New Survey Shows Need to Protect Transgender Youth From Conversion Therapy

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (December 8, 2016)—Today, the National Center for Transgender Equality released the findings of the U.S. Transgender Survey, the largest survey of transgender people in the United States.  Conducted in 2015, the anonymous, online survey examines the experiences of 27,715 adults from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as three U.S. territories and U.S. military bases overseas.

Among the findings is that 18%—nearly one in five—of transgender people who had contact with a medical professional about their gender identity reported that the professional tried to stop them from being transgender.  Transgender people who had these negative experiences were also more likely to experience psychological distress, to have attempted suicide, run away from home, been homeless, and have engaged in sex work than those who did not have the experience. The survey also found that 14% of transgender individuals—more than one in 10—who disclosed their transgender identity to their family were sent to a professional to stop them from being transgender.

“This groundbreaking report underscores the vulnerability of transgender youth seeking professional support and the need for policies and legislation aimed at protecting these youth from unethical and potentially damaging treatment by mental health professionals. It also highlights the critical role of family support in ensuring the safety and wellbeing of transgender youth,” said National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) Youth Policy Counsel and #BornPerfect Campaign Coordinator Carolyn Reyes. “No young person should ever be shamed by a professional into thinking that who they are is wrong. Mental health professionals, in particular, should provide care that is ethical and affirming for transgender youth and that assists families in supporting their transgender children.”

NCLR has been at the forefront of efforts to protect youth and their families from conversion therapy, and works closely with legislators and state leaders across the country to introduce bills protecting youth from these dangerous practices. In 2014, it launched its #BornPerfect campaign to stop conversion therapy across the country by 2019 by passing laws, fighting in courtrooms, and raising awareness about the serious harms caused by attempts to change a young person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

Born Perfect is a survivor-led campaign to end conversion therapy created by The National Center for Lesbian Rights, a national legal organization committed to advancing the human and civil rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.