Conversion therapy, sometimes referred to as “reparative therapy,” is considered a pseudoscience by many. The ultimate goal of it is to change a person’s sexual orientation (almost exclusively from homosexual to heterosexual) or gender identity (again, almost exclusively from transgender to cisgender).

California’s Attempt to Ban Conversion Therapy

Over the years, many have argued for and against the practice. While some claim it’s a form of therapy that helps people who don’t want to be homosexual or transgender, the medical community’s consensus is that it’s an ineffective and actually harmful practice.

California recently became the latest state attempting to protect people (particularly young people) from conversion therapy by proposing a bill that would ban the sale or advertising of sexual orientation change therapy.

Despite a protest of the bill by roughly 350 people, the bill passed. This means it’s one step closer to being considered by the entire state Senate.

Currently, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia have all passed measures of some sorts to protect minors from being forcibly subjected to conversion therapy by state-licensed mental health providers.

The Effects of Conversion Therapy

Most in the medical and scientific community have condemned conversion therapy, claiming it doesn’t work and is not backed by scientific evidence. Furthermore, they say it can do much more harm than good. Studies show that young people who are exposed to conversion therapy are more likely to become depressed, anxious, or use drugs.

However, there are some who claim conversion therapy actually saved them from a life they didn’t wish to lead.

“I did not want to be gay,” said Jim Doman, a pastor who claimed conversion therapy helped him to marry his wife and have children. At the protest rally, he asked that the state not “take away professional help programs that have helped people like me.”  

Ultimately, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry has found that conversion therapy lacks scientific credibility and clinical utility. Because of this, and the harmful effects it has been known to have on children, they suggest conversion therapy not “be part of any behavioral health treatment of children and adolescents."