We are sad and disappointed to see the UK Government’s plans not to include protection for transgender people in its proposed ban on conversion therapy. When this consultation was originally launched, we responded that we were strongly in favour of banning therapies and other practices that are aimed at converting LGBTQ+ people to be straight, but we criticised the proposal for still allowing some forms of conversion therapy. You can read our whole response here (opens in PDF).
We are sad to see the scope of this proposed ban is now even smaller. We are aware that the UK Government has said it will not ban conversion therapy for transgender people out of concern that such a ban might have the unintended consequence of making it harder for therapists to help patients explore their gender identity. We do not believe this a good reason to change the plans. A ban on conversion therapy would not affect a person’s ability to explore their gender identity freely. It would only ban practices in which someone else is trying to convince a person they are something they are not.
Allowing conversion therapy for transgender people could be especially harmful for disabled people. We are already seeing transphobic activists argue that the reason autistic people appear more likely to be transgender or nonbinary is that they are being “manipulated” into thinking they are transgender. This argument feeds into dangerous ableist ideas about autistic people or people with a learning disability not being able to know who they are or make important decisions about their lives. Instead, people with a learning disability and autism must be given the same opportunities as everyone else to explore and develop who they are without being subjected to dangerous “treatments” that try to turn them into something they are not.
We strongly urge UK Government to reconsider allowing conversion practices that deny transgender people their identities and put their wellbeing in danger.