Last Monday, Parliament's Westminster Hall heard from a string of MPs decrying 'conversion therapy' or 'conversion practices'.
Reading through the debate on whether 'transgender conversion therapy' should be banned, you'll see some shocking language about the damage it causes:
"trans people [are] a greater risk of experiencing the harmful & degrading practices."
"Conversion therapy is abuse and it is because it is cruel and abhorrent that young lesbian, gay and bisexual people face the humiliation and violence that comes with it."
"...these coercive and 'abhorrent practices' do not work"
"...I will not stand for the division of the LGBT community—division that would give bigots a green light to continue torturing our trans friends."
"quackery and harm perpetrated by people who set themselves up in business doing this stuff."
It sounds bad.
Bigoted conversion therapists seem to be lurking on the internet, profiting from abhorrent, cruel, harmful, quack, abusive practices that torture and degrade trans people.
Just one thing – where are they all? Can someone point me to any examples of these awful people?
They're clearly not talking about anyone associated with the IFTCC. After all, they simply talk to people who want their support. They have ethical frameworks and the science increasingly backs up the efficacy and safety of the help they provide. That's not harmful and it's certainly not torture.
No, that's not conversion therapy. Conversion therapy leaves people scarred for life, preying on people who feel like they don't fit in, promising they can change and leaving them with deep regret. Even children.
What's this? Maybe this is conversion therapy?
"I have no sensation in my crotch region at all. You could stab me with a knife and I wouldn't know. The entire area is numb, like it's shell shocked and unable to comprehend what happened, even 4 years on...
...It takes me about 10 minutes to empty my bladder, it's extremely slow, painful...
...I cannot believe they were allowed to do this to me, even after all the red flags...
...In my obsessive, deeply unwell state they just nodded along and didn't tell me the realities, what life would be like."
That's just the more quotable parts of that testimony. The full details are more graphic and horrifying.
But it's not what politicians call 'conversion therapy'. This is 'reassignment surgery' where men are converted into women.
MPs will have us believe that our gender identity and sexuality is completely fixed, unchangeable. But through the NHS they fund treatments that permanently sterilise and scar perfectly healthy bodies.
Here's another testimony:
"It was presented to me as a panacea, I was tempted by the promise of completely reinventing myself, new sexual experiences and acceptance into a community that rewarded adherence to the cult...
... I was just a confused boy who was terrified at the idea of growing up and being a man
...I'm terrified that I'm now sterile and that nobody will look at me the same again. I'm so angry at the media complex and social circles I came from for enabling this delusion I just want to scream."
Spend any time on the r/detrans subreddit and you'll see many stories of frustration from people who've been let down by the promise of transgender medicine and surgery. The stories related there have the air of truth about them – the stories don't parrot any particular ideology. It's simply a lot of people around the world who've been deeply let down by trans pathways, telling their stories and asking for help.
For every horror story quoted by an MP about what they call conversion therapy, we could tell many stories of healthy male or female bodies torn apart to provide the illusion of gender reassignment - only the illusion though. Because how many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Answer: four.
What is a man who:
- has been mutilated to remove the penis and simulate a vagina?
- takes cross-sex hormones to grow larger breasts?
- has gone through facial feminisation surgery?
- has received a gender recognition certificate?
- is routinely called a woman?
Answer: A man.
Transgender medicine is objectively harmful and degrading. Even puberty blockers, which MPs claim are totally reversible. Here's what they really do:
"...Puberty suppression hormones prevent the development of secondary sex characteristics, arrest bone growth, decrease bone accretion, prevent full organisation and maturation of the brain, and inhibit fertility."
Children that are socially affirmed and take puberty blockers are much more likely to continue on to cross-sex hormones (available from age 16 in the UK). Here's what they do:
"Crossgender hormones increase a child's risk for coronary disease and sterility. Oral estrogen, which is administered to gender dysphoric boys, may cause thrombosis, cardiovascular disease, weight gain, hyperglyceridaemia, elevated blood pressure, decreased glucose intolerance, gall bladder disease, prolactinoma, and breast cancer. Testosterone administered to gender dysphoric girls may negatively affect their cholesterol; increase their hepatoxicity and polycythaemia (an excess of red blood cells); increase their risk of sleep apnoea; cause insulin resistance; and have unknown effects on breast, endometrial and ovarian tissues."
And that's before any scalpels have been involved.
Tell me again, MPs, how willingly talking to a trusted counsellor or pastor, with the aim of reducing same-sex attraction or behaviour, is a menace to be stamped on, while you're funding the sterilisation of the next generation?
Remember those awful stories you've heard about or seen dramas of, where LGB people are abused and permanently scarred? From the 1970s and earlier? These 'abhorrent' treatments that you portray 'conversion therapy' as?
You are supporting the modern equivalent – currently seen as respectable treatments for gender dysphoria.
One day, you'll realise it. And maybe then, like now, you'll find a way to make it out that the victims' harrowing experiences are mostly the fault of Christians.
Christians – let's give them no ammunition. If we want to demonstrate genuine love and compassion, we need to be amongst the most vocal in opposing transgender medicine.
Let's support the freedom to talk about these issues and oppose the real, barbaric conversion practices.
Paul Huxley is Communications Manager at Christian Concern.