Thursday, October 22, 2020

Will They EVER Stop Promoting the Pseudoscience of Conversion Therapy?

David Aucoin
Meet Pastor David Aucoin, purveyor of crackpottery
via Twitter
Thursday, Dave Aucoin of Rhode Island has authored Is Change Possible? It is posted to the blog of Family Policy Alliance, the political wing of Focus on the Family.

I have a certain disdain for rhetorical questions and the logical falacy of begging the question. That said, Mr. Aucoin is referring to conversion therapy to change sexual orientation or gender identity.

The short answer is “no,” change is not really possible. When Dr. Jack Turban was still with Harvard Medical School (now in a Stanford University fellowship) he led a team that determined that attempts to change gender identity are especially toxic, leading to a lifetime of adverse mental health consequences.

The APA studied sexual orientation conversion therapy more than a decade ago. It concluded that the best result that people could hope for was to teach gay people how to pretend to be straight. In conservative Christian circles, claiming to have gone from gay to straight yields attention and approval from others.

Every mainstream professional health association has asserted that conversion therapy is futile and harmful.

Conversion therapy — including pray-away varietals — continues to exist as a pretext for discrimination. If people can really change — if medical science is all wrong — then sexuality is a choice. If sexuality is a choice then LGBTQ people are not deserving of laws protecting them from discrimination.

Choice supports the age-old argument that we want “special rights.” Of course I have never entertained a coherent argument explaining why religion is a protected class when it is inarguably a choice.

Usually, they spout some gibberish about the First Amendment which is preposterous. The right to Free Exercise has never protected religious minorities from discrimination and oppression from the very same people making the argument.

Eventually, after considerable surplus, Aucoin gets to his point:
…many have found hope and healing – and even a new identity – in Christ. If you want to read many heart-warming personal stories about people who have had their identities transformed by the Gospel, take a look at the work of the “Changed Movement.”
LGBTQ people are not ill. They do not need to be healed. Sexual orientations and gender identities that Aucoin disapproves of are not diseases.

The Changed Movement is a project of Bethel Church in Redding California which is no less cultish than Scientology. Bethel has healing rooms to pray away all sorts of maladies. Most of the testimonies seem to be from people claiming that their bad feet have been healed.

Forgive me if I happen to think that Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry translates to “fleece the faithful.” Bethel Church does seem to be very prosperous. Their new campus had a nearly $100 million price tag.

Bethel could certainly afford to sponsor a legitimate study of conversion therapy. They have not. The reason that they have not is probably because they know what it will reveal.
I met one of the founders of the movement, Elizabeth Woning, a few years ago in Washington D.C. She embodies the movement. There is no hate or anger. They have a simple message that, “Changed” is possible! And here is what they say about themselves. “CHANGED is a community of friends who once identified as LGBTQ+. Today, we celebrate the love of Jesus and His freedom in our lives.”
Woning is an employee of Bethel Church. She could easily document the additions and subtractions to her community over time but she has not. My theory is that people who claim to change receive a great deal of positive feedback. Eventually it wears off.

Again, no scientific investigation has ever concluded that conversion therapy is safe and effective. Pray-away is even less pragmatic. Furthermore, sexual orientation and gender identity are intersecting continua. Bethel's BS requires one to view sexuality in stark absolutes.

Some required sophistry:
And, “We are a growing community of men and women who have explored the depths of our identities and found freedom. We have confronted the pain, rejection, and despair that often accompany the homosexual experience; and so, our approach is sensitive, compassionate, genuine.”
“Freedom?” LGBTQ people are not captives. If LGBTQ people experience “pain, rejection and despair” is is at the hands of judgmental, self-righteous fools. And no, those feelings do not “often accompany” being gay.

But let's go back to freedom. The real dynamic is that people who experience adversity because of their sexuality are captives. They are enslaved by an irrational obedience to religious dogma. Claiming to be straight or cisgender garners approval and eliminates shaming. So, yes, they experience freedom.
Freedom from disapproval is not the same thing as fictional freedom from not being an LGBTQ person. People who claim to change are just as gay or just as gender incongruent as they were before Bethel Church got its hooks into their psyches.
It's actually worse than that. People who commit to these programs believe that they work. When they confront their real sexuality in the not-too-distant future they feel as if they are responsible. They failed. No one ever says I did not change which means that Jesus failed.

People do not change because our sexuality is at the core of who we are. Bethel's god seems to relish diversity. Nature certainly abhors uniformity.

Here is the warm-up:
Some are told that, even if they don’t want the feelings they experience, they have no other choice.
People are told that there is no form of conversion therapy that is proven safe and effective. The healthiest thing that people can do is to accept themselves for who they are. If some people disapprove of LGBTQ persons then that is their problem due to willful ignorance. It is they who are enslaved to ancient chronicles of dubious provenance.

Which leads to this:
In fact, and very sadly, that’s the law in Rhode Island. Youth are not legally free to make that choice themselves. In 2017, the Rhode Island House passed its “conversion therapy ban.” Bill 5277 prohibits a licensed health care professional from helping a minor, under 18 years of age, experience the freedom and joy that Ken and Elizabeth found. This law only allows licensed professionals to affirm the decision towards attraction to the same sex, even if those feelings are unwanted.
Adolescents do not make those choices. They submit to this pseudoscience because of parental pressure and parental disapproval. The process is harmful. It is particularly harmful to children who are essentially taught to hate themselves; to be intolerant of who they really are.

If “those feelings are unwanted” it is because of judgmental parents or preachers. Conversion therapy bans prevent parents from damaging their children. People like Elizabeth Woning are free to fuck up kids because they are not licensed professionals.

Woning has neither the training nor experience to counsel anyone. She teaches children to lie to the their parents in order to get the approval that children require.

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