Right now, there is a fierce debate within the psychotherapeutic and counselling community. Although we all seem to have agreed that conversion therapy is totally unacceptable for lesbian and gay clients we seem to lack agreement on whether the same treatment is appropriate for the trans community.
You may remember the conversion therapy debates back in 2011. Then there was almost unanimous agreement that conversion therapy – that is, therapy specifically designed to change a person’s gender or sexual orientation – was wrong.
Whatever the arguments behind that decision, and there were many – it was shown that conversion therapy was dangerous and that such work had already led to suicides – plus there was the growing realisation that one’s gender or sexual orientation was not a pathology, rather, it was no one else’s business. However once that agreement was made and all the rows were over I was surprised to find that the trans part of LGBT had been somehow left out. When I asked I was told a) “That there is no problem here” and then b) that “we need to do more research”. Now both those answers miss the point.
I must admit that I am no expert on the trans community but I don’t think I have to be.
I am a psychotherapist and our work is based much more on practice than it is in theory and if a practice is unethical for one group then why is that same practice OK for another group?
For instance we all seem to agree that hitting children is not good. But what if someone were to say: “Oh that research has never been carried out on kids with learning difficulties so until we know more, it’s ok to whack ’em”. No one would stand for that – It’s clearly unethical.
We really do not need to know more here. Ethical practice is for everyone. And when we say ‘everyone’ – that includes trans.