My colleagues are absolutely gutted to learn that Boris Johnson appears to flip-flop around on the Governments plans for banning ‘conversion therapy.’
Last night, ITN News broke an exclusive to say it was going to be shelved. After a great deal of lobbying, it appears Boris has decided to just ban LGB Conversion Therapy. This leaves two groups at risk: Asexuals (who according to the Government’s own research) are the largest adult group to be targetted for ‘Conversion Therapy’ and Trans and gender-diverse young people. Asexuality is a sexual orientation but is not covered as a protected characteristic and so asexuals are extremely vulnerable in this debate. They’re often called the invisible orientation and in our allistic and sexualised world, they certainly seem to be forgotten by many.
Trans and gender-diverse young people are especially vulnerable to trauma and self-harm. Working in this area is complex and needs really careful training and supervision. This group have the highest incidences of self-harm and suicidality and yet increasingly research has shown that simply using the young person’s preferred pronoun and name as a demonstration of respect and validation causes major improvements in their mental health. It costs us all nothing to do this and makes for a huge impact.
There has been no evidence that change efforts/aka gender identity torture therapy has any therapeutic benefit and plenty of evidence of harm done. These children and young people need our protection, validation and support. In the same way that not every person who comes out as same-sex attracted remain’s that way, or every person who marries their childhood sweetheart and has a family remains in love forever, some of these children may decide later that they want to continue in the gender assigned at birth. If they are fortunate enough to be able to access hormone blockers to but time until they’re older and they experience love and support from their families and friends, affirming them during their childhood or adolescence as they choose, no irreversible harm will be done.
The government’s exclusion of trans people could also mean that every little sissy boy who prefers playing with dolls or tomboy girl who loves football is likely to be a target for therapy irrespective of any distress on their part. It could leave clinicians terrified of working with anyone presenting with gender non-conforming behaviour. The evidence for improved and thorough training is self-evident.
We must all stand together to ensure that no one is left behind, an exclusion of one group has implications for all other groups as both sexual orientation and gender identity have some fluidity for some people and people need and deserve to be affirmed as who they feel they are, without outside influence and pressure.
Please do email your MP and let them know to put pressure on Boris for the inclusion and protection of Asexuals and Trans and Non-binary folk.