Report from a Conference in Hungary, by Anglican Mainstream correspondent:
The international conference was entitled: In Search of Identity as Man and Woman: How can we offer help to those that struggle?
Current groupthink in Western societies is that you can choose from more than one hundred genders (at the last count). Allied to this ideology is the idea that whatever you feel sexually should be experienced, that you must embrace too the directions of your attractions if you want fulfilment, and that you don’t get to decide who you are. And if that isn’t mad enough, your sexuality is in effect, micromanaged by the experts who tell you want you can and can’t do sexually! LGBT activists and legislators get to do that. Or they try to! Sounds ridiculous? Read on for the facts.
The subject of gender and sexual orientation in popular culture is littered with slogans and uncritical assumptions about identity and how we are meant to live, if we are to be fulfilled. This ideology assumes that not all adults are competent enough to make their own choices about their identity and relationships, but it’s the experts who decide what is right for their life. Sounds strange? Surely mental health practitioners are forbidden by their Professional Codes of Ethics to take it upon themselves to judge what is right or wrong for people’s private lives? In theory, yes, but it really depends on whether your issues are on the current political radar. There were so many strands to this conference and the issues it broaches, and what impressed me is the reliance on evidence and science to support its claims and ethos.
We must ask: do all people find fulfilment equally in the same things? The emerging ‘orthodoxy’ is that identities and behaviours associated with minority gender and sexual orientation groups must be embraced, if fulfilment is to be found. But surely this undermines one of the foundational values of the West, namely, individual liberty?
IFTCC Chairman Mike Davidson speaks to Lifesite News
Which groups are we talking about here? For example, the conference I attended considered people who feel confused about their gender identity, can be pressured into embracing or are expected to acquire a transgender identity. Such individuals who may ultimately have administered to them sex change hormones, and go through surgery, are not told the full adverse health implications. The Conference didn’t focus on this physical medical impact, but there is now well documented research showing the harmful consequences on the body, fertility and lifespan.
There was one man who spoke movingly of the fact that he received only three NHS consultations before heading for surgery to remove his genitals. When waking from the operation, he was at first euphoric, then huge regret set in very quickly, and he soon turned suicidal. There was absolutely no automatic counselling support planned for this man, and he was told it was his responsibility to see his GP. Mainstream media have so glamorised this topic that we hear little of the anguish of these men and women who have their lives wrecked. The LGBT zealots massively fear stories of this kind being publicised, because their stock in trade is to sell their ‘perfect’ ideology that is meant to bring happiness, and to silence all ideas and experiences that call into question their beliefs. This is dangerous dogma that is destroying people in the name of an ideology.
A woman also spoke of when, aged 8, her father told her that he was becoming a woman. This experience shattered her emotionally. She was disturbed when she found her clothes were being stolen: her father would somehow use them himself. He eventually left the family, and only as an adult, did this brave woman come to terms with what her father did, and to forgive him for what was a painful abandonment. Do we hear these stories in the mainstream press? Again, we only hear the so-called “happy stories” of transition. It may be that some people are happy once they “transition” (who am I to say?) but her father said after his operation, that he didn’t’ feel the fulfilment that he expected. I am of the view that change can only come from the inside, not from outward, surgical castration and hormonal injections.
Another central question of the conference concerned those individuals who experience unwanted same sex attraction (SSA), many of whom have tried living as gay but found it unfulfilling. It simply didn’t work for them. The gay label doesn’t chime with who they think they are. Why are the LGBT activists so intolerant of this idea? Why do they hate the voices of ex-gays and their testimonies so much? Why do they want to silence them, often with threats, bullying and sometimes, even death? As far as I am aware, ex-gays who have left the gay scene, don’t place any pressure on gays about leaving their lifestyle, so why the hate?
The problem is that popular culture, and the LGBT activists who have successfully forced their worldview onto others, have dangerously monopolised this field of thought and testimony. In so doing, they have redefined the official stances of professional bodies on matters about therapy or counselling for unwanted SSA. Those offering practical alternatives to this new prescriptive ‘morality’, because they question or choose a different paradigm aligned with their choices, values and needs, are now marginalised by the mental health profession. They might as well not exist as a population, because our culture now disrespects them as bigots, religious fanatics or carriers of internalised homophobia. It should be noted that while many of the people wanting professional help to address unwanted SSA and/or behaviours are religious, there are others who have no faith. We must therefore forgo some of the stereotypes we are fed with daily that this is only about religion. It is not.
The conference organiser, the International Federation for Therapeutic and Counselling Choice (IFTCC) is a multi-disciplinary organisation that supports providers of services to “individuals seeking change of their unwanted relational and sexual behaviours, attractions and patterns.” The IFTCC seeks to preserve the rights of people to access services of support, and the rights of professionals to offer them, while also strongly adhering to professional guidelines for practitioners. The IFTCC respects client autonomy about life choices, and rejects the pressure of political indoctrination that can lead people onto a path of damaging health consequences for life.
Matthew Grech reflects on the dynamics that caused his homosexual attractions and the spiritual journey out of it
The IFTCC is not a religious organisation, which is confirmed by the fact that it supports people of any faith and none. It does however draw its understanding of the body, marriage and the family from a Judeo-Christian anthropology. The IFTCC is not in the business of telling people, who profess to be happily gay or trans, to take another path. Instead, it concerns itself with the freedoms and rights of people who freely seek professional support for either their unwanted SSA, or gender confusion, more generally. It also encourages research in this large field, while keeping close track of global findings.
The IFTCC conference was attended by hundreds of people from 25 countries, with a large group of educators, mental health practitioners, church ministers and others.
Critics of the sort of support the IFTCC provides and advocates, continue using an ill-defined, pretty much meaningless term, so called “conversion therapy” which tells us absolutely nothing about what a therapist or counsellor actually does with a client who has freely chosen to look at issues of their identity and relationships. Therapists working in this field also address what in many cases, concerns past sexual abuse from someone of the same sex. In fact, one of the speakers, Dr Laura Haynes, highlighted an enlightening fact. In 2014, the American Psychological Association (APA), the leading body of psychologists, recognised that some people with unwanted SSA may have developed their attractions as a consequence of their childhood sexual abuse. Note that the APA’s standing extends well beyond the US. Even UK mental health bodies routinely appeal to the authority of the APA on matters of mental health and research.
But aren’t gays born that way? That is a myth we hear peddled relentlessly by LGBT activists and their straight equality supporters who ignore the science. Dr Haynes referenced the APA Handbook of Sexuality and Psychology which explains that SSA isn’t simply biologically caused like skin colour for example, but that psychological influences are always present. Childhood sexual abuse may, for some people, influence the attempt to find satisfaction in same sex relationships. All these conclusions are not ideology but draw on the APA’s review of research, which included a 30 year study that documented childhood sexual abuse cases. Men with documented childhood sexual abuse were 6.75 times more likely to have a same sex partner.
A study this year from Ganna et al, studied genes of nearly half million individuals. Predictably, no gay gene was found. I say predictably, because human sexuality is far too complex to be reduced to a single gene. And let’s note the fact that people can, with or without counselling or therapy support, experience change in their sexual orientation. Think this is only the claims of religious people? Sorry to bust another myth, but no. mainstream science recognises sexuality to be fluid for some people (read Lisa Diamond). In mid-life, some individuals can suddenly find their attractions change.
However, the raging controversy (for LGBT activists) is that someone should want to choose, of their own volition, to explore their gender identity issues more generally, because gayness doesn’t align with who they are. Some hope to be married to the opposite sex, others want to protect their genuine marriage to a member of the opposite sex but find themselves acting out on same sex addictions they don’t want. Others choose celibacy. Yet Western culture, the UK being one such case study, abhors these personal preferences, life-goals, and exercise in liberty. If you are ex-gay, your voice is silenced and hated, much like homosexuals were despised before homosexuality was partially decriminalised in 1967. If LGBT zealots have their way, all change-allowing therapy will be banned by law. In effect, the idea is to micromanage the sexuality and identity of others! All under the deceitful guise of equality and tolerance. Activists attempted unsuccessfully under Theresa May to ban such therapy. The big problem, however, is that legislators are only hearing from LGBT people and their worldview. A real democracy, if it means anything, must listen to diverse groups.
Conference delegates were reminded by a number of speakers that when they speak of “change” in therapy, it doesn’t always mean developing from homosexual to heterosexual. That is too simplistic and misrepresents what happens during, and after, therapy. For some, they experience great change in both their sexual orientation and other psychological issues, including great peace of mind. For others, they see partial but notable changes, along with a reduction in depression and anxiety and better relationships all round with men and women. For another group, no changes to speak of. One speaker pointed out that the talking therapy he employs, doesn’t focus on sexual acts, because there are deeper underlying arises that are at issue. Why? Because the talking therapy is about identity and relationships, not, to put it bluntly, a particular sexual position.
The myths that sound like boring old wives tales that we still hear from fanatical LGBT activists is that people are given electro-shock treatment. Let’s bust this myth now. That hasn’t been done for many decades and, it was used, in fact, for a wide range of other issues too, not just sexuality.
Due to LGBT ideology, the APA doesn’t yet recognise the narrative of ex-gays. Ironically, it has no problem with the fact that some people do actually experience shifts in their sexual attractions. But if someone finds gay life unfulfilling, and chooses to explore trauma and identity issues (these are the common strands looked at), believing that they are not cut out for homosexuality, what then? The APA doesn’t endorse therapy or counselling, unless it is gay-affirmative! Why? The short answer is LGBT ideology.
One central point conveyed by the speakers who specialise in providing professional support, is to help the individual with unwanted SSA to be freed from shame. When this happens, many find self-acceptance, and discover a new capacity to form close male, non-sexual friendships, which they were previously incapable of doing. And for some, as their sense of inner masculinity strengthens, so does their attraction to the opposite sex. Therefore, when change in sexual attraction happens, it is indirect.
Andrea Williams talks about IFTCC from her point of view
Ironically, opponents of change-allowing therapy claim, without a shred of evidence, that the therapy is all about shame. They like pointing to cases (not aligned to professional practice) of say, some religious settings, where people were not treated in desirable ways. They were simply told to “pray” to stop feeling homosexual feelings. The conference speakers see homosexuality as a developmental issue. Whereas, less informed, often well-meaning pastors, fail to consider why someone is homosexual. Their mistake is to only focus on the sin of acting out. It would help if they recognised that the needs of people with unwanted SSA include things like belonging. But, past traumas and identity conflicts can drive some towards the same sex in ways that for them, is unfulfilling and destructive.
One of the often-cited papers alleging that so-called “conversion therapy” is harmful (not discussed at this conference) is an amateurish attempt that would otherwise fail dramatically for methodological reasons, if the subject had been without controversy. But when research is published of this kind, few professionals dare to question it! It is like a one-party state: in academic or medical terms, there is only one view on this topic, while opposing views are treated as promoting hate or harm, and must be silenced as homophobic – so much for freedom of speech!
What shone out from every speaker might be summed as an attitude that respects client autonomy, one of the core foundation stones of all professional practice. It is about listening to their stories, and helping them resolve their traumas and conflicts. If, as a result of this, sexual attractions change, why the fuss?
One of the things I came away with was that the stereotypical assumptions underpinning so-called “conversion therapy” (which is not a term owned by any of the conference speakers) is that this label so misrepresents what practitioners actually do. I learned that the interactions between practitioner and client are based on talking therapies, absolutely no different from when people go for support for any other issue. The term “change-allowing therapy” seems best, and, is what this is really about.
At the close of the conference, an important Declaration about freedom for clients and therapists was signed by speakers and delegates. One of the closing remarks stayed with me: David Pickup, a therapist and leading voice that advocates for client and practitioner rights, reminded us that most people know someone in their wider family who may identify as gay. He said that when the day comes that every family knows someone who is ex-gay, that is when society will change its overall attitudes. And change it must, for the sake of freedom!