By John Paul Brammer
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) unveiled her LGBTQ rights agenda on Saturday, which included a plan to ban conversion therapy nationwide. In the Medium post, Gillibrand said she would enact a ban “finally outlawing this despicable, torturous practice in the 32 states that have yet to do so.”
“The LGBTQ community is not a monolith with a finite set of needs, and equal rights and freedom from discrimination should be the bare minimum we accept,” Gillibrand wrote.
Conversion therapy refers to the dangerous and discredited practice of attempting to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of LGBTQ people. At The Trevor Project, the world’s largest organization dedicated to LGBTQ youth in crisis, we know all too well how rejection can negatively impact vulnerable young people.
“Ending the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion therapy is vital to protect LGBTQ youth from the harms of this pseudo-scientific ‘therapy,’ which include dramatically increased risk of suicide attempt. The Trevor Project regularly hears from youth who have been subjected to conversion therapy on our crisis services,” said Casey Pick, Senior Fellow for Advocacy & Government Affairs for The Trevor Project.
“Research from the UCLA Williams Institute found in 2018 that an estimated 20,000 LGBTQ youth ages 13 to 17 will undergo conversion therapy from a licensed health care professional before the age of 18,” Pick continued. “Legislation can reduce that number, saving youth from unnecessary trauma and ultimately saving lives.”
Statements like Gillibrand’s help bring national attention to the crucial issue of conversion therapy, which, as Gillibrand noted, is still a threat to minors in 32 states. Politicians from both sides of the aisle have the opportunity to protect LGBTQ youth and to affirm a future where they can be exactly who they are.