Posts Tagged ‘Conversion Therapy’

The City of Calgary finally joined the civilized world, at least symbolically, with their ban on Conversion Therapy. That is the therapy where you try to re-wire someone’s God created sexual identity (or if not a believer in God, evolved sexual identity). Now don’t obstuficate by quibbling over identity, it is a hardwired being and belonging in-self. They have joined other civic-municipal jurisdictions in the province of Alberta taking an action the Provincial government will not. The province, unlike other provinces (B.C., Ontario, Manitoba and Nova Scotia) have not taken the step, but our current Federal Government has tabled a ban legislation.

Yes, there is many saying the ban could’ve been politics to cover up other issues of the time to control the news cycle. This is highly possible as there was a community association fighting to not be forced to conform what the city wanted their city to be based on their city Councillor’s ideology on community development, and they lost any media attention as they were on the docket the same day as the ban. As well, as the ongoing transparency woes. All of this was sidelined in the media over the symbolic stance for human rights, and affirmation of the person. I would like to side with the concept the symbolism was done in the best of intentions– but politics be politics. So what is conversion therapy?

The noted article states conversion therapy has probably been happening for over 100 years, which is yes. I noted it caught on with fundamentalist religious sects as a practice based on faulty social science. The science being as we began to unpack the Adverse Childhood Experiences (over 20 years ago even before that was the term) would look at the effects of talk and narrative therapy on a child or adolescent upon their sexual health after molestation, sexual assault, rape or sex trafficking. What they found was a slim percentage that responded moving from believing they had same sex attraction to being cis-gendered. What was not taken into account was the trauma of the assaults, and the interruption of what a healthy sexual identity would be for the person, or if someone existed already on the spectrum within the scope of bi-sexuality to broader (the new term, pan-sexual) that they could easily conform to a societal norm to be accepted, but it had not dealt with the root issue or effective healing. It though gave a running game “rooted in psychology” that fundamentalists could latch on to their abuse/misuse of scriptures.

This idea of conforming was seen a lifetime ago when I was in youth ministry, and the relationship (long-distance, from the south western USA) I was in had a youth in her youth group post some writing on our shared site, about how this youth had wrestled with the “sin” of same-sex attraction and came out heterosexual. Seeing the article, I posted several other articles and papers to basically move it to the archive. What was seen in the youth, is either a) someone just exploring, has nothing to do with “sin”…that is trying to figure out who they are; or b) were on the spectrum, and finally decided simply to conform so she would not lose her place of belonging within her youth group than be truly who she was created to be and lose the ability to belong. This was what was termed a primitive baptist church, and brought a literal reading lens without context to worship and the scriptures.

These would be the same that would point to the Hebrew Bible book of Leviticus’ sexual laws and say–see it says kill the homosexual. Except a) the term did not exist in the time of Leviticus, and b) the challenge had more to do with a people coming out of slavery-bondage-exile in Babylon-Assyria that had temple practices that forced people into sexual relations with priests and animals. Not a healthy loving sexual identity, or even speaking to how one is created. For all of humanity is created in the Holy’s image (Imageo Dei) which means the entire sexual identity spectrum is within that creation and part of the Imageo Dei. This can be proven through two other examples. One is that Fundamentalists will use the Hebrew Bible story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah to prove their Queer hate because in the story the group of men wanted to anally rape amongst other violence upon the visiting angels, Lot’s reaction was to offer up his daughters to the mob. Due to this for many centuries the act of anal sex, and anal rape were cover under the term sodomy, which perpetuated the bad reading of what the story was about and what led to the destruction. It is in the book of the prophet, Ezekiel that the prophet points out it is injustice, in hospitality, and abuse that led to their destruction… and it is used as a warning for society that by not caring for the least of these, by commodifying sexual relations, by accepting abuse, and by allowing power to dehumanize it will continue with a cycle of destruction (y’know or we could say the porn industry now, or reality dating television). Truly, nothing to do with same sex attraction and love. For the Christian Testament you need to get into the Epistles, and the one that is usually the go to is Paul’s to the Romans. It speaks of not acting against one’s created nature, it points out that those who are made cis-gendered are having sex with those of the same gender. This was speaking directly to a norm in Roman society where an older adult (usually males) would make a “adult” (man) out of a child by raping them…which is an abhorrent practice and behaviour, it was also pointing out things like incest, abuse of power to force sexual relationships…hmm… seeing a pattern? Does it have anything to do with the sexual spectrum? Or about humanity’s inhumanity.

Our world, and understanding of what it means to be neighbour is changing. Hopefully through evolution, and healthy spirituality/religion into something better, which lends itself to the symbolism of a ban on Conversion Therapy, and at the levels that can make true bans of the practice need to follow through (especially those that claim to believe in God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit). I know personally that the change is happening, though to still have these conversations in 2019 is tiring, especially when another life time ago, I was writing:

Love Transcends All

The era of 1996 was not an especially good time in history for Queer-hate, and coming out as an ally from a teen page columnist did short circuit my career path with that specific newspaper due to the high volume of death threats directed my ways, and a very skittish insurance company. Yet I still stand by my words, and hold to it. When it comes to love, between consenting adults in equality, I stand by Trudeau Sr. when he decriminalized homosexuality in Canada, “The nation does not belong in the bedroom of the people”.

For the religious who are still struggling, look to the words of Jesus, Love as he loved us. Look to the fruit of the relationship: is it edifying, is it supportive, does it allow love to flourish, does it allow for the people involved to be the best they are created to be?

So what is in a ban?

A time to pause, reflect, celebrate in the affirmation of neighbour as an Imageo Dei, and releasing our own biases, hates and indifference. It is 2020 and time to move forward…truly….

Consider that in the history of many worlds, there have always been disposable creatures. They do the dirty work. They do the work that no one else wants to do because it’s too difficult or too hazardous. And an army of Datas, all disposable… You don’t have to think about their welfare, you don’t think about how they feel. Whole generations of disposable people.

-Guinan (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 2, Ep. 9 “Measure of a Man“).

1989 Star Trek once again explored a topic as old as time itself, and as recent as ones own Twitter feed today. What makes a person? That is how does one know they are equal with others whom they exist with. Now one will say the Charter of Rights and Freedoms dictates we are all equal. Yet is that the praxis within Canada?

Just as in this episode where an overzealous researcher tries to claim Lt. Commander Data as nothing more than property that can be experimented on. It leads to a trial that pits Picard and Riker against one another in the debate of whether or not Data is sentient.

Now one will argue, we already know all humans are sentient. That may be a fact, but is it a practice?

I look to Toronto, Ontario’s St. Michael’s College sexual assault this past week. Parents responses to the media were not gratitude in discovering a barbaric and horrific practice (sodomizing a student with a broom handle that went viral on social media); but attacked the media for besmirching their student and school’s reputation by breaking a story the school itself had not reported to police. Let that sink in, a child raped, and a school covers up. Parental response is not anger at the institution, but at the media who advocated for the victim.

Is the victim sentient? Seen as having the same rights as the alleged rapists? What does parental and school response tell us?

Same as official opposition leader in Alberta, Jason Kenney (leader of the United Conservative Party) stating he would “keep an open mind” in regards to a ban on conversion therapy if it is brought forward in the sitting of the Alberta Legislature.

Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987)What is conversion therapy? A process to remove same-sex attraction by any means. In essence it is convincing the individual to deny who they are. And yes it is barbaric.

But one party won’t stand with equality, and sentience of all. Rather they are willing to “keep an open mind”. That in itself speaks volumes.

We pretend we are enlightened. We pretend we are better than others by throwing labels around.

But as a society have we moved much beyond the overzealous researched who sees Data as less than, and as such not as equal as others?

Does the quote of Guinan when applied to our world make sense to you?

We still have a false hierarchy of disposability. May not be along the lines of slavery as overtly presented by Guinan, but it still is there.

It is not about challenging another’s beliefs. It is about moving into the understanding of shared equality, and that no one is less than or disposable. No one is property as the episode put it.

As one contemplates stories they hear in the media, and are ready to respond in haste or anger or defense…just once…take time and consider the humanity involved.