What does ‘conversion therapy’ look like?

3, February 2023

What would you do if your teenaged son or daughter announced to you that they might be transgender?

It’s not an easy question to answer.

It would depend on a lot of things, of course. How long have they been thinking about it? How certain are they of their feelings? Why are they feeling this way?

Do they need some reassurance that it’s normal to not feel ‘normal’? Or do they need to hear that everyone struggles in adolescence, some more than others? Did something happen that made them start to think this way?

No doubt they are dealing with new and complex feelings that will take time and care to think through.

All parents will want to lovingly support and care for their children as well as they can. It may be incredibly difficult, and it may involve very challenging decisions, but parents know their own children best.

What would you say if an LGBT activist stepped into that situation and told you what you can and cannot do? If they said your child definitely is transgender and nothing you say can challenge that. That the narrative your child has heard is the only acceptable one.

Would that be fair? Can they really claim to know better than you?

This is one of the most worrying parts of proposals for a ban on ‘conversion therapy’. It stirs up emotion on every side. Children are incredibly precious to their parents. To allow anyone to intrude on that relationship and prevent desperately needed support would defy every parent’s best instinct.

Yet activists are calling for a ban that stifles parents’ ability to have honest conversations with their children over gender and sexuality. ‘Casual conversations’ must be covered by a ban, they say. An example of one such ban in Victoria, Australia, makes ‘not affirming someone’s gender identity’ illegal. Parents refusing to support their child receiving puberty blockers are likewise breaking the law. Those demanding a ban here in the UK say it’s a great model to follow.

This way of legislating is especially concerning for the many parents who think their child has wrongly been pulled into ‘trans ideology’. Too often struggling children are sold on oh-so-easy explanations for the difficulties they feel. It is heart-breaking that parental responsibility is so often overlooked.

A recent comment on Twitter claimed that a parent had used ‘conversion therapy’ on their child. The parents had reverted to using their child’s original name and pronouns. They had chosen to read up on transgender ideology to be prepared to challenge the worldview their child had been immersed in online.

They decided to be stricter about rules and boundaries, without becoming unapproachable or unkind. They refused their child unfettered access to the internet, using parental controls on apps and blocking live chats with strangers.

Most of us would think this was just normal, sensible parenting; advisable regardless of the child’s gender struggles. Being informed about our children’s world, helping them to think critically, not allowing them to be engaged with unsafe influences – surely these can’t be called harmful?

There might be no perfect reaction to finding out your child is struggling with their gender, but being a thoughtful and engaged parent is crucial for their wellbeing. However, in the eyes of some LGBT activists, responsible parenting is deemed a real and present threat.

For them, that is exactly what ‘conversion therapy’ looks like.

Latest articles