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Thoughts on sexual orientation and gender identity.

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Leelah's Law

Posted on January 10, 2015 at 7:40 PM Comments comments (0)

On Sunday, December 27th, 2014, Ohio transgender seventeen year old Leelah (Josh) Alcorn took her life after years of psychological abuse and neglect by her evangelical parents. But before she did so, she penned a powerful note to her friends, family and the world, asking them to "fix the world" that drove her to end her life.

 

One of the things her parents did was to send her to a "reparative" or "conversion" therapist, who essentially tried to brainwash and bully the "trans" out of Leelah. These so-called therapies have been roundly criticized by the American Psychological Association, the American Counseling Association, and the American Psychiatric Association, among others, as being extremely harmful and having no therapeutic value at all. All are based on conservative religious principles and have no basis in science or research.

 

The public outcry was immediate and powerful. Major figures in the gay and trans communities have called for her parents to face criminal charges for what they put her through. In addition to the "therapy," she was being given illegally high doses of anti-depressant medications, ones that include warnings about their use for adolescents, given that they increase the likelihood of suicidal thoughts.

 

The other immediate demand was for a national law mirroring those already in place in California, New Jersey, and Washington DC prohibiting the use of reparative/conversion "therapy" for minors. Two petitions were started, one on Whitehouse.gov and the other on change.org, calling for the creation of "Leelah's Law" in her memory. The Change.org petition was the fastest growing petition of 2014. Please support the creation of this badly needed law, and help save more transgender teen lives. Write your legislators and let them know how you feel about it.

 

Visit www.leelahslaw.com for more information. Watch the many videos about Leelah on You Tube, and do a Google search for additional information.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who was Harry Benjamin?

Posted on June 20, 2010 at 2:23 PM Comments comments (0)

Harry Benjamin, MD was a pioneering transgender researcher in the mid-20th century. He was the first to understand the true nature of what it means to be transgender. Dr. Benjamin is considered a hero by many in the field, and by many transgender people. He worked tirelessly to shed light on the condition and to define effective treatments. His work has been carried on by hundreds of other medical and mental health professionals since his death.

 

The international medical association that deals with transgender issues was once known as the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association, but later changed its name to the World Professional Association for Transgender Health. (www.wpath.org) WPATH is officially recogized by the American Medical Association and therefore has excellent professional credibility.

 

On the internet, you may find references to "Harry Benjamin Syndrome" and the HBS Fact Sheet and HBS Standard of Care. None of these are officially sanctioned. All were created by a group of older transgender men and women who want to end the use of mental health designations (gender dysyphoria) and substitute a purely medical diagnosis using the term Harry Benjamin Syndrome.

 

While the effort is laudable and has the support of many in the trans community, it has little support from WPATH. That's not to say that WPATH's own Standard of Care (SOC) doesn't have a lot in common with the proposed HBS Standard of Care. The general trend is toward the HBS group's ideal, but  the mental health and medical communities are slow to change. Still, you will find many transgender people who prefer the term Harry Benjamin Syndrome (or HBS) simply because it lacks the mental health stigma associated with Gender Dysphoria.

Ex-Gay "Therapy"?

Posted on June 20, 2010 at 1:50 PM Comments comments (0)

The 150,000 member American Psychological Association (APA) has long opposed the idea that one's sexual orientation can be changed by any means, including therapy. Homosexuality was removed from the official list of mental disorders by the APA more than 40 years ago.

 

In August 2009, the APA's governing council voted 125 to 4 to approve a resolution putting itself firmly on record as opposing any so-called "ex-gay" or "reparative" therapies purporting to "correct" homosexuality.  The council issued a comprehensive report built on two years of research on the subject that reviewd 83 studies on sexual orientation change done since 1963. They found no evidence that any of the so-called therapies worked as claimed. In fact, they said that strong evidence exists that such attempts often result in depression and suicidal tendencies.

 

It's informative that the founder of Exodus International, the largest ex-gay therapy proponent in the US, himself gay, eventually quit the organization along with a number of the organization's leaders. He publicly admitted that the therapy is a sham and has no postive effect, and went on to apologize to all those the organization had attempted to treat. Some "ex-gay" groups now admit they cannot change sexual orientation - only help you to live as heterosexual. Some people seem able to do this with some success, but for others it's too much of a stretch.

 

So, if you are gay and religious, what are you to do? Your church is telling you that you can't be gay and a church member. It's a choice between staying deep in the closet, or coming out and rejecting your religion. For the deeply religious that's not much of a choice.

 

The APA recommends that its members counsel patients to consider several options and to be creative in meeting a patient's needs. Some suggestions include:

1. Acknowledge your homsexuality but remain celibate (many churches will accept this)

2. Find another, more accepting church (many exist)

3. Leave the church, but be religious in your own way

 

Mental health professionals who suggest that change is possible should be avoided since such advice runs counter to all accepted research and the positions and professional standards of every major mental health association. Mainstream professionals will play a supportive role and look for ways to help gays to adjust to and accept their orientation without attempting to change it.

Transgender: Out or Not?

Posted on June 20, 2010 at 1:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Transgender people aren’t like gays and lesbians – coming “out of the closet” doesn’t mean the same thing for them. For a gay or lesbian person, it means telling the world (or at least those closest to them) that they want to have open relationships with persons of the same sex. They want these relationships to be considered normal and acceptable.

 

But if you are transgender, you are simply trapped in the wrong body: a male brain in a female body or vice versa. Coming out means telling the world that you have what amounts to a controversial and little understood (by the public and many medical professionals) birth defect. Once you’ve done that, even if you transition to a completely congruent body, you will always be seen as “different” by those who know the whole story.

 

The problem is that unlike gays, transgender people usually don’t want to be seen as different. Gays have a different sexual orientation – most transgenders are heterosexual in accordance with their brain gender. They just want to live lives as typical heterosexual men and women. “Coming out” for them is seen as heading in the wrong direction.

 

Many transgender people I’ve worked with have wanted to make the physical transition to a “new” body as quietly and quickly as possible, without the world knowing. That’s not easy, but a common ploy is to substantially complete the transition, then move to a new job and community for a fresh start. This works best if they “pass” well in their new body.

 

The move from high school to college is a popular time to make the change. Some students begin as soon as they turn 18, assuming they have the financial resources and necessary family support, often during the last year in high school. They might even take a year off to complete the transition, then it’s off to college with their new identity and the chance to build the life they’ve always wanted.

STD Protection Basics

Posted on June 12, 2010 at 3:40 PM Comments comments (0)

• Not having sex is the best way to protect yourself from HIV/STDs.

• Having sex with only one uninfected partner who only has sex with you is also safe.

• Talk to your partner about past sex partners and about needle drug use. Don't have sex with someone who you think might have an STD.

• Before you have sex, look closely at your partner for any signs of STDs: a rash, a sore, warts, or discharge. If you see anything you are worried about DON'T HAVE SEX! (but just because you don't see anything doesn't mean they're healthy - you can't see HIV-AIDS and other STDs.)

• Use a condom for vaginal, anal and oral sex. Condoms will help protect you from STDs MOST of the time.

• Get checked for HIV/STDs regularly Ask your health care provider to help you decide how often and which tests you should have. Clinics like Planned Parenthood often offer free or low-cost services.

• Know the signs and symptoms of STDs. If you notice a symptom that worries you get checked out.

• If you find you have an STD, your past and current partner(s) must get tested and treated too. Save others - tell them!

• If you have an STD, don't have sex until treatment is complete.


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