New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Saturday that he would be taking action against gay conversion therapy via an executive order. Conversion therapy has long been denounced by the majority of health organizations as not only ineffective, but incredibly harmful. Nonetheless, this form of so-called “therapy” is still covered by health insurance plans in 45 states. Cuomo’s plan puts in place financial barriers for those who would participate or coerce others to partake in these inhumane practices through a statewide ban on coverage for any and all reparative therapy related services.
Unfortunately, this minor step towards some semblance of equal rights for members of the LGBT community is rather revolutionary — only four states other than New York have managed to enact similar restrictions. Meaning that throughout the rest of the nation this horrific process is not just legal, but something one could obtain free of charge. This is particularly worrisome not just for LGBT adults, but also for children, who are more likely to undergo involuntary conversion therapy at the hands of their parents. The degrading and backwards nature of this process creates irreparable psychological damage, especially to young developing minds. In a survey of LGBT individuals who had undergone this therapy, 92 percent felt that they were harmed by it to some degree, with 16 percent of participants stating that it had devastated their lives. This level of correlating detrimental effects should not be tolerated — especially when this destructions comes from the advice of a trusted medical professional.
Conversion therapy has been explicitly condemned by nearly all prominent organizations in the field of mental health — homosexuality is most certainly not a mental disorder and therefore cannot be medicated away with drugs or psychological care. It is an obscene disregard of the medical community’s professional standards that this form of phony therapy continues to be practiced.
The majority of doctors who prescribe this supposed treatment do so under the jargon-laden diagnosis of “Sexual Disorder Not Otherwise Specified,” which is a term from an out of date version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. This particular diagnosis allows doctors to completely define and control the treatment process of the patient, which frequently ends poorly, as many doctors can be coerced into misusing their professional discretion for illegitimate and homophobic purposes.
This loophole not only allows health insurance funds to be improperly used, but it is responsible for irreversible damage on the psychological well being of countless children and adults. In an age in which same-sex marriage has been upheld by the Supreme Court as a fundamental right, state legislatures nationwide must do their part to forbid an immensely damaging and medically unsound procedure from occurring within their borders.
This article initially appeared here in Washington Square News.