Counseling Ban Legislation Confronted with Reality of Changed Lives

Massachusetts Family Institute | News Release


CONTACT:   Andrew Beckwith | [email protected] | 781.569.0400


Tuesday, June 6, 2017

BOSTON – The Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities heard testimony today on two identical bills that would interfere with the rights of children to receive counseling for unwanted sexual feelings or gender confusion.  Senate Bill 62 and House Bill 1190, both titled “An Act relative to abusive practices to change sexual orientation and gender identity in minors,” were opposed by a number of mental health professionals, pastoral counselors and individuals who have been greatly helped by the very type of counseling these bills would ban.

The legislation in question would prohibit licensed mental health professionals from practicing what it refers to as “sexual orientation and gender identity change efforts,” on persons under 18 years of age. Opponents of the bills argue that this language is extremely broad and violates the rights of patients and therapists to pursue desired treatment. For example, the proposed legislation would ban even “efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions.”

Timothy Nee, a Masschusetts resident who benefited from this type of therapy, told the committee, “I am thankful for the counseling I received in my life, and I believe the government, although they may be well intentioned, should allow people their private decisions and be pro-choice on this issue.”

Pointing to his wife and daughter who accompanied him to the hearing, Frank Agundes of West Springfield said, “As a result of the counseling I received, I am now a happily married man to the most beautiful woman alive and a daddy to the most adorable newborn girl!”

Counselors opposing the bills spoke of how many of the people they work with have suffered sexual abuse as young children, and that trauma often contributes to unwanted sexual feelings. “H.1190 is in fact child abuse,” said David Pickup, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and nationally recognized expert on this type of treatment, warning that the bill would “violate the rights of heterosexual children to receive therapy specifically for unwanted homosexual feelings caused by sexual abuse from pedophiles.”

Proponents of this legislation claimed that it is necessary to decrease the risk of suicide for LGBT youth, but Walt Heyer, who underwent gender reassignment surgery in the late 1980s, said the reality is just the opposite. “Six years into my life as a woman, I attempted suicide,” he explained as he recounted his personal journey. “Thanks to some extensive and effective psychotherapy my transgender feelings dissipated completely. After eight years of living as a woman, I joyfully returned to my male gender over twenty years ago.”

A statement from Dr. Michelle Cretella, President of the American College of Pediatricians, warned of other health risks that this bill would expose children to: “HB 1190 requires therapists affirm young children with gender dysphoria as transgender which guarantees minors will be permanently sterilized under the guise of treating a condition that would otherwise resolve in up to 95% of them with therapy that either affirms biological sex or promotes watchful waiting. This is criminal.”

Massachusetts Family Institute President Andrew Beckwith stressed that although similar legislation has recently made progress in Connecticut and Rhode Island, the Massachusetts bills are much more aggressive.

“These bills would label treatment that some people profoundly benefit from as ‘child abuse’ under Massachusetts law.  For example, if a fourteen-year-old girl suffers from gender identity confusion, current law allows her to get puberty blockers and testosterone injections, but if these bills pass, it would be ‘child abuse’ to counsel that same young women to simply feel comfortable in her own healthy body, and state authorities could remove her from her home,” said Beckwith.

Massachusetts Family Institute is a non-profit research, education and public policy organization dedicated to strengthening the institution of the family and affirming the Judeo-Christian values upon which the family is based.


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