Conversion therapy consultation extended!

Take action. Respond to the consultation.

We asked you to tell your MP to #presspause on the conversion therapy consultation. Thousands of you did, they listened, and we’ve got what was needed: an extension of eight weeks. 

The next step is to get as many people as possible to respond to the consultation and we have created some tools to help you do this. Have your say in this crucial window of opportunity to protect parents, teachers, therapists and children. 

Flawed and controversial

Rushing this important consultation was flawed and controversial. Over 2,500 people wrote to their MPs through our website asking them to #presspause. There have been questions in Parliament and widespread coverage in the media. Fair Play For Women also threatened legal action.

The proposals combine and conflate sexual orientation with transgender identification, and threaten to criminalise teachers, parents and therapists.

Many MPs were made aware of the issues with the proposed law for the first time through messages from their constituents, hundreds of them including moving personal experiences. Many people said this was the first time they had contacted their MP about anything. 

Great care is needed

While many MPs gave stock responses, some of our supporters received excellent responses. 

One MP stated:

“…This is being rushed and I cannot understand why the usual 12-week consultation period has suddenly been halved. I am making this point urgently to ministers.”

Another said:

“I appreciate the concerns you have set out regarding advice given to children and young people who are considering transitioning to a different gender. I agree that great care is needed to avoid a new ban having unintended consequences or extending to cover legitimate counselling services of the kind you mention.”

Social contagion

There were so many heartfelt, articulate and personal messages sent to MPs through the Sex Matters website. With permission, we are publishing a selection of these below.

Parents shared their concerns that exploratory talk therapy could be seen as conversion therapy and therefore inaccessible. 

“There is no comparison between young people discovering their sexuality and young people using hormones and surgery to reject their bodies. It makes it frightening and worrying to look for help if you think all the experts will simply affirm your child as trans and never explore the underlying issues that leads a child to feel dysphoria about their body.”

“I’m a parent of a secondary school age child. At our school there are around 15 children who have decided to opt out of their biological sex in one friendship group in one academic year. This is social contagion.

Those with direct experience of supporting family members shared how essential open discussion of the possibilities was. 

“I have direct experience of the damage transgender ideology can cause. My older daughter (now 16) declared a trans identity at 13. It has been a very difficult and painful few years as we sought a way to handle this sensitively, when all around us people were pushing us to ‘trans’ her as if there was no alternative.

Had we not been careful as a family to take time to explore the issues safely she would now, I am certain, be on experimental and damaging puberty blockers and in all likelihood on a pathway towards double mastectomy and lifelong cross-sex hormones. All of this without sound medical evidence to back it up.”

Devastating consequences

Gender non-conformists could see the danger of affirmation-only models of therapy that they would have been swept up into, with devastating consequences for their long-term health and happiness.

“I was a gender non-conforming teen and young person myself. I was very alienated from aspects of myself one could call ‘feminine’, I wanted to get as far away from them as possible… I may have ended up with a trans identity. … [which] leads down a particular path and that path is medical intervention, sometimes with sterilisation.

I can tell you with one hundred percent surety I would have regretted it because as a forty year old lesbian I am comfortable with my sex, I am happily married and my partner and I are desperately trying to have a baby. Eighteen year old me could never have envisaged that this is what forty year old me would have wanted!

Lawyers, academics, mental health professionals, teachers and physicians also wrote in their hundreds, highlighting areas of concern relating to their expertise.

I am a lawyer and extremely concerned at the loose drafting of this Bill and its potentially far-reaching consequences. It is a well intentioned but entirely misconceived piece of legislation. It needs to be halted and only revisited when considerable further, independent research has been done.

“I am very concerned about the proposed legislation to ban ‘conversion therapy’. I am a psychotherapist of many years’ standing, and I am very concerned at the lack of definition and therefore possibility of misunderstanding to which any attempt to ban such an ill-defined practice may well give rise.”

Professor Alan Sokal explains the issues regarding the lack of definitions in his submission to the consultation.

What next?

This legislation was due to be rushed through without proper scrutiny, and no easy reading version. Thanks to the thousands of people who contacted their MPs and the actions of Fair Play For Women there is now time for more people to fill in the consultation, and raise awareness of the pitfalls, especially among the teachers, schools and parents this could affect. 

This is so important and your voice matters.

We will be writing to all MPs again this week. We will share our briefing to MPs and we hope you will write to them again.