No Premier Andrews, you’re very wrong on gender therapy

Reading Time: 5 minutes
Victoria’s Premier Daniel Andrews leader may be playing to politically popular myths about therapy and gender issues, but his PC agenda will hurt real people, warns James Parker.

I was taught as a child to be attentive to my neighbour’s decisions in case they threatened my own freedoms and integrity. So let’s look at NSW’s neighbouring state of Victoria.

A week ago, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews released a statement relating to so-called ‘gay conversion therapy’. Interestingly, very few can clearly define what this therapy is and what exactly it entails. This alone should make us all question seriously what the underlying agenda actually might be of the Victorian Government. And yet the legal chains cast in Victoria could well be shackling individuals in NSW and further afield before too long.

Andrews unwaveringly mocks the claim that it is possible “to change someone’s sexuality or gender identity”. He says that any attempt to do this is “a most personal form of torture, a cruel practice that perpetuates the idea that LGBTI people are in some way broken” referring to any help offered as “bigoted quackery”.

Research

His entire hyperbole is based on a report produced in partnership with La Trobe University (yes, architects of the Safe Schools Coalition). The report’s summary states that “the historical review” undertaken by its researchers “shows that attempts to reorient LGBT people are recent”, going on to say that “in clinical medicine  they were only experimental and were never successful”.

Never successful? Researchers clearly failed to access over 20 renowned empirical and case studies which demonstrated that over the period between 1970 and 2010 over 40 per cent of homosexually oriented people who underwent therapy, often with insightful and trained specialists, experienced some degree of shift towards heterosexuality.

They also ignore contemporary research undertaken by Lisa Diamond, a non-religious lesbian researcher at Utah University and Ritch Savin-Williams, professor emeritus of developmental psychology of Cornell University who specialises in gay, lesbian, and bisexual research.

Sexuality’s fluidity

Both Diamond and Savin-Williams produced conclusive evidence that many people experience change and that sexuality can be incredibly fluid. Here we see science backing up the plethora of stories increasingly found online from people who have moved beyond gay to live what they speak of as more fulfilling and stable lives, with some marrying the opposite sex and enjoying parenthood.

Andrews’ researchers also ignored peer-reviewed research published in October 2018 and undertaken by New Zealand scientific research consultant Dr Neil Whitehead along with Paul Santero and Dolores Ballesteros.

Related coverage – St Ignatius Principal off track on sexuality

Whitehead and colleagues examined the reported benefits of sexual attraction fluidity exploration in therapy (SAFE-T) as well as the positives and harms in a sample of men with unwanted same-sex attractions. Their outcomes show that, “as found in previous surveys, there was real change, little harm, much good, completely opposite to the findings of the [2009 American Psychological Association] report”.

“A number changed a dramatic extent – from nearly completely same-sex attraction to nearly completely opposite-sex attracted,” Whitehead stated.  “About two thirds moved a significant amount, and the rest mainly did not show any change. A very few actually became more same-sex attracted. However, it was rather remarkable how much therapy was found to be very beneficial, even among those who did not change. One can surmise they had lots of help for other issues and found real fellowship in the support groups.” Torturous and cruel, eh, Mr Andrews?

Ideology vs Science

Andrews also told media: “We’ll drag these practices from the dark ages and into the brightest of lights. We’ll put an end to the suffering and help survivors to heal. And we’ll send the clearest message of all: Here in Victoria, not only are you good enough – you’re worth celebrating.” Strong words of warfare.

So, is there an underlying agenda to all this? Of course there is. Whitehead states, “The people in this survey had a religiosity very much higher than the general population. However, they were quite diverse – nondenominational Protestants, Jews, Mormons, a few Catholics, and a few traditional Protestants – no Atheists!”

It does not take much to understand why religious freedom, a dominant pillar that stabilises society, must be mocked and attacked by LGBTQ advocates and their allies after the passing of same-sex marriage legislation.

Religious belief and practice are seen time and again to assist in offering a very real way out of unwanted and, for some, torturous and cruel same-sex attractions. It is for this reason that so-called ex-gays love gays, and explains why gays hate ex-gays.

Creating more suffering

Andrews’ proposed laws will achieve the opposite of what he preaches.  They will create greater suffering for many vulnerable people.  They will block many survivors of sexual trauma from accessing healing and hope. They send a strong message to Victorians that only proponents of LGBTQ ideology are “good enough” and that those who dare to risk searching for inner freedom elsewhere are not worth celebrating.

This law should instil rage in everyone. It manifests a dictatorial state deciding whether an unwanted aspect of a citizen, which might well be changeable, can be professionally addressed or not. If it applies to something as fluid as sexual attraction, then what else might it be applied to in years to come?

All really is not well in Victoria. In fact, things are getting worse.  Hopefully, as Victoria’s neighbours, you remain attentive and ready at all costs to protect the freedoms and integrity you presently enjoy.

Studies

The results of 23 empirical case studies undertaken between 1970 and 2010 which together indicate that 1,202 homosexually oriented people (40 per cent) out of 3,036 in the 23 studies experienced at least some heterosexual shift.

Jones & Yarhouse, Book: Ex-Gays? A Longitudinal Study, InterVarsity Press, 2007. Experiencing at least some heterosexual shift: 33 out of 73

Shidlo & Schroeder, Professional Psychology: Research & Practice, 2002 – 14 out of 202

Nicolosi, Byrd & Potts, Psychological Reports, 1997 – 573 out of 882

Berger, American Journal of Psychotherapy, 1994 – 1 out of 1

MacIntosh, Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Assocn, 1994- 276/1215

Golwyn & Sevlie, Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 1993 – 1 out of 1

Schechter, International Forum of Psychoanalysis, 1992 – 1 out of 1

Van den Aardweg, Book: On the Origins & Treatment of Homosexuality,’86 – 37 out of 101

Schwartz & Masters, American Journal of Psychiatry, 1984 – 35 out of 54

Pattison & Pattison, American Journal of Psychiatry, 1980 – 11 out of 11

Birk, Book: Homosexual Behavior: A Modern Reappraisal, 1980 – 1 out of 29

Masters & Johnson, Book: Homosexuality in Perspective, 1979 – 29 out of 67

Socaridies, Book: Homosexuality, 1978 – 20 out of 45

Callahan, Book: Counseling Methods, 1976 – 1 out of 1

Freeman & Meyer, Behavior Therapy, 1975 – 9 out of 11

Canton-Dutari, Archives of Sexual Behavior, 1974 – 44 out of 54

Birk, Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, 1974 – 14 out of 66

Liss & Weiner, American Journal of Psychotherapy, 1973 – 1 out of 1

Barlow & Agras, Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 1973 – 2 out of 2

Pittman & DeYoung, Int’l Journal of Group Psychotherapy, 1971 – 3 out of 6

Truax & Tourney. Diseases of the Nervous System, 1971 – 20 out of 30

Hatterer, Book: Changing Homosexuality in the Male, 1970 – 49 out of 143

McConaghy, British Journal of Psychiatry, 1970 – 10 out of 40