Gay rights advocates push for ban on conversion therapy for minors in Colorado

Transgender birth certificate update also proposed
Posted at 6:03 PM, Feb 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-27 20:03:47-05

Can you be converted from gay to straight?

Despite virtually no scientific evidence to show it can be done, it's still legal in Colorado.

It’s called conversion therapy, and there's a renewed effort to ban the practice for minors in Colorado.

It is illegal to practice the therapy on minors in California, Oregon, Illinois, New York, New Jersey and Vermont.

“My experiences were really rough,” said conversion therapy survivor Cooper Benson.

Benson says – for him – it started when he was a freshman in high school through his freshman year of college.

“All the efforts were focused on removing my same sex attraction, is what they referred to it as,” Benson said.

That included shaming him - his thoughts, the way he talked, the way he walked - in an effort to reprogram him to like girls.

“Trying to demonize the orientation itself and get you to switch,” Benson said.

Because of that ongoing issue - a group of hundreds of LGBTQ advocates met Monday at Denver’s Central Presbyterian Church.

Their goal: pass a law that would ban conversion therapy in Colorado, citing it as archaic and cruel and unusual.

“It’s still legal, yeah. There are only (some) states and (Washington, D.C.) that have bans on conversion therapy,” said Daniel Ramos, spokesman for One Colorado.

This is the third year this group has tried to pass this bill. It has bi-partisan support in the House, but stumbles in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Benson says it’s not just those who are gay that pay the price.

“They convinced my parents that it was their fault,” he said. “And so they have a lot of guilt surrounding that. So, I don’t really blame them that much because they’re as much victims as I am. No one should ever go through it. It’s absolutely horrible.”

The U.S. Surgeon General's Office has said there is “no valid scientific evidence” behind the practice and the American Psychiatric Association opposes the treatment, describing it as unethical.

Activists also pushed for a bill that would make it much easier for transgender people to change their gender on their birth certificates to more accurately reflect the gender that people truly identify with.

"Currently in Colorado, a transgender person has to have surgery - then must go before a judge and prove they had the surgery in order to get an updated birth certificate," Ramos said.

The proposed law would remove the surgery requirement and the court order from the judge.

A person would just have to work with his or her doctor and mental health provider to make the gender update on a birth certificate.


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