Efforts to “Cure” Trans People Condemned in Wake of BBC Documentary

Several major health organisations across the UK have condemned any efforts to “cure” transgender people in the wake of the controversial BBC documentary which aired last week.

As we previously discussed, the problems with the documentary – titled Transgender Kids: Who Knows Best? – are many. The main crux of the issue is the focus on the discredited Dr Kenneth Zucker, who was fired from a gender identity clinic in Canada after his attempts to “cure” trans kids.

Zucker had urged parents to “steer their children toward gender-typical toys, clothes and playmates and advises them to prohibit behaviors associated with the other sex” and to “set limits on things like cross-dressing”.

There have been a string of formal complaints about the documentary which could be very damaging indeed for transgender people across the UK by giving such views an air of legitimacy.

Today 13 groups across the country, including UK Council for Psychotherapy, the Royal College of GPs, the British Psychoanalytic Council and the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy, signed a statement disvowing any attempts to “cure” transgender people.

The groups are also in the process of drafting a Memorandum of Understanding with a clear message that attempting to change someone’s gender identity is unethical, impossible and potentially harmful. Back in 2015, a similar Memorandum of Understanding was drafted for “gay cure” therapy back in 2015.

The groups said in a joint statement:“We the undersigned UK organisations wish to state that the practice of conversion therapy has no place in the modern world. It is unethical and harmful and not supported by evidence.”

“Conversion Therapy is the term for therapy that assumes certain sexual orientations or gender identities are inferior to others, and seeks to change or suppress them on that basis.Sexual orientations and gender identities are not mental health disorders, although exclusion, stigma and prejudice may precipitate mental health issues for any person subjected to these abuses.”

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“Anyone accessing therapeutic help should be able to do so without fear of judgement or the threat of being pressured to change a fundamental aspect of who they are.”

This was signed by the UK Council for Psychotherapy, British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, British Psychoanalytic Council, British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies, The British Psychological Society, College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists, The Association of LGBT Doctors and Dentists, The National Counselling Society, NHS Scotland, Pink Therapy, Royal College of General Practitioners, the Scottish Government and Stonewall.

Janet Weisz, Chair of the Memorandum of Understanding group, and Chief Executive of the UK Council for Psychotherapy, also commented on the issue:“We have always been clear that sexual orientation and gender identities are not mental health disorders.”

“Any therapy that claims to change these is not only unethical but it’s also potentially harmful. Therefore, this practice has no place in the modern psychotherapy profession. The public must know that they can access therapeutic help without fear of judgment. It is great to see so many parts of the psychological and medical profession both in the UK and abroad uniting on this key issue.”

Helen Morgan, Chair of the British Psychoanalytic Council, had this to say: “Forcing a particular view or prejudice upon a patient has no place in therapy and all competent therapists will implicitly understand and appreciate this.”

“Psychotherapy aims to liberate people so they can live fuller, more meaningful and more satisfying lives – and patients meeting a psychotherapist should be able to assume that this is always the case in therapy. I am pleased to support moves against conversion therapy and I would urge professional colleagues – wherever they may be – to do the same.”

Peter Kinderman, President of the British Psychological Society, said: “The British Psychological Society is very proud to endorse, support, and stand by this statement.

“I am proud to live in a country that is able to celebrate the full range of loving human relationships and gender identities to offer each one of us equality under the law. Many of us have experienced a great deal of persecution and discrimination as a result of our sexual orientation, or gender identity and our role must be to combat such prejudice, not to add to it. When people are distressed, for whatever reason, we have a duty to reach out and help.”

“But that must not entail regarding our sexual orientation or gender identity as any form of pathology. I am very happy to be a party to this statement, and I hope it goes some way to contributing to a more caring and equitable society.”

Peter Kinderman, President of the British Psychological Society, said: “The British Psychological Society is very proud to endorse, support, and stand by this statement. I am proud to live in a country that is able to celebrate the full range of loving human relationships and gender identities to offer each one of us equality under the law.”

“Many of us have experienced a great deal of persecution and discrimination as a result of our sexual orientation, or gender identity and our role must be to combat such prejudice, not to add to it. When people are distressed, for whatever reason, we have a duty to reach out and help. But that must not entail regarding our sexual orientation or gender identity as any form of pathology. I am very happy to be a party to this statement, and I hope it goes some way to contributing to a more caring and equitable society.”

Ruth Hunt, Chief Executive of Stonewall, said: “The Memorandum of Understanding, hard fought for by Stonewall and the organisations involved, has been great for lesbian, gay and bi people and it’s now essential that trans people are also given this protection.”

“It’s important that it’s made clear that gender identity is not something that can be changed. Trans people do not need to be ‘cured’. What they need is to be accepted for who they are.”

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In wake of the BBC documentary on transgender kids, efforts to "cure" trans people have been condemned.