Heteronormative Violence of Mainstream Psychiatry: A Cautionary Tale
In 2013, California became the first state to pass legislation banning licensed professionals from trying to change the sexual orientation of minors from homosexual to heterosexual. In 2014, similar legislation passed in New Jersey, with other states, including New York, Massachusetts, and Ohio, following suit. However, “reparative therapy,” which grew in popularity with psychiatry’s increased medicalization of same sex erotic desire throughout the 20th century, is hardly a practice of a bygone era. In June 2014, the Republican Party endorsed the support of reparative therapy in Texas, while organizations such as the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality continue “treating” homosexual men and women in an effort to change their sexual desires to heterosexuality–all with dire consequences to individuals undergoing such treatments.
I was in a form of reparative therapy in British Columbia, Canada, for six years, after which I filed a medical malpractice suit against my former psychiatrist, “Dr. Alfonzo,” for treating my homosexuality as a disease. If these new laws are to be criticized, it is that the use of “change” therapies on people older than 18 should be prohibited as well. I was 24 when I met Dr. Alfonzo, 31 when I left his therapy, and almost 40 when the lawsuit ended in an out-of-court settlement in 2002. Nearly twenty years after leaving the therapy, I am still affected by the consequences of those six years of “treatment.”