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Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting up with outgoing PA state representative Babette Josephs, a tireless champion for LGBT rights. One of the last pieces of legislation she will ever put out in her legislative career seeks to replicate California’s success in banning sexual orientation conversion therapy.

From the Erie Gay News:

State Rep. Babette Josephs, D-Phila., has introduced a bill that would ban mental health providers from offering sexual orientation conversion therapy for minors.

“No reputable mainstream mental health association considers being gay, lesbian or bisexual a disease or mental illness. Yet, that is exactly the premise behind this kind of therapy – a wrong assumption that homosexuality is a mental disorder that can be ‘corrected,’” Josephs said.


“The very concept of ‘correcting’ homosexuality is dehumanizing and contrary to conventional societal norms. The fact that minors are forcefully subjected to this therapy that is not based in any scientific fact is unacceptable. Pennsylvania’s children deserve better,” Josephs said.

The bill, which has been numbered as H.B. 2691, can be viewed here. (Note that while “gender identity” and related terms are found in the findings of policy section of the bill, only sexual orientation is covered in the actual enforceable part of the bill)

While these bills are commendable, the pushback against conversion therapy is in its infancy, and its a sad fact that whenever a movement for an LGBT initiative is in its nascent stages, the T portion of it gets left out. I brought up the fact that the bill does not even include the terms gender identity; she referred me to her legislative assistant, whom I contacted and have yet to hear from.

The fact of the matter is, although not talked about, ex-trans therapy DOES exist and as rare as it may seemingly be, it IS harming lives, and even one is too many. One proponent of ex-trans therapy is TV psychologist cum snake oil salesman Dr. Phil.

From Ashley Love’s myspace blog, written by Sophia Seidlberg:

What can I say about Dr. Phil, or to give him his full title, “Dr” Philip Calvin Mc Graw. He does have various qualifications in psychology, but his understanding of broader issues beyond psychology are limited, and it shows in the way he deals with complex issues on his TV show titled “Dr. Phil”, which is often a mix between the Jerry Springer show and a lynch party.

It was the content and “Message” of two such shows that he aired that seemed to have caused problems and were probably instrumental in setting a trend of bashing transgender and transsexual children in the media. The first lynching was aired on October 29, 2008 and was entitled “Gender confused kids”. The second lynching, aired on January 13, 2009 was called “Little boy lost”, where people were told by McGraw’s production team that this was supposed to be a more sensitive debate about “Gender confused children” It was not, it was a disgusting spectacle where a mother of three was sat in front of Dr. Joseph Nicolosi and Glen Stanton of Focus on the Family with the clear intent of painting her as some bad parent. It backfired because Toni (The woman being lynched) stood her ground.

Note how Dr. Phil entitled the episode “Little Boy Lost”, even though the show features the mother of a little girl with transsexualism. No, Dr, Phil, the “little boy” is not lost, he never existed, and the fact that he would call this young girl a little boy indicates that he must side with junk scientists Dr. Joseph Nicolosi and Glen Stanton, and the fact that he is still littering daytime TV with this offal is cause for concern.

This exclusion of the T in LGBT is not new. In my city, it took TWENTY years and many lives destroyed and years hidden between the addition of the term “sexual orientation” and the addition of the term “gender identity” to our Fair Practices Ordinance. In these times, we have made some progress, as even representatives from Equality PA, a mostly privileged cisgender gay male organization, have stated that they know the lies and are not going to throw the T under the bus, and in most places elsewhere, non-discrimination efforts are focused on either adding INCLUSIVE LGBT protections where there were none before or adding the T, where only cis-LGB were protected.

Being the forward thinker that I am, I am going to put my foot down and DEMAND that the words “gender identity” appear alongside “sexual orientation” in anti-conversion therapy bills, not only here in Pennsylvania, but across the country, and I hope the rest of the trans community and our allies can join me in putting their feet down against trans exclusion. Ex-trans therapy is real, its proponents are the same people who support ex-gay therapy, and it is hurting real people. I do not want to wait another twenty years for the trans* community to get their due on this issue, I don’t want to see any more destroyed lives, I don’t want to see any more hidden years.

-Jordan Gwendolyn Davis

Categories: Transgender Issues