Happy PRIDE!!

Article by: Sheena Yazdandoost, LCSW

Throughout the month of June, as we celebrate the LGBTQ+ community and bring the month to a close, I want to bring to our attention the impact that the mental health community has had on Queer identities throughout history. Here is a summarized timeline of only a few notable points where mental health professionals played different roles in this abusive and exclusionary history:

Late 12th Centrury  public denouncement and hostility toward homosexuality began
17th Century Colonial America  homosexuality was illegal and punishable by death
1897 – Dr. Havelock Ellis (British physician) published Sexual Inversionan article demonstrating that same-sex desires are a natural expression of sexual instinct and is a common biological manifestation in humans and animals alike
1899 – German psychiatrist, Albert von Schrenck-Notzing claims to have used hypnosis and “a few trips to a brothel” to convert a gay man straight, starting the idea of “conversion therapy”
1905 and 1920 – Sigmund Freud publishes Three Contributions to the Theory of Sex and The Psychogenesis of a Case of Female Homosexuality attempting to understand “causes” of homosexuality and discusses “inherent bisexuality”
1935 – Sigmund Freud writes famous letter to an American mother seeking support stating that “it is a great injustice to persecute homosexuality as a crime”
1938 – Dr. Samuel B. Hadden begins to study conversion therapy groups 
1948 and 1953 – Alfred Kinsey, zoologist, publishes studiesSexual Behavior in the Human Male and Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, proving that homosexuality is far more complex and common than previously assumed
1952 – DSM-I listed homosexuality as a “sociopathic personality disturbance”
1957 – Dr. Evelyn Hooker published The Adjustment of the Male Overt Homosexual refuting the notion that homosexuality is a psychopathology
1960s-70s – Dr. Samuel B. Hadden begins publishing his conversion therapy “research
1968 – DSM-II continues to list it as a disorder
1969 – The Stonewall uprising
1974 – DSM-II no longer lists homosexuality as a “disorder” but as a “sexual orientation disturbance”
1980 – DSM-III lists “ego-dystonic homosexuality” replacing “sexual orientation disturbance” and introduces gender identity disorder
1987 – DSM-III-R lists “sexual disorder not otherwise specified” (which includes “persistent and marked distress about one’s sexual orientation,” replacing “ego-dystonic homosexuality”
2013 – DSM-V lists gender dysphoria, a separate non-mental disorder diagnosis
LGBTQ+ identified adults are twice as likely than heterosexual adults to experience a mental health condition and an increased risk of suicidal ideation, and this is especially true for Queer people of color, particularly Black and Latinx trans-women. The threat of ongoing violence greatly impacts the mental health and safety of the LGBTQ+ community across the world. As we work with clients and interact with coworkers, I hope we can keep this history of abuse and exclusion in our awareness and in our hearts as they carry this in their bodies.

Today, conversion therapy is still legal in the majority of states/territories in the U.S.. You can follow updates on proposed bills in the Texas legislature and donate to efforts to protect Texans at Equality Texas. You can also review policy and position statements against conversion therapy here and continue supporting advocacy efforts.

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