Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Even for Perkins his argument in support of conversion "therapy" is stunningly stupid

“Even when it comes to children, Tony Perkins demonstrates that he is a shameless, greedy bigot.”
Tony Perkins
Hate group leader Tony Perkins likes conversion “therapy.” Perkins' promotion of the discredited practice is not premised on the notion that it really helps anyone. Perkins promotes the snake oil because it justifies discrimination. Conversion therapy seeks to prove that sexual orientation and gender identity are not immutable. Logically, that depends upon proof that conversion therapy actually works. That proof is nonexistent.

Protecting kids has been nonpartisan.

Tony Perkins is thrilled that Maine Governor LePage was the first governor in the nation to veto an LGBT youth conversion therapy ban. A number of Republican governors have signed conversion therapy bans into law. These include: former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, Nevada Gov. Bruce Rauner, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu.

Perkins' stated reasoning is spectacularly stupid. Monday evening Perkins wrote:
Imagine being stuck in a cycle of depression or an unhealthy relationship and not being able to get help. Well, people in 13 states don't have to imagine it. Thanks to a string of bad laws, something as simple as sitting down and talking to a counselor of your choice about your struggles with sexuality isn't allowed. And if the far-Left had its way, Maine would have been the latest to join the club. Fortunately, Governor Paul LePage (R) had other plans.
Perkins is comparing disparate things. According to medical science depression can be addressed with a combination of medications and talk therapy. If someone feels stuck in a harmful relationship, a talk therapist might help that individual identify his or her objective (eg end, repair or diminish the negative effects of the relationship). The therapist helps the patient identify behaviors that help meet those objectives.

Being LGBT is not an illness like depression. Being LGBT is not unhealthy like a damaging relationship. Being LGBT is something that Tony Perkins does not approve of. His disapproval is based in part on his interpretation of ancient chronicles. He also knows that “fighting” LGBT equality makes Family Research Council's cash registers ka-CHING. Perkins is profoundly greedy.

While therapists can address depression or ego-strengths in conformity with their training and the best available science, there is no peer-reviewed science supporting conversion therapy. 11 years ago, the APA “concluded that efforts to change sexual orientation are unlikely to be successful and involve some risk of harm.”

The APA went further to describe the practice as something which might, at best, enable people to pretend to be heterosexual. “Helping” people act out a charade to garner religious approval seems to be the very essence of something that is unhealthy and contrary to “best practices.”

With respect to gender dysphoria, there is no intervention known to medical science to cure or diminish the condition. Anything that Perkins might propose is outside of the consensus of medical science.

Add to that the fact that the ban passed by Maine's legislature prohibited the use of conversion therapy on anyone below 18 years of age. That adds a number of other factors that neither LePage nor Perkins are sensitive to.

Conversion therapy is harmful to children:
  1. Damage done to gay youth (particularly with no offsetting benefit) can affect a child throughout adulthood. 
  2. Sexual orientation change efforts are potentially toxic. I would argue that, when it comes to kids, the process is toxic. Period.
  3. With respect to gender, the overwhelming consensus of medical science is that gender affirmation literally saves lives. According to the best available research, allowing kids to transition reduces anxiety and depression to normal or near-normal levels. Prohibiting that by substituting religious-oriented, pseudo-scientific counseling is downright dangerous.
  4. A professional, qualified clinician might recommend puberty blockers as a way for the child to safely explore their sexuality. Delaying puberty blockers because of pseudo-scientific religious counseling could have severe consequences. Imagine, for example, the needless trauma of a trans boy developing unwanted breast tissue.
  5. If kids are “struggling” with their sexuality (as religious conservatives often claim), they are really struggling with the disapproval of parents. Rather than subjecting the child to something that does not work and is potentially toxic, what he or she really needs is help coping with the disapproval. That is a something that most of us acquire in adulthood. In reality it is the parents who need counseling.
  6. LGBT kids are particularly vulnerable. They might need authentic, scientifically accepted counseling. Conversion therapy is a substitute that denies children the real help that they need. Much like Perkins' unhealthy relationship example, LGBT kids might need to develop ego-strengths in order to identify objectives and to be comfortable being who they are.
  7. Children cannot provide informed consent. Conversion therapy denies kids an opportunity to determine what is in their own best interests. Conversion therapy denies kids an opportunity to consider the consensus of medical science.
  8. Conversion therapy give parents unrealistic expectations that they will be unable to cope with in the future. Their children will be the recipients of further disapproval and shame. Parents and LGBT kids will both be miserable. That unhappiness can have life-long consequences for the entire family.
  9. Once parents accept conversion therapy for their children they are deliberately substituting their belief system (based on faith) for science (based on evidence). Enabling this harmful stupidity is unconscionable.
Being LGBT is not unhealthy. Discrimination is unhealthy. The pseudoscience of conversion therapy is unhealthy. Even when it comes to children, Tony Perkins demonstrates that he is a shameless, greedy bigot. His organization is deemed a hate group for good cause and Perkins provides more evidence in support of the rational of Southern Poverty Law Center.

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