Can psychotherapy change sexual orientation?
*Written for my Psychology 2 reaction assignment
The topic of homosexuality being a psychiatric or psychological issue has become a taboo discussion, criticizing therapists as being homophobic or prejudice. Many homosexuals struggle with rejection, violence, hatred, and shame for their orientation. When a field of professionals label sexual orientation as an illness or deviation as a result of a developmental defect, it is harmful and dangerous.
Research has shown that homosexuality in animals is more common than we thought. There have been discoveries of homosexual behavior in animals in more than 10% of species throughout the world in over 450 different animals (Yale Scientific). The existence of particular animals displaying homosexual behavior is not only prevalent but may also be an evolutionary advantage by strengthening social bonds and reducing competition.
The human species is obviously more complex than animals when you factor our environment, upbringing, and many other aspects make our lives much more diverse. That being said, how can animals exhibiting homosexual behavior be compared to humans? It simply cannot be a logical comparison; therefore stating that homosexuality is psychiatric for a human does not make sense when you include other species. You don’t look at the two beautiful male giraffes necking one another at the zoo and think, “what is wrong with them?” In nature, it is not an obscure thing to see two same-sex creatures together.
In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) made history by removing homosexuality from the list of mental illnesses. However, forty years later, the LGBTQ community is still struggling with achieving that reality as they are denied services, rights, employment and so on. The APA continues to advocate for the homosexual community, opposing conversion therapy and opposing the Trump Administration ban on qualified trans-gender people serving in the military (Human Rights Campaign).
Efforts to change homosexual orientation lack medical justification since it cannot be considered a pathological condition (Gantt). Sexual orientation has a natural variation that is not harmful, nor does it have any effect on those around them. Conversion therapy, a pseudoscientific practice of trying to change an individual’s sexual orientation, is a dangerous and discredited practice.
In biblical times, being left-handed was a curse and a weakness. Throughout history, children were forced to use their right hand. Sinister is the Latin word for left-handed and was considered a defect and a carrier of misfortune. Attempts to treat this “defect” resulted in humiliation and learning difficulties (Gantt). When you think about how ridiculous this seemed, consider how ridiculous it is to ridicule any species for their sexual orientation.
Fereydooni, A. (2012). Do Animals Exhibit Homosexuality? Yale Scientific. Retrieved from: http://www.yalescientific.org/2012/03/do-animals-exhibit-homosexuality/
Gantt, E. (2018). Taking Sides, Clashing Views on Psychological Issues. United States: McGraw-Hill Education.
Human Rights Campaign. (2019). Retrieved from: http://hrc.org/blog/flashbackfriday-today-in-1973-the-apa-removed-homosexuality-from-list-of-me