In “Politics and the English language,” George Orwell wrote, “political writing is bad writing” because “the great enemy of clear language is insincerity.”
Orwell would probably have a lot to say about recent media coverage of a successful effort by LGBT activists to ban “conversion therapy for minors - the controversial practice of trying to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity” in Broward County, Florida.
In a report by Miami’s WLRN, we see the clichéd and vague styles that worried Orwell. WLRN quotes LGBT activist Tony Lima who says, “We need to be able to as a county send a strong message that we are inclusive, that we are loving, that we are protective of their authentic selves.”
This statement regurgitates unclear language used by national gay rights groups in every town, county, and state where they have fought against “conversion therapy.” Fines of $250-$500 will result if people seek to change the sexual orientation of minors, even if the minor or the minor’s parents asked for such help.
The U.S. Dept. of Justice reports that 17% of males are sexually abused as minors, overwhelmingly by other males. Nobody claims that 17% of all men are gay, so tens of millions of men will have homosexual history but not necessarily a homosexual future. One must wonder if “authentic” or “loving” policies should silence discussion with such men about their conflicted feelings and anger over what has happened. Many, including therapists and former homosexuals whom I have interviewed (see here, here, here, and here) see a valuable message to offer such individuals: the act of abuse does not define them forever.
Univisión’s introduction to its report on the subject acknowledges the controversy, but subsequently only includes the LGBT lobby’s position on the issue.
ILIA CALDERON, ANCHOR, UNIVISION: Some therapists believe that the method can make a homosexual person change their sexual orientation, but other experts affirm that this therapy is harmful and that it doesn’t work. From Miami, Danay Rivero tells us why Broward County would ban the controversial psychological treatment and would even impose fines on those who try to practice it.
Calderón’s characterization of the issue starts out by implicitly accepting the often-repeated claim that homosexuality is an “orientation” - a part of a person’s identity like race, sex, or religion. Experts still have no strong evidence from science or cultural history. Direct testimonials vary. Some people never changed their sexual patterns while others who engaged in homosexual activity went on to live normal heterosexual lives (I count among the latter.) Neither Calderón nor Univision correspondent Danay Rivero acknowledge in their reporting the fact that many who seek “conversion therapy” suffered trauma or want to overcome obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors that are themselves harmful.
Univision’s Rivero interviews Dr. Lisset Ivery, who contends that reparative therapy is “very harmful” since “from infancy as a child you already begin to form your gender identity…and if the person is having some psychological disorder, then what you do is identify the disease that the person is suffering.”
Rivero also interviews pro-gay conversion ban Arianna Linto, a “Trans-Latina activist” who in her interview mentions that almost 41% of suicides by LGBTs are by people who have mental problems.
Both Ivery’s and Linto’s claims are disputable. Even if we accepted them, the Broward ban makes little sense. Such a high rate of mental problems co-existing with LGBT lifestyles looks rather like co-morbidity. It would seem that new policy actions should focus on changing whatever this network of individuals does that causes so much dysfunction and unhappiness.
Interestingly, Univisión’s report centers around the case of a self-described trans schizophrenic, Kathy Morón who says she has tried to kill herself twice. It is unclear why Broward County would in effect want to only surround Morón with people whose suicide rates and mental health pose so much danger.
Missing from Univision’s report? Perspective from experts like David Pickup, a well-known reparative therapist in Dallas and co-plaintiff in the federal case, Vazzo v. the City of Tampa, suing over a similar ban. In an interview with MRC Latino, Pickup said Americans cannot promote inclusion, protection, authenticity, or love by banning and penalizing people who help clients deal with unwanted homosexual feelings. Instead, Pickup sees such laws as violations of free trade, parents’ rights, patients’ rights, and religious rights.
Pickup describes himself as an authentic reparative therapist, as opposed to the quackery so often reported and vilified by the liberal media. “I don’t do any of the things that they claim reparative therapy is – no shaming, electroshock, or forcing.” He assesses the individual’s belief system. If the person firmly believes he was born gay and it is part of who he is, then Pickup will not pursue reparative therapy though he knows there is no gay gene. He does this work “only if that person believes that his homosexual feelings have arisen not by a gene but by emotional and/or sexual abuse.”
In addition to failing to present opposition to the new county ordinance by therapists like Pickup, Univision also ignored peer-reviewed research that also contradicts the claim that people are born gay and never change.
Also lost in their coverage is the special risk to their target audience: Latinos are more likely than non-Latino whites to be fatherless, incarcerated, or in placement by Child Protective Services. These are situations that tend to coincide with less than constant supervision and potential misconduct by a high-risk individual who can get them alone (for example, a mother’s boyfriend).
In other words, they are more likely to be in situations where they could experience same-sex abuse and might need a therapist like David Pickup to assist them in avoiding lifelong behaviors that would allow their abusers to force on them a homosexual life they do not, and should not, want for themselves.
Below is the complete transcript of the above-referenced report, which aired last January 4, 2018 during Noticiero Univision, Late Night Edition.
ILIA CALDERÓN, ANCHOR, NOTICIERO UNIVISION: A South Florida County is considering banning gay conversion therapy. Some therapists believe that the method can make a homosexual person change their sexual orientation, but other experts affirm that this therapy is harmful and that it doesn’t work. From Miami, Danay Rivero tells us why Broward County would ban the controversial psychological treatment and would even impose fines on those who try to practice it.
DANAY RIVERO, CORRESPONDENT, UNIVISION: After a tireless struggle, in 2015 the Supreme Court finally recognized marriage between people of the same sex in the United States, a moment many had for years been waiting for. But there are still certain challenges for the LGBT community. One of them: conversion therapies. Kathy Morón suffered them firsthand.
KATHY MORON: Well, I suffered quite a bit because in some places they do not treat you as we should be treated and meanwhile I have always tried changing places in order to feel better.
DANAY RIVERO, CORRESPONDENT, UNIVISION: Morón says that from a very early age she identified with the female gender and not male, as she had been born. Since then, she received countless therapies which tried to change the way she perceived her sexuality, instead of helping her. A controversial practice that Broward County in Florida is now trying to ban. Some experts on the subject assure that this type of therapy can be very dangerous.
DR. LISSET IVERY, MENTAL HEALTH: It’s very harmful, because the person, from infancy as a child you already begin to form your gender identity, and you treat it as such, and if the person is having some psychological disorder, then what you do is identify the disease that the person is suffering.
DANAY RIVERO, CORRESPONDENT, UNIVISION: Nine states in the country have adopted laws that ban conversion therapy for underage children. Experts assure that providing a person with the inappropriate therapy can lead them into depression and even into trying to take their life.
ARIANNA LINT, CEO, TRANSLATINA ACTIVIST: In the LGBT community, more than 41%, almost half of LGBT suicides, are by people who have mental problems.
DANAY RIVERO, CORRESPONDENT, UNIVISION: More than three decades have passed and Kathy Morón still feels the effects of the conversion therapies, which is why she expects that this Tuesday the practice will be prohibited in her county.
KATHY MORON: I am schizophrenic. I've had two suicide attempts, and I am trying to move on out of all that.
DANAY RIVERO, CORRESPONDENT, UNIVISION: If conversion therapy is banned and a professional practices it, he will be fined $250.