Considering the right’s full-throttled assault on the social good these days, it’s heartening to chalk up a point for human rights. The country was able to do just that yesterday with positive news from the Supreme Court.
Since California’s trail-blazing law, Oregon, New Jersey, Illinois, New Mexico, and Vermont have since enacted similiar laws, along with a host of smaller municipalities across the country including Washington, D.C. The controversial practice – which supposedly changes an individual’s gender identity – has been debunked by professional psychiatrists as an inhumane process predicated on antiquated, bigoted notions of homosexuality.
Also known as “reparative therapy,” gay conversion therapy relies on the notion that an individual’s sexuality and gender identity can be sublimated through a range of practices that ultimately amount to psychological (and sometimes physical) torture. As Garrard Conley – who in his youth was a victim of conversion therapy – recounts in Time, the longterm effects on an individual’s psyche can be devastating:
In the decade that followed my time in conversion therapy, I lost grip on reality. I ended friendships and relationships without a second thought, entertained suicidal thoughts because I considered myself unlovable…And though there are still days, over a decade later—when I can’t get out of bed because of the self-loathing it taught me—I have been one of the lucky ones.
The appeal rejected by the Supreme Court argued that the ban infringes on religious beliefs, though in reality it protects individuals from ineffective and misguided practices that are exercised under the auspices of authentic psychiatry and science. As proponents of the ban have argued, it doesn’t limit what individuals can say – thus in no way limiting freedom of religious expression – but rather curtails what licensed psychiatrists are permitted to do in professional settings.