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End ‘Conversion’ Therapies for Gay and Transgender Youth

It is difficult, in fact impossible, to draw any definitive conclusions about what is involved in dealing with transgender teens and associate issues from any one situation.  These are complex situations and no two people's situations are exactly the same.  Some families have dealt with transgender family members very successfully, and both the families and the individuals are doing well.  In other situations -- when people are not well informed, or when some agencies and institutions become involved -- we read about protracted difficulties.  Many of us need help in dealing with issues we face that are considered outside of societal norms.  Many people get help to deal with getting divorced, coming to terms with the death of a loved one, or finding a meaningful solution to difficult problems. Help should be available to people in need.  What is often so frightening is how that need is defined and by whom.

Religion is not the answer for many; furthermore, there are too many untrained, unskilled people who use religion as a panacea for issues they are not capable of managing.  We hope that what is being proposed here is to tell religious zealots to get out of the therapy business, but not to deny real therapeutic assistance to those who could benefit from such professional help.  Thankfully, the President will also be taking further steps to protect gay federal workers.

Regarding the recent death of transgender teen Leelah Alcorn, the April 8, 2015 copy of the New York Times online reports as follows:

WASHINGTON — A 17-year-old transgender youth, Leelah Alcorn, stunned her friends and a vast Internet audience in December when she threw herself in front of a tractor-trailer after writing in an online suicide note that religious therapists had tried to convert her back to being a boy.

President Obama will call for an end to psychiatric therapies aimed at “repairing” gay, lesbian and transgender youth, White House officials said. His decision on the sensitive issue is the latest example of his continuing embrace of gay rights.

In a statement to be posted on Wednesday evening alongside a White House.gov petition begun in honor of a transgender teenager, Leelah Alcorn, who committed suicide, Mr. Obama will condemn the psychiatric practice, sometimes called “conversion” or “reparative” therapy, which is supported by some socially conservative organizations and religious doctors." 

"On Wednesday, Mr. Obama’s top aides also heralded new protections for gay federal workers that went into effect this week. Last summer, Mr. Obama issued executive orders to ban discrimination on the basis of gender by federal contractors."

Read the complete article here: 

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/09/us/politics/obama-to-call-for-end...

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Comment by N'Zinga Shani on April 10, 2015 at 2:52am

For many older people (and for some younger ones as well) this entire concept is strange; they are uncomfortable; they really believe that if they ignore the fact that their child, grandchild, or relative is having difficulty being who they perceive themselves to be, the whole issue will go away after a while and the person will "get over it."  Someone told me earlier: "it's only because of all this nonsense in the Internet media and on television that some kids are being confused. Media is causing havoc on some kids who have weak minds.  Parents need to stand up against all this foolishness; there's no trans- anything; you're a girl or a boy; we need to pray for these weak minded kids; that's all there is to it."

I think it is important that our society starts to have small group education and therapeutic sessions for family members. Those parents, grandparents and others who are having such difficulty -- as expressed by this 50 plus grandparent -- need support; they need education and they need help in coping, so that they can be supportive of their loved ones who are dealing with these challenges.  As a society we have come a long way; there is still some distance to go in creating an environment that puts our humanity first.  May we all develop the wisdom and the strength to be our best selves.

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