of trauma therapy have celebrated my transition as a victory over my abusers.”
Jo explained to PinkNews that those who inflicted the harmful – and discredited – practice on her wanted her to be a “good Christian man”.
“They used the example of Jesus a lot,” she said, “and talked a lot about Sodom and Gomorrah – which I now understand to be more about not gang raping angels rather than anything about sexuality and gender…”
Jo continued: “They’d generally string together a long list of terms like in 1 Corinthians 6:9 but then adding in more as they saw fit.
“I believe that ‘homosexuals’ and ‘effeminate’ are in a lot of translations. So they wanted me to be ‘like Jesus’ rather than an ‘effeminate, cross dressing, lecherous man whore’.
She said that some of the “rituals” she endured “involved quite conventional types of self-harm”.
“In fact, it was one of the ‘therapists’ who convinced me to buy my first razor blade,” she continued. “I wouldn’t be surprised if the idea was to just push me into suicide so that I wouldn’t sully their ‘success rates’.”
More from PinkNews
On Twitter, Jo said that she speaks “as a survivor of sexual violence” – after Rowling’s own disclosure that she is a survivor, contained in a personal essay explaining her anti-trans views.
She ended with a plea: “JK Rowling: Please stop and listen to survivors. We’re begging you to leave us in peace.”
While Jo survived her ordeal, many do not. LGBT+ youth are more than three times as likely to attempt suicide than their straight counterparts, according to study after study.
And in May this year, a huge study run by the US queer youth suicide-prevention organisation The Trevor Project found that nearly a third of trans and non-binary young people have attempted suicide in the past 12 months.
Suicide is preventable. Readers who are affected by the issues raised in this story are encouraged to contact Samaritans on 116 123 (www.samaritans.org), or Mind on 0300 123 3393 (www.mind.org.uk). Readers in the US are encouraged to contact the National Suicide Prevention Line on 1-800-273-8255.