Transsexual Anti-Conversion Campaign:

What is Conversion Therapy?

Author: Floyd Else, MA, LMHC (ret.), NCC, MAC

Posted on May 28, 2020


Generally the term, “conversion therapy” is short hand for Sexual orientation conversion therapy refers to counseling and psychotherapy to attempt to eliminate individuals’ sexual desires for members of their own sex.  “The terms reparative therapy and sexual orientation conversion therapy refer to counseling and psychotherapy aimed at eliminating or suppressing homosexuality. The most important fact about these “therapies” is that they are based on a view of homosexuality that has been rejected by all the major mental health professions.”

My interest in conversion therapy was renewed by reading my recent copy of NASWNEWS (October 2017, Volume 62, No. 9 ),and was fascinated to read about Julie Kempner, LMSW, becoming, in January, the executive director of MASW’s New York City Chapter.  

Kempner and her team have be advocating for a number of campaigns such as:

  • Close Ryker’s Campaign: “Ryker’s is a NY prison notorious for significant violence, as well as isolation, deprivation and health hazard…”
  • Campaign to raise the age:  Until recently, “New York was …one of the only two states in the nation that automatically processed all 16- and 17- year-olds as adults in the criminal justice system, no matter their offense.”

And of special interest to me,: the ANTI-Conversion Campaign: “The Chapter continues to campaign in support of a bill that would prevent mental health professionals from providing sexual orientation change efforts to minors, by defining such activities as professional misconduct.”

My first thought was, “this is similar to Washington State banning reparative therapy as Un-professional conduct, and I went to look at the applicable RCW but unable to find any mention in state law.  The only reference I could find, indicated that change in the law had failed in Washington State, see the Seattle Times, link #5, below.

I also discovered the ACA’s opinion on the matter.   “…The ACA Ethics Committee strongly suggests that ethical professional counselors do not refer clients to someone who engages in conversion therapy or, if they do so, to proceed cautiously only when they are certain that the referral counselor fully informs clients of the unproven nature of the treatment and the potential risks and takes steps to minimize harm to clients (also see Standard A.2.b., "Types of Information Needed"). This information also must be included in written informed consent material by those counselors who offer conversion therapy despite ACA's position and the Ethics Committee's statement in opposition to the treatment. To do otherwise violates the spirit and specifics of the ACA Code of Ethics.”

On March 4, 2018 the Seattle Times reported that the Washington State legislature has agreed on a bill to ban conversion therapy for any minor under the age of 18.  This bill includes penalities up to possible license revocation for any licensed or non-licensed mental health professional using conversion technigques particularly on minors.  Changes made in the House also include applying the measure to nonlicensed counselors operting as a part of a religious organization, religious denomination or church..  So watch for new laws regarding this situation.

Related Link:  Ethical issues related to conversion or reparative therapy


More Additional Resources
Sexual Bias Articles
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Mental Health Articles
How Drugs and Alcohol Affect the Brain and Body
WA. Counselor Directory: find a therapist near you


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