auntysarah: (Default)
The Bringer of Tea ([personal profile] auntysarah) wrote2011-01-17 13:14

Why Ban "Ex-Gay" Therapy But Allow Sex Reassignment?

Yesterday, Roger Helmer, a Conservative MEP
tweeted in response to news that a Christian "Ex-Gay" reparative therapist may be struck off as the result of a press sting operation, to say:
Why is it OK for a surgeon to perform a sex-change operation, but not OK for a psychiatrist to try to "turn" a consenting homosexual?
Now Mr Helmer seems rather unreconstructed - I find that looking at his website and some of the comments on his blog are like staring at the aftermath of a car crash. I can only imagine that he prides himself on "plain speaking and common sense", but one man's "plain speaking and common sense" are this woman's "ill-informed spouting of reactionary nonsense". Anyway, I'm getting somewhat distracted from the point I wanted to make here, which is that his question comparing sex reassignment and reparative therapy is one I did at least think about, rather than dismiss out of hand as tosh and nonsense (I'll leave that response to him).

It seems that Jack of Kent has also put some thought into how to answer this question (not that dismissing it isn't a valid response too - trans people are under no obligation to justify our existence to Mr Helmer), and I would really, really encourage people to read the article there and the comments - there are many thoughtful positions expressed there.

My own view, which I'll reproduce here (with the amusing substitutions from my iPad's autocorrect fixed), is as follows:
Where I think this gets interesting is where the gay person in question genuinely wants "turning", perhaps because they have internalised some sort of anti-homosexual message or pressure. Is it ethical to refuse to allow it to be provided to them, on the basis that it's likely to be very bad for their mental health? We allow people to consume things that are bad for their physical health, after all.

My views on this are twofold - firstly, reparative therapy is "quack medicine", and while I think it would be illiberal to ban the pedalling of quackery, I don't think it should be allowed to masquerade as real medicine. I would also apply this to homeopathy, etc..

Secondly, from the patient's point of view, such "services" should be delivered on the basis of informed consent. The patient should understand that it basically won't genuinely be able to change their sexual desire, but at best give them a set of strategies for repressing it, and perhaps coping with entering into a relationship which they may wish to enter into to fulfil some sort of perceived obligation (e.g. To marry and have children), but which will likely entail little or no sexual attraction.

In other words, the cards should fully be on the table.

I also think, by the way, that gender services would be much more appropriately delivered on an informed consent model than the present "gatekeeper" model, which I think is more or less broken by design.
I'd be interested in anyone else's thoughts on this too.
ext_435399: (Default)

Don't give them an inch

[identity profile] 2011-01-17 16:45 (UTC)(link)
For the time being, we should shut it down. Society is damaged more by homophobia than by frustrating the (probably small number of) people who would have still liked to change for preference or cosmetic reasons in a completely non-homophobic society. If we ever get that society, the restriction can come off.

As an aside: this is why the claim for civil rights on the basis of "immutable characteristics" is a really bad strategy. As tech improves, inevitably they will become mutable.

Re: Don't give them an inch

(Anonymous) 2011-03-07 09:12 (UTC)(link)
That, and everyone agrees that religious belief is a basis for civil rights, and religion can and routinely is changed at will.