CONVERSION therapy almost killed me. Starting from age 14, I was subjected to a cruel and sustained campaign at the hands of my mother to deny my sexuality, which lasted for years. I almost took my own life when I was still a child because I couldn’t bear the impossible situation I was in. I was suicidal for most of my teenage years, and when I wasn’t suicidal I was depressed, anxious, or bulimic.

After moving away from home for university I was able to escape the treatment I had become used to, and I realised what happened to me wasn’t normal or right. I was finally able to cut off ties and to access the help and therapy I needed (and had been denied) to begin to process what I went through. I still have PTSD and I likely will for the rest of my life; I take pills every day and I still wake up screaming from nightmares most nights. Conversion therapy robbed me of my childhood, my family and my home.

When I was 14 I would have loved it if I could have been converted. I learned gay people existed and gay people were evil in the same sentence. I was raised knowing that being gay was not an option. So I would have given anything to avoid the situation I inevitably faced as a young teenager; as my mum put it, “I don’t have a gay son”.

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My choice was clear: I could be gay, or I could remain part of the family, but I couldn’t do both. Do you not think that I would have kept my family and avoided the misery of the next few years if I could have changed my sexuality? But conversion therapy does not work. It is impossible to change fundamentally unchangeable aspects of yourself, no matter how much hatred or cruelty is thrown your way.

Gay people exist. Homophobes don’t like that, but take my word for it - we cannot be changed, converted, or cured. Attempts to change us are rooted in hatred, not reality, and they need to be banned. So why should it be different for trans people facing the same fate as I did? Trans people exist. Transphobes don’t like that but no amount of “therapy” is going to stop a trans person from being trans. Trying to stop trans people from being trans is conversion therapy and it is based on the exact same hatred that almost cost me my life.

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Support would not be prohibited under proposed conversion therapy bans. Lots of people struggle with their sexuality or their gender identity and need help processing that. I did. The affirmative therapy I received after escaping conversion therapy helped me come to terms with being gay. That’s what affirmative therapy is, and a conversion therapy ban would not ban that.

What a ban would try to stop is non-affirmative therapy: therapy that has a preferred or desired outcome, namely conversion. Imagine I was sent to a therapist whose job it was to make me ‘feel comfortable in heterosexuality’ - would you not call that conversion therapy? A therapist who is intending to make someone ‘feel comfortable in their birth sex’ when they are trans is a conversion therapist.

Listen to survivors when we say this: end conversion therapy in all of its forms. I’m one of the lucky ones. I made it out. Remember all of the stories you are not hearing, from people without my privilege or this platform, and from the many many people who didn’t survive or who didn’t make it out.