So-Called “Conversion Therapy” Survivor Ryan Kendall on SB 1172
Ryan Kendall, a survivor of so-called “Conversion Therapy” who testified in the Perry v. Brown legal challenge to Proposition 8, described his experience before the The California Assembly Business, Professions and Consumer Protection Committee in Sacramento this July during the hearing on SB 1172.
SB 1172, a bill that would ban psychotherapists from engaging in efforts to change the sexual orientation of minors, was approved by the committee on July, 26 212 on a 5-2 vote.
Read a transcript of Kendall’s testimony below.
As a young teen, the anti-gay practice of so-called conversion therapy destroyed my life and tore apart my family. In order to stop the therapy that misled my parents into believing that I could somehow be made straight, I was forced to run away from home, surrender myself to the local department of human services, and legally separate myself from my family. Though I lived in Colorado, the conversion therapist my family relied on practiced out of Southern California.
At the age of 16, I had lost everything. My family and my faith had rejected me, and the damaging messages of conversion therapy, coupled with this rejection, drove me to the brink of suicide. For the next decade I struggled with depression, periods of homelessness, and drug abuse.
I am here today because as a young teenager I dreamed that one day adults would pass legislation to protect people like me. I am here because youth subjected to these discredited therapies deserve a voice in the room. They are the ones living the trauma and horror that conversion therapy inflicts on people for no reason, with no evidence, merely because of who they are. If any of these youth are listening, they should know that there is nothing wrong with them; they are perfect, beautiful, and deserving of love.
It took me a decade to rebuild my life, but we know that too many people are not so fortunate. Conversion therapy inflicts harm by sending the message that there is something defective or immoral about people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. It justifies discrimination by arguing that we can and should change and do not deserve any legal protections. It misleads families into believing that there is something wrong with their child or their loved won. Tragically, it harms the most vulnerable among us – children. This must stop.
Today, this committee is faced with a simple choice – to side with the forces of anti-gay intolerance and junk science, or to stand up for LGBT youth who deserve our protection. These kids are worth it.
Please, send Senate Bill 1172 to the Assembly floor for a vote. It is the right thing to do. Thank you.