By Tori Tucker
The Gay Agenda
Conversion therapy is not talked about much unless it’s in regards to season two of American Horror Story, but this real-life horror persists today in the United States. It’s not a topic that I heard talked about much until President Trump named Mike Pence his running mate, as Pence endorsed this kind of discredited psychotherapy in the past.
Last week on February 24th, the New Hampshire Senate passed Senate Bill 224, which is a bill to ban conversion therapy on minors in the state and has been in talks since May of last year. This is a huge step to protect LGBTQ youth in the Granite State as it will keep children and teens under the age of 18 from being subjected to the harmful practices associated with conversion therapy. From here the bill will move to the House where it will be debated and voted on again.
This is a major win for LGBTQ youth since they are the age bracket most targeted for conversion therapy practices. They are the ones who may live with pressure from potentially toxic family members to undergo these kinds of outdated practices as well.
For those of you that don’t know, conversion therapy is psychological treatment or spiritual counseling designed to change a person’s sexual or gender orientation from homosexual or bisexual, or transgender to cisgender and heterosexual. Gay conversion therapy was first developed in the 1800s when many behaviors not considered proper in society became classified in medicinal practices, and conversion therapy developed further in the 1920s, but has not changed much since then.
Prior to 1981 techniques used in conversion therapy included chemical castration with hormonal treatment, and ice-pick lobotomies. Aversive treatments were also used such as application of electric shock to the hands and genitals, nausea-inducing drugs used with the presentation of homoerotic stimuli and masturbatory reconditioning.
Since the 1990s, treatments turned to more clinical techniques and were limited to counseling, psychoanalytic therapy, and spiritual-based interventions such as group pressure and prayer, although there were some reports in the U.S. of unlicensed aversive treatments into the late 1990s.
This bill passing the New Hampshire Senate is a huge step in the right direction of protecting New Hampshire’s LGBTQ population, specifically our youth, but many believe that this is not enough. Gay conversion therapy is such a despicable not to mention highly discredited practice that many believe that this practice should be outlawed all together and the next step that New Hampshire needs to take is one that protects all LGBTQ individuals against this practice; not just minors.
Tori Tucker and Emma Simpson are Keene State College students who work on the column The Gay Agenda together. It is posted every Sunday at InDepthNH.org
Tori Tucker was born and raised in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. She is a student, author, and activist, and is currently in her senior year at Keene State College where she is finishing her English-Writing BA. In addition to being a writing student Tori also is pursuing minors in music and German.
Emma Simpson is a Women’s and Gender Studies major currently in her junior year at Keene State College. She is the vice president of her campus a cappella group and involved with Planned Parenthood as a volunteer.