Sexual orientation change vs. gender change

New Jersey has passed a law forbidding counseling or therapy that tries to change a minor’s sexual orientation.  But it specifically allows for counseling or therapy that tries to change a minor’s gender.  Matthew Schmitz sees a contradiction here.

From Matthew Schmitz, NJ: No Orientation Change Therapy for Minors—But Gender Change Is Fine » First Thoughts | A First Things Blog:

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie will sign a bill that bans sexual orientation change therapy for minors. The bill defines “sexual orientation change efforts” as:

seeking to change a person’s sexual orientation, including, but not limited to, efforts to change behaviors, gender identity, or gender expressions, or to reduce or eliminate sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward a person of the same gender; except that sexual orientation change efforts shall not include counseling for a person seeking to transition from one gender to another, or counseling that:

(1) provides acceptance, support, and understanding of a person or facilitates a person’s coping, social support, and identity exploration and development, including sexual orientation-neutral interventions to prevent or address unlawful conduct or unsafe sexual practices; and

(2) does not seek to change sexual orientation. [Highlight mine.]

A question: Why—medically speaking—should the state ban orientation change therapy for minors, but not gender change therapy?

The American School Counselor’s Association is quoted in the bill as saying, “It is not the role of the professional school counselor to attempt to change a student’s sexual orientation/gender identity.”

So, why ban one practice but not the other? Why—from a clinical perspective—should counseling to change gender be fine but to change sexual orientation illegal?


About Gene Veith

I am a retired English professor and college administrator. I have written over 20 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.