A letter endorsing LD 1025: "An Act To Prohibit the Provision of Conversion Therapy to Minors by Certain Licensed Professionals"

Dear Maine State Senators and Representatives,

In June, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising and it is in the spirit of that uprising that we write you today in support of L.D. 1025, which would prohibit conversion therapy in Maine. Our LGBTQ+ ancestors rioted in order to create a world where all LGBTQ+ people could come out and grow into their most authentic and essential selves. One of the many obstacles levied against their health, well-being, and sense of self, were pseudo-scientific instruments that claimed to cure that which was, and is, simply natural and essential to them. This quackery amounted to little more than medically sanctioned torture in the forms of institutionalization, castration, and electroconvulsive shock therapy, among other false and deeply harmful practices. All are equally devoid of scientific validity and pose serious dangers to patients—especially to minors, who are often forced to undergo them by their parents or legal guardians, and who are at especially high risk of harm. Such measures were administered under the scientifically discredited pretense that being LGBTQ+ is a defect or disorder that must be corrected. Some even doubled down on these iniquities by involving spiritual damnation from notable faith traditions that also claim to preach mercy, compassion, and love of one’s neighbor. These practices were, rightly, outlawed because not only do they not work, they are injurious to the patients who are subjected to them. One must beware of old, pernicious practices masquerading in new forms: conversion therapy is one such practice.

Conversion therapy can be extremely dangerous and, in some cases, fatal. Credible reports such as the one issued in 2009 by the American Psychological Association conclude that some of the risks of conversion therapy are depression, guilt, helplessness, hopelessness, shame, social withdrawal, suicidality, substance abuse, self-blame, decreased self-esteem and authenticity to others, increased self-hatred, or a feeling of being dehumanized and untrue to self. These risks are even greater for our youth. Minors who experience family rejection based on their sexual orientation or gender identity are especially vulnerable to these serious health risks making conversion therapy all the more poisonous. Much like the practices of old, conversion therapy further compounds these health risks by involving homophobic and transphobic dogma.

Let us be clear: conversion therapy is nothing short of torture, is no different than the quackery and pseudo-scientific practices of the past, and should be banned as such. All of the nation’s leading professional medical and mental health associations have rejected conversion therapy as unnecessary, ineffective, and dangerous. Fifteen states have listened to the evidence, the experts, and most importantly the victims, and banned this practice. It is under the prudent guidance of these experts, the overwhelming evidence of the damage conversion therapy causes, especially to our youth, and the harrowing stories of its survivors, that we, the Pride Portland! Steering Committee, unanimously and unequivocally endorse L.D. 1025. Banning conversion therapy is a step towards the world the rioters were fighting for. We can think of no better time than on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising than to take yet another step forward towards freedom, equality, health, and well being by banning conversion therapy in Maine.

In Solidarity,

The 2019 Pride Portland! Steering Committee

Pride Portland