To Whom It May Concern:
I am writing as a Virginia resident and voter, expressing my opinion as a constituent on the Virginia Department of Health Professions' consideration of restrictions on the practice of conversion therapy by licensed medical providers.
The State of Virginia holds a responsibility to uphold a basic, minimum standard of care for health care providers receiving state licenses. Fundamentally, these care providers must adhere to the Hippocratic Oath to first, do no harm. There are providers who continue to practice conversion therapy and do direct harm to the patients they purport to "treat" -- it is the State's responsibility to ensure that this potentially harmful practice does not continue.
My greatest concern is the delivery of conversion therapy to minors. Should adults with internalized homophobia wish to seek help for their attraction to same-sex, trans, or nonbinary individuals, I find it tragic but that is their right as consenting adults who can make informed decisions about their behavioral health care. However, in the case of minors -- a large proportion of individuals "treated" in conversion therapy programs -- this is either by force at the will of their parents/guardians, or because they have been heavily influenced by the homophobic views of their church or religious community to undergo conversion therapy. In these cases, young people either do not or cannot consent to undergoing this "treatment" -- it is the State's responsibility to ensure that they do not suffer the psychological and emotional harm from forced or coerced attempts to deny their inherently expressed sexuality. This is fundamentally a child protection issue, and I hope the Department will take appropriate action to safeguard minors from the psychological harm that can be done by a clinician in conversion therapy to which a minor cannot independently consent.