Gender and sexuality diversity (GSD): respecting difference

Davies, Dominic and Barker, Meg John (2015). Gender and sexuality diversity (GSD): respecting difference. The Psychotherapist(60) pp. 16–17.



The recent publication of the memorandum of understanding on gay to straight conversion therapy brought many key psychology, health, counselling, and psychotherapy organisations together for the first time to collaborate on a subject on which they had no disagreement. The memorandum clearly states that efforts to try to change sexual orientation through psychological therapies are unethical and potentially harmful. Clearly, therapy has come a long way since the declassification of homosexuality as a mental disorder in the American Psychiatric Association Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM, 1973) and the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases (ICD, 1992).

What the document left out was conversion therapy as it applies to gender and sexual diversity (GSD) identities and practices beyond gay identities and same sex attractions. For example, in relation to transgender, some therapists still deem it acceptable to try to eliminate behaviour in children that doesn’t conform to cultural gender norms or private ‘cross-dressing’ practices by husbands in a heterosexual marriage. In the case of bisexuality, some still encourage clients to ‘pick’ homosexuality or heterosexuality, rather than respecting the person holding a bisexual identity.

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