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Dem lawmakers discuss legislation to prohibit the practice of conversion therapy on minors

Medical expert, conversion therapy survivor join legislators to recognize Transgender Day of Remembrance
November 17, 2015
Democratic Newsroom

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State Reps. Denise Driehaus (D-Cincinnati) and Debbie Phillips (D-Albany) were joined by Dr. Jim Boyles, a licensed psychologist, and Jody Davis, a conversion therapy survivor, to observe Transgender Day of Remembrance and call for movement on a bill that would ban the practice of conversion therapy on minors.

“Conversion therapy can cause great harm to those children struggling with their sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Driehaus. “House Bill 247 will keep our children safe and strengthen families, by allowing them to make informed decisions based on evidence-based, therapeutic practices.”

Introduced in June, HB 247 would prohibit certain health care professionals from engaging in conversion therapy and sexual orientation change efforts when treating minor patients. Similar legislation has been introduced in the Ohio Senate by Sen. Charleta Tavares (D-Columbus).

“No child should be forced to change who they are or how they feel. Instead, they should be given the tools to understand their emotional and psychological well-being,” said Phillips. “It is time to bring Ohio into the 21st century by ending practices that falsely portray sexuality and gender identity as mental illnesses.”

According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), conversion therapy does not follow the fundamental principles of psychoanalytic treatment and often results in substantial psychological pain by reinforcing damaging internalized attitudes. The APA, which has formally opposed conversion therapy since 1998, has also noted that the practice can pose serious health risks to patients, especially minors.

Jody Davis, a registered nurse and licensed therapist from Columbus, Ohio, spoke about the harm inflicted by the year she spent in conversion therapy as a young person.

“As a transgender woman who spent a year in reparative therapy as a young person, I can tell you that the approach did not help me,” said Davis. “The basis of [conversion] therapy reinforced my own self-hatred. The therapy ultimately failed and set me back even further away from real healing, which came as I began to accept who I was, who I am as a transgender person.”

The Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) is held across the country on or around November 20 each year to remember those in the transgender community who have been killed and lost due to violence. The transgender community experienced nearly twice as many murders in 2015 over the previous year in the United States, while the suicide rate also rose.