Michigan Democratic governor signs ban on ‘conversion therapy’ for minors
Let me see if I’ve gotten this right. If an adolescent seeks the care of a gender-affirming health professional offering permanent body-altering hormones and surgeries, that counsel should be encouraged & protected by law.
But if that same questioning adolescent encounters the care and counsel of a health professional offering advice on how to become comfortable with his/her body, that may be considered ‘conversion therapy’ which would result in disciplinary action against the health professional?
Did I get that right?
In the past ‘conversion therapy’ included treatments like electric shock-therapy. Nobody. NOBODY does this in the Western world today. Nobody. That disreputable treatment was considered a way of ‘getting the gay’ out. So using the term ‘conversion therapy’ conjures up those past horrors. It’s an effective rhetorical move.
And so today, ‘talk therapy’ could be considered ‘conversion therapy’ unless it goes in an affirming direction. Also, whereas ‘sexual orientation’ was the main concern, ‘gender identity’ is included in today’s legal language, something most people doubt they have.
The definitional goal-posts have been moved. And Michigan joins 22 other states that have banned so-called conversion therapy.
CNN reports on Michigan Law
One of the bills Whitmer signed into law Wednesday, House Bill 4616, prohibits mental health professionals from engaging in conversion therapy with minors. Under the bill, any violation will result in the mental health professional facing disciplinary action, which could include a suspended or revoked license.
House Bill 4617, meanwhile, adds the definition of conversion therapy to the state’s mental health code. It defines the term as “any practice or treatment by a mental health professional that seeks to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity, including, but not limited to, efforts to change behavior or gender expression or to reduce or eliminate sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward an individual of the same gender.”
The ban will take effect in late October.
Source: CNN [emphasis added]
Meanwhile Across The Pond
Glasgow University Law Professor Michael Foran has written a good article about the complexities involved with passing this kind of bill. I don’t agree with everything he writes, but a thorough set of questions are being asked by Foran. His article is well worth your time.
He’s writing because the UK parliament is debating a “Conversion Therapy Bill” that attaches criminal offense to the practice. It will be more retributive than mere professional discipline or the loss of a license. (The Michigan Law)
He argues that the proposed legislation, aiming to criminalize conversion therapy, must be crafted with precision, clarity, and proportionality. He warns against the potential criminalization of essential support for those grappling with sexuality and gender identity.
Professor Foran emphasizes the need for clear definitions of terms like “sex,” “sexual orientation,” and “gender identity,” without which the legislation may lead to confusion and unintended consequences. The relationship between gender identity and sexual orientation must be carefully considered, and the bill must avoid inadvertently enabling conversion therapy through hasty affirmation of transitions. In an ironic twist, Foran says this looks like “internalized homophobia” and an effort to “trans away the gay.”
Furthermore, the legislation must not create a chilling effect on therapists and mental health professionals, who must be free to provide appropriate care without fear of criminalization. It must also respect human rights, including freedom of expression, association, and religion.
Here are a few paragraphs of his argument.
Intuitively, one would assume a ban on conversion therapy is an unqualified good. This is partially because talk of conversion therapy conjures images of gay people being strapped to tables and electrocuted. But if this legislation is not carefully drafted, it could criminalise the provision of vitally needed support for vulnerable children and adults struggling with sexuality and gender identity issues.
When and if the Government produce a draft, for legislation to deserve support, it must ensure that therapists are still able to do their jobs without committing crimes, and patients are able to receive appropriate care, tailored to them which keeps their physical and mental wellbeing in focus.
There is a real danger that this Bill could discourage clinicians or those working with LGBT people, including vulnerable minors, from providing appropriate care that is tailored to the individual in question…..Appropriate care must ensure that there is informed consent to any medical interventions, something which cannot be done if professionals cannot speak openly about the risks involved and the possibility of regret or even detransition.
Any legislation that criminalises speech must be cognisant of the human rights implications. The Bill must be carefully tailored to ensure that it does not criminalise the expression of truth about biological sex as someone sees it. It must not criminalise consensual prayer between adults.
Michael Foran (The Critic Magazine) [emphasis mine]
Two feminists whose opinions I respect disagree with the premise of Professor Foran’s admonitions.
Of course, I think Helen is wrong about the “souls” bit (see below). She grew up Catholic, and considers herself an atheist now. But I take her point.
As I’ve done previously on this blog, I must ask, who is engaged in conversion therapy here?
Is it the one who is trying to help a person align their thoughts and feelings with the body they were given at birth or the professional who disregards the body and proposes irreversible surgeries combined with life-long hormone treatments in hopes of aligning the outer body with a patient’s inner desires?
Who is the conversion therapist?
Gender Identity Ideologues pin that label on those clinicians and pastors who try to help an individual become more comfortable with their immutable biological sex. These concerned professionals and pastors counsel them not to transition away from their sex. It’s called Talk Therapy. And it is very effective, especially for children with gender dysphoria. As Professor Foran accurately states in his article
…several studies have indicated that between 60 and 80% of gender distressed children will desist if not placed on a medical pathway and up to 80% of them will grow up to be homosexual or bisexual.
Trans Activists regard these Talk Therapy efforts as immoral and professional clinicians are forbidden in some states and other countries from steering individuals toward accepting their birth sex by using the “watchful waiting” approach instead of heading down the medicalization path of no return.
The Classic Christian Perspective
I’ve briefly written about Western philosopher Rene Descartes in a few posts. I’ve highlighted the idea of Cartesian Dualism, the idea that the mind and body are separate entities. This is a dualism that today’s Trans Activists develop into an extreme antagonism. Those entities, body and soul, are indeed different. But they are designed by God to be fully integrated. Because to put it plainly, fully separating body from soul (mind) is the definition of death.
It’s like trying to separate the wind from the air – they exist together, intertwined. The mind and body, are not two unrelated things, but two parts of a whole. It’s like a symphony, where the body and soul are different instruments playing in harmony to create the music of our identity.
The biblical witness teaches us that we are created in the image and likeness of God, both body and soul. Our bodies, are not just vessels for our souls, but an integral part of who we are. Our bodies, are part of our identity, not separate from it.
The idea that one’s gender identity can be different from one’s biological sex, is like trying to separate the sun from its light – they’re inherently linked. Classic Christianity teaches us that our biological sex is a gift from God, not something to be rejected and harmed. It’s a part of who we are, as much as our soul is. Yes, sadly, there will be a separation at death. But there will be reintegration at the Resurrection.
Finally, Classic Christianity warns us that the thoughts or desires of our inner and outer being may lead us astray. The mind, for example, can be a tricky thing. It may be convinced of things that aren’t true.
In the end, we must respect and accept the bodies we’ve been given, not try to change them to fit an obvious delusion.
Additional ‘conversion therapy’ posts here.