VA governor's push to force transgender counseling on kids is smart leftist politics

Joshua Arnold is Media Coordinator for Family Research Council. This article appeared at on August 7, 2019.

Still grappling with the blackface controversy, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam is trying to salvage his political career by banning free speech. It's far savvier than it sounds.

The Northam Administration has thrown an anchor line around the ascendant ideology of transgenderism, and hopes that, with some lift from the self-appointed arbiters of cultural truth, he can resist the calls to resign coming from his own party.

Cloaked in the language of "care" and "non-discrimination," the Virginia Board of Counseling is seeking public comment on a regulation that would declare "practicing conversion therapy/sexual orientation change efforts with minors has the potential to be harmful." The comment period is open until 11:59 P.M. on August 7. In less flowery language, licensed counselors in Virginia would not be allowed to counsel a minor with same-sex attraction or gender incongruence against living out his or her feelings — even if those feelings are unwanted.

The regulatory notice admits it comes only after transgender ideologues tried to push the bill through the Virginia House of Delegates in 2018, where it was ultimately voted down in committee.

This regulation bans all types of sexual orientation change efforts, including non-coercive talk therapy. (There is no credible case for defending electric shock or other torture practices as "therapy.") But this regulation bans talking about thoughts and feelings except in the manner endorsed by the state. It demands that the counselor affirm a minor's feelings of same-sex attraction; it prohibits the counselor from affirming a minor's desire not to experience same-sex attraction.

What would be the consequences?

If a minor is unhappy with his or her body, the counselor must affirm those feelings of self-loathing. The counselor must acquiesce to this state-sanctioned, sadistic charade, even to the point of steering his clients toward puberty-blocking drugs. The regulation would prohibit the counselor from informing the minor or his/her parents these drugs still have not been proven safe. The counselor would be forced to support life-changing, body-altering surgeries which would permanently remove healthy organs that distinguish a young person's body as male or female. The counselor could not discuss the scientific evidence showing that sexual orientation and gender identity can change, with as many as 98 percent of boys and 88 percent of girls reverting back to their biological orientation and identity following puberty (according to the "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders," 5th edition).

Under this regulation, counseling must proceed towards a state-determined objective, which serves only to maximize the number of LGBT-identified Americans for political purposes. Meanwhile, helping young persons sort out their feelings and emotions in an organic, healthy way is not allowed.

This is not a ban on conversion therapy; it demands conversion therapy. It forces minors towards irreversible surgeries and hormones to change their apparent sex.

It muzzles professionally trained, licensed counselors from talking through complex emotions with minors who are still trying to understand their own bodies.

This ban is not about protecting kids or preventing discrimination. It's about power. This is suppression of speech, plain-and-simple, because those who swept in a radical, new, scientifically unfounded ideology overnight are afraid that it won't stand up to careful scrutiny unless they can silence all dissent.