A Report on Practitioner s of So-Called Conversion”Therapy”in the U.S.
So-called “conversion therapy” a term used to encompass a wide range of efforts to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity has been condemned by every major medical and mental health organizations unscientific, in effective, and dangerous. Additionally, a 2022 study by The Trevor Project and multinational research organization Cytel found that the practice of conversion therapy on LGBTQ young people and its associated harms which include substance abuse, depression, anxiety, and suicide attempts costs the U.S.economy over $9 billion annually. In recent years, significant progress has been made in efforts to reduce the incidence this fraudulent and unethical practice.Since 2012, 22 states plus the District of Columbia have enacted laws banning licensed professionals from subjecting minors to conversion therapy, and five more states plus Puerto Rico have implemented partial bans on the practice. At the same time, acceptance of LGBTQ people has continued to increase, as evidenced by growing representation in media,entertainment,and even government. Perhaps due in part to these signals of progress,there is a wide spread and expanding belief in some regions of the country that conversion therapy is no longer being practiced. This report dispels that misconception and confirms that it’s still happening.
This report documents new and troubling research revealing the ongoing prevalence of conversion therapy practitioners across the United States. While accounts from survivors and existing studies shed light on the number of LGBTQ people who continue to be subjected to conversion therapy, this report demonstrates just how widespread the supply of conversion therapy still is today.
Inefficacy and Dangers
With countless tragic testimonies from survivors, public statements from national and international medical authorities,and growing body of unanimous published research dating back half a century, one thing is eminently clear: conversion therapy does not work.These practices wreak havoc on the lives of LGBT people and their families,leaving behind devastating social,emotional, and economic consequences that can last a lifetime. The American Psychological Association APA,the leading scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States, has recognized conversion therapy as in effective and associated with an extensive list of long-lasting social and emotional consequences.These include depression, anxiety, suicidality, substance abuse, orange post-traumatic responses,loss of connection community,damaged familial relationships, self-blame,guilt,and shame.
The Trevor Project’s research was conducted through publicly accessible online sources. Researchers experienced with conversion therapy and the evolving ways practitioners market themselves performed systematic online searches of key terms designed lead to individuals who advocate for and/or directly engage in sexual orientation and gender identity change efforts. Data Was Collected And documented beginning in 2018,and all data collected before 2023 was verified for currentness before inclusion in this report’s data set. The final data presented in this report (including licensure data) was accessed,reviewed,and verified between January and September of 2023. Researchers performed extensive searches through search engines, social media platforms, and directories maintained by pro-conversion therapy organizations and associations. Terms commonly utilized within the conversion therapy industry— including phrases like“reparative therapy,”“ex-gay,”“unwantedsame-sexattraction,” “sexuality issues,”“gender identity issues,”“gender confusion,”and“sexual brokenness”—were queried to identify leads for further research and review.