Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Just What We Needed - A Documentary on the "Effectiveness" of Conversion Therapy

“…astrologers, tarot card readers, seance conductors and promoters of conversion therapy don't seem to excel in the workplace.”
While election jitters continue, anti-LGBTQ rhetoric persists. It is worthy of notice.

Wednesday, one Georges Buscemi writes: New documentary explores the promise of ‘conversion therapy’ for homosexuals. Our crackpot du jour subtitles his profoundly informative opus:
Much maligned by some, a variety of therapies, empirically-validated by many decades of research, is revealed to be quite effective when used by competent therapists.
Apparently the “empirically-validated” research consists of interviews by the filmmaker — Michel Lizotte. There is no such thing as a competent conversion therapist. It is a contradiction in terms. Said therapist would be at odds with his or her own professional organization. Competent therapists do not indulge in practices based on pseudoscience.
The simple fact is that we appreciate real research as articles published to reputable academic journals that subject submissions to robust peer review.
The longstanding consensus of the behavioral and social sciences and the health and mental health professions is that homosexuality per se is a normal and positive variation of human sexual orientation.
No research exists to support the contention that conversion therapy is effective. The consensus of science (real science) is that conversion therapy is ineffective and harmful. The first paragraph continues the theme:
Titled “Censored,” a newly released documentary explores the many aspects of what is popularly called “conversion therapy,” which aims to resolve youth traumas that are often at the root of same-sex attraction (SSA). 
No science exists to support the idea that sexual orientation is influenced by youth traumas.

Conversion therapy is promoted by religious conservatives in an attempt to prove that their god did not create LGBTQ people. It is then used to assert that sexual orientation is a choice. As a choice it is not deserving of protection through nondiscrimination laws.

But let us continue this wonderful journey into the world of make-believe:
The documentary’s writer, director and host, Michel Lizotte, is an independent journalist from Quebec. He has been researching therapies and the plight of SSA individuals for nearly 20 years.

In 2008, he published a French-language book entitled, “Homosexuality: myths and facts.” Beginning in 2006, he began collecting much of the footage featured in his newest documentary by regularly attending, video camera in tow, the annual meetings of what was then known as the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality [NARTH], today called the Alliance for Therapeutic Choice and Scientific Integrity.
That is not research. NARTH (now ATCSI) is principally a religious organization. No NARTH “paper” has ever been published to a credible academic journal. ATCSI has only been a federally nonprofit entity for about two months.

The purveyors of toxic bullshit are always victims of [fill in the box]:
In 2011, Lizotte was given the NARTH president’s award for his pioneering work in Canada promoting SSA therapy, often at great personal cost. In a recent interview, the author asserted that he had lost his employment about 20 times in the last 20 years, as a result of his efforts to protect the right of people wanting to overcome their SSA to find a competent therapist and sound scientific facts regarding the therapies.
We do not know what that employment consisted of. However, astrologers, tarot card readers, seance conductors and promoters of conversion therapy don't seem to excel in the workplace. Their problems stem, not from opposition to their beliefs, but the lack of critical thinking and self-discipline necessary to subscribe to those beliefs.
One strand of the documentary follows the testimonials given by John and Christine, two “ex-gays,” who both argue childhood trauma had brought about their conditions, contradicting the widespread belief that SSA people are always and everywhere “born that way.”  
Sexual orientation is expressed over a spectrum. Furthermore, sexual orientation is formed by about two-years-of-age. How would anyone even be aware of trauma between infant and age two? According to the APA, conversion therapy, at best, teaches people how to pretend to be heterosexual.

The piece contends that virtually all of the medical, social science and behavioral health organizations are “homosexual friendly” and that they prevent research from being funded and published.

That is one of the usual excuses for the paucity of research to support conversion therapy. The Catholic Church could certainly fund a massive study.

Hell, the last time Blowhard Bill Donohue decided to comply with the law and file a tax return, the Catholic League was sitting on net assets of over $45 million at the end of 2017. That organization could easily fund an ambitious study.

The real reason for the lack of research is probably that the religious folks know that they will prove what they prefer not to prove. Shortly after conversion, people might claim to be straight. A year or two down the road, they usually revert to their natural sexual orientation.

Yet, they do persist in self-victimization:
The documentary also explores in some detail the methods used by key actors in various psychological organizations such as the American Psychological Association, along with pro-homosexuality allies in government and the media, to conduct smear campaigns against therapies, therapists and researchers, demonizing anyone who would dare say publicly that same-sex attracted people can and do change, with the help of professionally-conducted therapy. 
Again, there are no studies of adequate scientific rigor which support conversion therapy. When people make claims unsupported by science, they are not subject to “smear.” They are subjected to due criticism for making reckless claims having the potential to harm people.

While the crackpots complain of being demonized, they are — in reality — demonizing LGBTQ people. In effect they are claiming that a sexual orientation that they do not approve of due to religious teachings is a character flaw; one that can be corrected.

The crackpots are also demonizing credible scientists because authentic research debunks unscientific, religiously-inspired nonsense. We know better. Medical science knows better.

It is also projection. The crackpots claim that organizations like the APA are biased by their desire to be politically correct. In fact it is the scientific poseurs who are biased. They are attempting to conform science to scripture regardless of the cost in human misery.
Finally, the documentary tracks the legislative efforts by many Western governments, ranging from city-level to national, to ban “conversion” therapies outright.
Harmful practices are banned by responsible government. People need to be protected from kooks. Children, especially, need to be protected from irresponsible parents who would subject them to a procedure with no basis in science.

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