Legislators Push to Prohibit Gender Identity Counseling

Jun 6, 2017

BOSTON -- Today the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities (chaired by Representative Kay Khan and Senator Jennifer Flanagan) held a hearing on H1190, an overly broad piece of legislation that would prohibit an entire class of patients from accessing the talk therapy, labeled “sexual orientation change efforts” (SOCE), they desire. The legislation prohibits any social worker, doctor, counselor, or human service professional from engaging in therapy that attempts to aid a minor in a desired change in sexual orientation or gender identity from a LGBT supportive position. This is referred to as a “Counseling Ban Bill.”

Liberty Counsel submitted testimony against the legislation, authored by Rep. Khan, and co-sponsored by 81 Massachusetts legislators, which uses the claim of abuse to abolish legitimate psychological practices that involve nothing more than talking to a patient. Even worse, because the penalties are folded in under Massachusetts’ child abuse code, if a parent indulges the desire of her child to speak with a psychologist, that conversation would give the state a pretext to permanently take her children, deny her access to them and place them in a foster home of the state’s choosing. As a result, H1190 denies patients access to treatment of their choice and forces physicians to violate the confidentiality of the patient-physician relationship.

H1190 also restricts legitimate psychological responses to gender identity disorder under guidelines established in 2012 by the American Psychological Association. It prohibits treatments that, despite over a decade of scrutiny, have never been prohibited by any major medical association in the United States. It asserts that the state knows better than the patient, the parent and the physician what is medically necessary in every possible situation.

The claims of authority which H1190 contain extend beyond any similar piece of legislation in this nation by punishing “efforts to change behaviors” as child abuse, despite the fact that no medical association in the United States has ever called the practice abusive. In fact, after examining all research conducted on the subject in the last 60 years, the American Psychological Association has concluded in 2009 that “there are no scientifically rigorous studies [that]…make a definitive statement about whether or not recent SOCE is safe or harmful” as to minors.

Walt Heyer realized his “sex reassignment surgery” was a grave mistake after embracing a relationship with Jesus Christ. In testifying against the bill, Heyer stated, “People struggle with gender identity issues. Many also have social adjustment issues or sexual fetishes. This is not often addressed because it’s not classy. Still, about 100 percent of the time individuals struggling with gender dysphoria are self-diagnoses – tracing their confusion back to prior traumatic incidents in their life that led to this identity disorder. To take away the most effective talk therapies under the guise of fictitious abuse is a heartless removal of the only effective balm to heal their broken identity.”

“The government has no business sitting in on the confidential relationship between a counsel and a client,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. “This is a harmful piece of legislation. H1190 would deny minors and their families the appropriate counseling to help with their gender confusion. This is another action from the pro-LGBT activists that are caught in gender delusion,” said Staver.

Liberty Counsel is an international nonprofit, litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics.