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Kentucky GOP: Conversion Therapy Good, Gender-Affirming Care Bad

Kentucky GOP: Conversion Therapy Good, Gender-Affirming Care Bad

Kentucky legislature with protesters out front

Instead of banning the dangerous practice of conversion therapy which has been proven to harm LGBTQ+ people, Kentucky Republicans targeted transgender people’s access to health care.

Cwnewser

While legislatures nationwide have recently moved to ban the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion therapy, Republicans in Kentucky passed more anti-LGBTQ+ legislation instead.

This allows the quack science many compare to torture to exist in the state for another year. LGBTQ+ individuals can suffer profound psychological consequences from conversion therapy.

In contrast, medicine that promotes gender affirmation, such as hormone therapy, has been shown to improve the mental health of transgender people. Many respected health organizations promote gender-affirming medical care alongside the American Medical Association. They also discourage conversion therapy, which attempts to change a person’s gender identity or sexual orientation.

Kentucky’s GOP-led legislature banned one of those practices but not the one medical groups debunked, Murray State University’s National Public Radio affiliate WKMS reports.

“It kind of gives their intentions away. It clarifies that their intention is not to protect children,” Oliver Hall, director of trans health for the Kentucky Health Justice Network, explained. “If their intention was to protect children, they would have started by banning ‘conversion therapy,’ which we have decades of research to show is harmful — especially for developing youth.”

As a nonbinary person, Hall said that trying to persuade trans people into believing they aren’t trans will never work.

“All it does is create long-term mental health issues and make people prone to hating themselves and give them a longer timeline for achieving mental health and stability,” they said.

In recent years, organizations like Ban Conversion Therapy Kentucky have advocated for legislation to end conversion therapy. As a result, the legislature has introduced several bills to address these issues.

Rep. Lisa Willner has sponsored a bill banning conversion therapy in the Kentucky House of Representatives since joining the body in 2019.

Behavioral health professionals in Kentucky would be prohibited from engaging in conversion therapy with anyone under 18 under her proposal. In such cases, a certification or licensing board could discipline the provider.

As long as religious leaders are not licensed mental health professionals, they would not be subject to the ban.

Bipartisan support has gradually emerged for the ban proposal among legislators. However, as LGBTQ+ rights become entangled in so-called "culture wars" in the U.S., the bill hasn't been advanced.

Cwnewser
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Christopher Wiggins

Christopher Wiggins is a senior national reporter for The Advocate. He has a rich career in storytelling and highlighting underrepresented voices. Growing up in a bilingual household in Germany, his German mother and U.S. Army father exposed him to diverse cultures early on, influencing his appreciation for varied perspectives and communication. His work in Washington, D.C., primarily covers the nexus of public policy, politics, law, and LGBTQ+ issues. Wiggins' reporting focuses on revealing lesser-known stories within the LGBTQ+ community. Key moments in his career include traveling with Vice President Kamala Harris and interviewing her in the West Wing about LGBTQ+ support. In addition to his national and political reporting, Wiggins represents The Advocate in the White House Press Pool and is a member of several professional journalistic organizations, including the White House Correspondents’ Association, Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists, and Society of Professional Journalists. His involvement in these groups highlights his commitment to ethical journalism and excellence in the field. Follow him on X/Twitter @CWNewser (https://twitter.com/CWNewser) and Threads @CWNewserDC (https://www.threads.net/@cwnewserdc).
Christopher Wiggins is a senior national reporter for The Advocate. He has a rich career in storytelling and highlighting underrepresented voices. Growing up in a bilingual household in Germany, his German mother and U.S. Army father exposed him to diverse cultures early on, influencing his appreciation for varied perspectives and communication. His work in Washington, D.C., primarily covers the nexus of public policy, politics, law, and LGBTQ+ issues. Wiggins' reporting focuses on revealing lesser-known stories within the LGBTQ+ community. Key moments in his career include traveling with Vice President Kamala Harris and interviewing her in the West Wing about LGBTQ+ support. In addition to his national and political reporting, Wiggins represents The Advocate in the White House Press Pool and is a member of several professional journalistic organizations, including the White House Correspondents’ Association, Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists, and Society of Professional Journalists. His involvement in these groups highlights his commitment to ethical journalism and excellence in the field. Follow him on X/Twitter @CWNewser (https://twitter.com/CWNewser) and Threads @CWNewserDC (https://www.threads.net/@cwnewserdc).