No Conversion Allowed

There’s a growing movement afoot which seeks to legally ban licensed counselors from helping minors overcome same-sex sexual attractions or to reconcile struggles in accepting their own gender. In Virginia, we’ve staved off bills recently that would do just that (2016 -HB 427, SB 262, SB 267). These efforts gained more traction last week when a group of 68 Congressmen (all Democrats) introduced what they’ve titled the “Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act”, which would make it illegal – potentially even criminal – for “any person” to assist a minor in changing their “sexual orientation” or “gender identity.”  Not surprisingly, however, such persons remain free to “provide assistance to an individual undergoing a gender transition” or to “provide acceptance, support, and understanding of a client or facilitate a client's coping, social support, and identity exploration and development.”

So let me get this straight: At the same time the new Left insists that adolescents as young as five years old be unconditionally supported in “changing” their birth gender and in “exploring” the outer reaches of their sexual curiosities, they are actively demanding that those same kids be legally barred from receiving professional counseling to overcome certain sexual thoughts and feelings they may develop along the way, even when those feelings are unwanted or unhealthy?

Talk about a “bait-and-switch.” Or better yet, more like the sociological equivalent of a Chinese finger trap, where one is free to enter but not to leave.

That’s right, kids. You have an absolute right to trust your feelings when they contradict biology, social science, and traditional morality, and we’ve even got an endless supply of adult counselors lined up to affirm you in them. But if you so much as think about changing your mind, then you’re out of luck – since, after all, we care so much about your “health” and “safety.” Oh, and by the way, anyone who tries to help you may be a fraudulent criminal.

So much for “self-determination” of the patient, the cardinal rule of the counselor-patient relationship.

There are, of course, a number of obvious problems with this concept (too many to list here). Chief among them is that most Americans identify as being a part of a major faith group (e.g. Christian, Jewish, Muslim), and the traditional views of at least the top three involve moral guidelines and truth claims about the nature of male and female and human sexual behaviors. This “law” runs roughshod over these long and deeply held views and makes no exemptions for those who hold them. Both those who counsel and those who seek counsel would now be prohibited by law from incorporating their faith when seeking resolution to a crisis of identity.

The second obvious (and frankly so brazenly preposterous as to defy belief) problem is the blatant double-standard which provides that counselors may only affirm a child when they seek to entertain and indulge certain sexual thoughts, feelings, and inclinations, BUT that counselors may never affirm or aid a child when the child (or his parents) seeks to challenge or correct certain sexual thoughts, feelings, and inclinations – especially and particularly those sexual inclinations which diverge from natural human behavior. In other words, only certain feelings will be sanctioned, and only those ones which tend to be profoundly damaging to children. This places faith-based counselors in a true ethical dilemma, while at the same time depriving a child of the guidance they need during the most critical window of time for healthy emotional realignment, with the effect of further solidifying the child’s misguided feelings about themselves and others.

But maybe worst of all, this policy shamelessly declares, in essence: ‘No, you can’t change – not even if you want to. What you feel is the essence of who you are. Accept it, embrace it, and don’t let anyone help you see a better way for your life – especially those people who may actually know what they’re talking about. And by the way, not only are you incapable of – and now prohibited from – changing, but there’s not a thing wrong with you. You’re perfect just the way you are. And since perfect people don’t need fixing, any effort to help you do so is futile and actually harmful to you.’ (Note the very first line of the bill: “Congress makes the following findings: (1) Being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or gender nonconforming is not a disorder, disease, illness, deficiency, or shortcoming.”)

But for people of faith, and particularly Christians, this view goes against everything they believe about the human condition. (i.e. That every person is imperfect and broken; that they are unable to fix themselves on their own; that by the power of God through the message of truth and love, a person can be transformed into someone new; that God will help them overcome temptations and even change their desires; that God’s design for their sexuality is far better for them than any other way, and that all others will lead to disappointment, dissatisfaction and ultimately destruction.) Such an edict, then, is wholly incompatible with the religious freedom of most Americans.   

Ultimately, to tell a person that they cannot change and that there is no one who can help them do so is to tell them that there is no hope.

But in fact, there is hope. People can and have changed. And with the aid of professional counseling, countless many youth have learned to cope with struggles which plagued them, and they’ve gone on to flourish in their lives. And why would it not be so in the area of their sexuality or gender? Even the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association acknowledge, for example, that as many as 98% of gender-confused boys and as many as 88% of gender-confused girls eventually accept their chromosomal sex by adolescence or adulthood if allowed to do so.

The real harm to children in these situations is in preventing them from getting the help they need in their time of conflict. And because that’s precisely what these measures would do, and because we know that there is always hope for people who want to change, we owe it to our children to do everything in our power to ensure these policies' defeat in every place they may be found.