Practices to “cure” individuals of their same-sex sexual orientations and transgender identities include a number of techniques ranging from shaming to hypnosis to inducing vomiting to electric shocks.
There is broad consensus in the medical community that sexual orientation and gender identity are immutable traits—and that attempts to change these characteristics through conversion therapy or other means are not only unnecessary and ineffective, but also very harmful. Years of psychological research on the outcomes of conversion therapy has found that these techniques result in long lasting damage. In 2009, the American Psychological Association (APA) issued a report enumerating the direct risks of conversion therapy to include among others: depression, guilt, helplessness, hopelessness, shame, social withdrawal, substance abuse, stress, self-blame, decreased self-esteem, increased self-hatred, problems in sexual and emotional intimacy, high-risk sexual behaviors, and a distinct rise in suicide.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American School Counselor Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Association of Social Workers all have expressed that LGBT orientations and identities are not diseases and cannot be changed.
Laws protecting LGBT children from conversion therapy are needed at the local and state level to ensure that therapists who are licensed by the state are providing competent care and are not harming patients.