My parents, saving up for so-called counseling, heard through a network of Baptist preachers that, in many cases, clients needed months, sometimes years, of “treatment.” By the time I realized that conversion therapy was not working, it had not only taken away our money but had caused profound emotional and psychological harm to our family.
Before the two weeks were up, the program director talked with my mom about extending my stay for another month, then another three months, and then, maybe even years. It was only when my mother saw me on the verge of suicide that she withdrew me from treatment. Otherwise, we could have spent thousands more lost years of our lives in conversion therapy.
This week, JAMA Pediatrics published an economics study on the cost of conversion therapy among LGBTQ youth. Over a lifetime, the estimated cost is approximately $100,000 per person, with a national burden of approximately $650 million.
These staggering numbers do not even include the adult or international population. Taking into account the damage caused by such “therapy”, the researchers estimated a total national economic burden of $9.23 billion.
This study confirms what many survivors of conversion therapy already know to be true: Conversion therapy is extremely harmful and expensive in countless ways. Over the years, I’ve met and interviewed dozens of survivors who have spent their life savings on conversion therapy, which researchers have found to dramatically increase the risk of depression, substance abuse, and suicidal ideation. . Not a single survivor I spoke with failed to mention the pressure of so-called counselors who suggested, as was mine, that the road to “cure” would be long and expensive.
When someone is told repeatedly that their identity is shameful and wrong, is it any wonder that they will seek further treatment in hopes of leaving the shame behind? Human rights organizations such as the Human Rights Campaign have denigrated the practice of conversion therapy for years.
This latest study provides more evidence that the practice is actually ineffective and harmful. In contrast, research shows positive therapy, which embraces and maintains a positive outlook of all identities, in addition to reducing the risk of self-harm and other negative outcomes, is worth $1.81 billion nationally without intervention and The conversion would save about $6.19 billion on therapy. This suggests that when LGBTQ youth undergo valid affirmative treatment, not only are costs lower, but the outcomes are more positive.
In many ways, I was lucky. With the support of confirming friends, I was able to convince myself and my family that I didn’t need to erase my identity. When one of my conversion therapy counselors later reached out to me, requesting me to leave my “sinful lifestyle” behind and enroll again, I told him the truth: that I was very happy to accept who I was. Hui.
Although I didn’t spend much money on conversion therapy, I’ve suffered from depressive episodes and suicidal thoughts for years, the true value of which I couldn’t even begin to calculate. Because of the harmful religious fanaticism I experienced in my sessions, I could no longer pray to God without shame. I took Viagra when I was 19 because every time I tried to be intimate with my first boyfriend, I remembered counselors telling me I crave male touch because I didn’t experience it from my father which created a mental barrier that was insurmountable. without medical intervention.
What is the true cost of losing someone’s trust? The ability to experience love?
It is a tragedy that, despite the evidence of harm, some states – such as Wisconsin, Oklahoma and South Carolina – protect proselytizing therapy based on religious freedom and individual liberty, while others, such as Florida, enact laws aimed at Continuing targeting LGBTQ youth. To this day, nearly half of the United States still allows harmful attempts to change sexual orientation and gender identity. As the editorial accompanying the study noted, “the human toll simply isn’t enough to eradicate this dangerous practice.”
Do abstract notions of personal and religious freedom always take precedence over real suffering? Is saving money more important than saving lives? Perhaps, for many of these politicians, the answer to both questions is yes.
Quantifying the financial impact of conversion therapy will help many people understand its true costs, you can’t put a price on a human life. My parents say they would give anything to reverse the harmful effects of conversion therapy, to take back what happened to our family. If only they could.
If you or someone you know needs help or support, the Trevor Project’s trained crisis counselors are available 24/7 via chat at 1-866-488-7386. TheTrevorProject.org/Get-HelpOr by sending a message to START to 678678.
If you are facing a suicidal crisis, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or text the crisis text line at home to 741741 to get help.