Yesterday I was intrigued by a story in the Sunday Telegraph about Lesley Pilkington, a psychotherapist threatened with striking-off by her professional association, the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy, for offering to try to help a homosexual go straight, despite the patient having requested the treatment, and having had it explained to him that Mrs. Pilkington worked “in a Christian Biblical framework”. The “patient” turned out to be an agent provocateur — a journalist and prominent “homosexual rights” campaigner. Mrs. Pilkington accuses him of entrapment, and she seems to have a point.
A thought occurred to me, and I immediately Tweeted it: “Why is it OK for a surgeon to perform a sex-change operation, but not OK for a psychiatrist to try to “turn” a consenting homosexual?”.
This seems to have caused quite a stir. Of course I should have remembered that a politician isn’t allowed to mention homosexuality these days unless he is a fully paid-up member of Stonewall, and unless he conforms to the choreography of 21st century political correctness. Yet it was a reasonable question, expressed in modest terms. I never cease to be amazed by the instant indignation of an intolerant and strident minority.
There is a clear parallel between a man who is uncomfortable with his gender, and wants to change it; and a man who is uncomfortable with his gender-orientation, and wants to change it. In the first case, we approve, and the NHS pays for the treatment. In the second case, we strike off the therapist.
No doubt the Stonewall tendency will argue that homosexuality is not a disease, and therefore cannot be cured. But being a man is not a disease, and gender reassignment surgery can scarcely be described as a cure — and yet we do it. Surely in both cases (and in the vile argot of modern times) we are dealing with “valid lifestyle choices”, in each case.
They will also argue that changing gender orientation is impossible, and so offering to do so is deceitful. They will dismiss examples of former homosexuals going straight as “living a lie”. They are “conflicted”. They are not “really” heterosexual. Then again there will be those who might argue that a man having undergone gender reassignment is not “really” a woman — merely a man who through medical interventions has been given some of the apparent characteristics of the opposite sex. It seems to me that this is a question not so much of medical science and biology, as of semantics and philosophy, and perhaps I am not technically qualified to judge.
But I do know that there are surgeons who make a good living out of gender reassignment, and I know that there are psychotherapists (admittedly a minority) who believe that gender orientation can be influenced. So if a person (I hesitate to say a patient) wants the treatment, and if he and his therapist believe that there may be a chance of success, who are we to deny him that chance?
In a curious way, I feel I am speaking up for the rights of homosexuals, and in particular their right to seek to change if they want to, for whatever reason.
I am aware that some fundamentalist Muslims prescribe draconian penalties for Muslims who seek to adopt a new religion, but it is alarming to find that the homosexual tendency, who I take it would broadly see themselves as libertarian, take a similarly harsh approach to apostasy.