Andrew Beckwith
Andrew Beckwith misinforming people | CBN

I am constantly amazed at the beliefs that some people embrace in order to conform their world to the scripture of religious conservatism. Massachusetts is once again considering a ban on adolescent conversion therapy. This brings out one Andrew Beckwith of Massachusetts Family Institute. As an aside, Beckwith is also a lawyer affiliated with Alliance Defending Freedom, an anti-LGBT hate group.

According to American Family Association’s blog (yeah, it’s one of those days):

Andrew Beckwith of the Massachusetts Family Institute says parental rights would seriously be violated if this is passed.

“This is actually a direct assault on the rights of parents to bring up their children,” he argues, “and would seek to put a gag on therapists and parents who are trying to lead their children away from homosexual behavior or gender-identity surgeries and hormones.”

None of that blather addresses the issues. The reason for banning conversion therapy for children are:

  1. It doesn’t work. Never has. Never will.
  2. It is based on pseudoscience.
  3. It is toxic, particularly for adolescents.

The very fact that Mr. Beckwith is informing parents that there is some alchemy to turn their kids from gay to straight or to change their gender identity poses a far greater threat to those same parents than bans on conversion therapy. Consider what happens when a teen, under pressure, lies to his parents that he has been cured. Eventually the truth emerges that he is still gay.

Mr. Beckwith has some strange notions with respect to gender identity. First of all there is no correlation of talk therapy to procedures. The reason for that is simple. There is no case in the medical literature of anyone changing anyone else’s gender identity. Surgery is ordinarily not an option for children and it would require parental consent. Hormones are generally not an option until about 16 years of age and they also require parental consent.

Just to set the record straight, if a child has gender dysphoria then he or she needs to be evaluated by a specialist — usually a psychiatrist. The Christian right has spread the idea that such specialists create transgender children. That is a deliberate falsehood.

Gender dysphoria has a wide range of severity. Most kids will not feel compelled to transition. However, if a child is in significant distress then they will seek ways of alleviating their discomfort, usually through some form of gender affirmation. Think about it. A transgender child has determined that all of the ridicule that they will receive in school is outweighed by the relief that they obtain from transitioning.

Gender dysphoric children are at considerable risk for self-harm. Some form of conversion therapy — which cannot succeed — only increases that risk.

Parents require greater concern for their children and less concern for ancient texts.

Beckwith says parents who resist subjecting their children to sex-change hormones or surgery could be found guilty of child abuse if this bill becomes law.

One thing has nothing to do with the other. Hormones and surgery do require parental consent and surgery is usually reserved for adulthood. Only about one-third of trans people have had surgery. More importantly, why would any parent withhold consent when their child is needlessly suffering?

I would argue that withholding puberty blockers (if medically warranted) is not only child abuse but causes needless misery in the future. Consider, for example, the added distress if a trans boy starts to develop breast tissue or a trans girl develops a noticeable adam’s apple.

“The tragic irony here is that the bill would statutorily describe talk-therapy — counseling — as child abuse,” he warns, “and thereby leave the parents with no alternative other than the mutilation and hormonal injection of their own children, which is child abuse.’

Ineffective and toxic counseling from a crackpot is not an alternative to anything. And, yes, only a religious crackpot would offer conversion “therapy.” They have the same credibility and success as faith healers.

If a dysphoric child is in severe distress then he or she is already transitioning in one form or another. Why would a parent want to compromise their health and safety with pseudoscientific counseling which has been discredited by every mainstream medical organization in the United States. These include (in part):

The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association’s Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation, the American Psychological Association, the American Psychoanalytic Association, the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, the Pan American Health Organization, the American School Counselor Association, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services), the American College of Physicians, the American Medical Association, the World Psychiatric Association, the National Association of Social Workers, and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Does Mr. Beckwith think that this is some form of conspiracy to effect political correctness?

Hard to believe that this guy is a licensed attorney:

Under this law, Beckwith says parents could actually have their children taken away by the state.

A ban on conversion therapy has no relationship to child custody. Children have rights (not just parents). Those rights vary from state to state. A tiny minority of children have severe gender dysphoria. There is no intervention known to medical science to treat gender dysphoria.

Prohibiting a child from obtaining some measure of relief by some form of gender affirmation is considered child abuse in some locales irrespective of any laws banning conversion therapy. Such parental prohibitions are also spectacularly stupid.

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By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.