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'Gender Affirmation' is the new anti-gay conversion 'therapy'

Updated: May 20, 2022

The Tasmanian Law Reform Institute has released its "Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Conversion Practices" final report. LGB Defence sees an issue with the report’s first recommendation that "Tasmanian law should be reformed to address harms from Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Conversion Practices".

We do so because the vehicle for inserting ‘mandatory gender affirmation' into law in Australia is a ban against “suppressing or changing ‘gender identity’”. The influential LGBQTIA lobby group Equality Australia has persuaded politicians that exploration of issues related to gender identity entails the same harmful practices as past conversion practices used to change sexual orientation. In fact, the contrary is true: any so-called conversion therapy ban that includes mandatory affirmation of 'gender identity' is harmful to gender non-conforming, LGB and other vulnerable young people including those affected by Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria, autism or mental health co-morbidities.

In other words, there are different outcomes from a ban based on ‘sexual orientation’ to one based on ‘gender identity’

Conversion therapy ban based on sexual orientation - good.

The conversion therapy practices of old focused on changing sexual orientation— attempting to ‘cure’ LGB people of their homosexual attraction and turn them into heterosexuals. Psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, and pastoral counselors who practiced conversion therapy employed a range of physical and psychological torture methods, including electroshock and orgasm reconditioning through aversion therapy (e.g., needles, heat, or ice). They also attempted to teach heterosexual mating behaviour or conformity to sex stereotypes. These practices are now outlawed and medically discredited.

Conversion therapy ban based on 'gender identity' - bad.

The proposed ban on ‘conversion therapy’ has the effect of transing the gay away, focusing on the body rather than the mind. It seeks to transform LGB people’s bodies so that they resemble the opposite sex via social transitioning, medicalisation, and body modification. Thus, having changed the person’s ‘gender’, this ‘therapy’ renders same-sex attraction ‘invisible’ to the outside world. The names used in Australia for such practices, such as 'gender affirming care' or 'gender affirmation', mask the fact that they are a new form of anti-gay conversion ‘therapy’.

Adults, if they so choose—and if they are informed of the consequences of medical and surgical transitioning—have every right to modify their bodies as they please. But ‘gender affirming care’ would make permanent, irreversible changes to a young person’s body when that person’s sexual orientation and identity are in a state of flux and neither their bodies nor their brains have matured sufficiently for them to make fully informed and thought-through decisions about ’gender affirmation’. This trans-promoting approach will primarily target the group that conversion bans are ostensibly supposed to protect; those who are LGB.

Children likely to grow up to be gay, lesbian or bisexual (which is confirmed after puberty and sometimes some years after) are frequently ‘gender non-conforming’ and as there is a strong correlation between gender non-conformity and gender dysphoria, LGB children and teenagers are among those most likely to be targeted by so-called ‘gender affirmation’. Even for those young people who will end up as heterosexual, it takes time, and the experience of puberty, for them to work through their gender dysphoria and realise their sexual orientation. These days, however, gender non-conforming children are labelled ‘trans’ well prior to puberty, some even as young as toddlers, based on a belief system that holds that children have a ‘gender identity’ that may or may not match their body. In line with this idea, a female child more likely to grow up lesbian is expected to present as a (trans) boy, and a gender non-conforming male child is expected to identify as a (trans) girl.

The markers for labeling a child 'trans' is gender non conformity

Once a child is identified as trans, state education policies may require schools to follow the ‘gender affirming’ process, which can influence children to go on to seek puberty blockers, then cross-sex hormones and sometimes surgery to alter their bodies and present socially as ‘straight’ by assuming the appearance of the opposite sex. Furthermore, when conversion practices bans on ‘suppression of gender identity' are in place, the effect is so wide-ranging that highly therapeutic practices such as 'watchful waiting' involving holistic, compassionate, personalised care are labelled ‘conversion therapy’ or child abuse and practitioners become afraid to practice real therapy.

Instead of a healthy future with a whole, undamaged body, children who medically transition are set on a lifetime course of pharmacological dependence and increased risk of infertility, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, thrombosis, sterility, and possible sexual dysfunction. Stripping back the pleasant-sounding language of ‘diversity’, this is, in fact, making LGB and other gender non-conforming young people conform to a heterosexual norm, and condemning them to a lifetime of drug-induced health problems.

Mandatory gender affirmation is, in effect, homophobic

Mandatory gender affirmation is, in effect, homophobic. In countries such as Iran, where homosexuality is a crime punishable by death, this affirmation policy is followed through with surgical sex reassignment to rid Iran of homosexuals and other gender non-conforming individuals. In Victoria, ACT and Queensland we follow that same practice, where transition is presented as 'being your authentic self'. In reality it’s a celebration of compliance to a heterosexual norm and ironically, given the progressive tone of the conversion therapy ban, it is, in fact, a new twist on the old conversion therapy, targeting in particular young people who are LGB. Conversion therapy bans that are ‘trans’ inclusive promote irreversible harm to youth.

It is disingenuous for trans lobbies like Equality Australia to piggyback off the harms done to LGB people in the past to harm LGB youth today.

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