Legislators Push to Prohibit Gender Identity Counseling

Jun 6, 2017

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.

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