A recent article, published in the Sex Research Journal, studied how efforts to change sexual orientation and gender identity and expression (SOGIECE), also commonly called conversion therapy, have harmful effects on health and society in two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and other queer (2SLGBTQ +) people who have been subjected to these practices. The results showed that conversion therapy contributed to experiences of emotional distress, such as feelings of guilt, shame, isolation, as well as mental health issues and suicidal tendencies.

“Public awareness and response to the continued emergence of SOGIECE in Canada and internationally has tended to lag behind scientific research on its prevalence and impacts,” lead author Travis Salway, researcher at the Center for Gender & Sexual Health Equity in Vancouver. , Remarks.
“The aim of this study was therefore to delineate the emotional, social and mental health impacts associated with SOGIECE, as well as the importance and significance attributed to these impacts, as described by people with lived experience.

December 1st, Canada’s lower house passed the fast-track bill banning the practice of conversion therapy nationwide. This is a long-awaited victory for 2SLGBTQ + communities in Canada, especially after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau publicly announced a ban on conversion therapy in 2019. Although many researchers have documented the negative consequences of conversion therapy, only five countries, Brazil, Ecuador, Germany, Malta and Taiwan, have banned conversion therapy nationally.

“SOGIECE constitutes a variety of practices that aim to deny or suppress feelings and desires associated with non-heterosexual identities, as well as the expression of gender and gender identities that differ from the sex assigned at birth,” explains the main author.
“SOGIECE remains severely underestimated in public health research and policy and continues to occur internationally, affecting around 3-18% of 2SLGBTQ + people, according to population-level surveys in the United States and Canada. ”

The research included the analysis of 22 in-depth interviews with 2SLGBTQ + individuals based on an interpretive description methodology. Respondents were asked to respond: “How do you think your experience with SOGIECE affected you” and were asked to describe “How various social and contextual characteristics of their life influence their experience before, during and after SOGIECE”.

The majority of participants said their experiences with SOGIECE lasted over a year, had been exposed to SOFIECE in adolescence and as young adults, and had experienced SOGIECE in faith and care settings. health. In terms of SOGIECE reported by interviewees, these experiences included formalized individual and group counseling sessions (e.g., conversion therapy camps), other faith-based practices (e.g., guided prayer sessions, exorcisms) and more general experiences of being pressured to suppress their sexual and gender identities.

There were three interconnected themes identified as the impacts of SOGIECE: (1) feelings of brokenness and the desire to be whole, (2) social and relational consequences, and (3) impacts on mental health and good -to be.

“First, the participants described how SOGIECE had reinforced feelings of brokenness and a desire to be whole, which for many participants contributed to a difficult start in their adult life,” write the authors.

Many participants explained how SOGIECE made them feel inferior or “broken” because of their sexual and gender identity. The SOGIECE experience also worsened the feeling of being broken. They reported feelings of shame and confusion, which impacted their image and self-esteem.

Sometimes the participants also felt a feeling of guilt and regret for having “voluntarily” attended SOGIECE, because some of them wanted to stop feeling desires for sexual and gender diversity. However, they would experience this feeling of false hope because SOGIECE had only been harmful rather than helpful.

“Second, participants described how living in SOGIECE’s non-affirmative contexts precipitated significant social and relationship challenges, including, in particular, social isolation and challenges of connecting with others (e.g., romantic partners and sexual, 2SLGBTQ + communities, families). ”

Many participants reported experiences of social isolation and feelings of lack of belonging due to SOGIECE. SOGIECE’s practice often required participants to remove their identity, thereby altering their connection to 2SLGBTQ + communities and romantic relationships. Many participants also described the suppression of sexual and relationship desires that had persisted internally for years after exposure to SOGIECE. In some cases, participants were unable to enjoy sexual activities due to feelings of guilt and shame caused by SOGIECE.

“Third, participants described how SOGIECE had been particularly damaging to mental health and well-being, including reinforcing feelings of guilt and shame related to her sexual and gender identity. “Several participants had thoughts of suicide before, during and after their SOGIECE experience.”

Many participants explained how SOGIECE impacted their well-being and mental health, as SOGIECE often made them feel like a failure and created a feeling of inadequacy. They feared disappointing family members and faith communities, which could cause them to experience high anxiety. When thinking about the prospects for their life and future, they tend to experience feelings of hopelessness and hopelessness.

“The results of this study highlight how SOGIECE disrupts the opportunities for 2SLGBTQ + people to experience mental and social well-being,” explained lead author, “the negative impacts on mental health associated with SOGIECE highlighted in this study are similar to those reported in the existing literature from SOGIECE – namely, loneliness, substance use, depression, anxiety and suicidal tendencies.

Ultimately, the authors made some suggestions based on their findings. First, they proposed targeted educational efforts to help families of 2SLGBTQ + individuals and larger communities. Second, they encouraged healthcare providers to proactively screen 2SLGBTQ + clients for exposure to SOGIECE to provide trauma-informed services for their mental health. Finally, they called for concerted research and policy efforts to address the structural determinants of inequalities faced by 2SLGBTQ + people.

“There is a critical demand for upstream measures that prevent SOGIECE from happening in the first place. We therefore join calls for the immediate design and implementation of comprehensive political interventions to ban SOGIECE in Canada and around the world.

The author concludes

“Our results highlight that SOGIECE contributes to interconnected and deleterious experiences of guilt, shame, social isolation, poor mental health and suicidality. These results identify SOGIECE as both a key consequence and a driver of societal inequalities faced by 2SLGBTQ + people in Canada.
“Equity-focused interventions to end SOGIECE and support the health and well-being of those who have experienced it are needed at the individual, community, health care and structural policy levels. “
“We simultaneously urge those with lived experience to focus on all efforts to redress the far-reaching damage associated with SOGIECE. ”

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Goodyear, T., Kinitz, DJ, Dromer, E., Gesink, D., Ferlatte, O., Knight, R., & Salway, T. (2021). “They want you to kill your inner homosexual but somehow leave the human alive”: Delineating the Impacts of Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Gender Change Efforts ‘expression. The Journal of Sex Research, 1-11. (Connect)