Kirk Murphy was 5 years old when his mother took him to see a therapist. She was concerned because he liked to play with girl’s toys. The therapist assured his mother that he could help Kirk act more like a boy. After 10 months of treatment that included sexual experiments and physical abuse, the therapist decided that Kirk was cured of his feminine tendencies. However, Kirk never recovered from the therapy he was subjected to as a child. In 2011, at the age of 38, Kirk Murphy killed himself.
Unfortunately, stories like Kirk’s are not uncommon. Conversion therapy techniques, like the ones Kirk was forced to endure, are aimed at changing a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity from homosexual to heterosexual. Conversion therapy is an outdated practice that causes significant harm to the mental and emotional health of LGBT youth, but it is still being used on LGBT youth in the United States. LGBT youth view conversion therapy as a form of rejection, which causes them to be 8.4 times more likely to think about committing or attempt to commit suicide, 5.9 times more likely to experience depression and feelings of hopelessness, and 3.4 times more likely to turn to alcohol and illegal drugs as a coping mechanism than their heterosexual peers.