The Public Overwhelmingly Oppose The “Gender Critical” View On Conversion Therapy

“Gender Critical” people will often argue that their position of banning conversion therapy for gay people and not trans people is popular. It’s not.

Data from YouGov 7th April 2022 poll [pdf]

YouGov recently published a poll showing the British public’s attitude towards conversion therapy. I have presented the data in my own chart above. Obviously the main take away from this poll is that the British public overwhelmingly support a conversion therapy ban for both sexual orientation and gender identity — for all LGBT people — and that is great! But there’s more…

What I’m most interested in is the group who support a ban for sexual orientation but not for gender identity. The support for a ban for sexual orientation is 65% and for gender identity it is 62%. So roughly 3% of people think there’s a difference between the two types of conversion therapy*, but roughly half of those said don’t know for gender identity. So that means roughly 1.5% of people in the country believe that conversion therapy should be banned for gay people but not for trans people. Ok, so why is that interesting? Well firstly that is the government’s stated position and it is very unpopular. But secondly that describes what I’d call the “political GC position” on this issue.

The first column represents the “TRA” position, the third column represents the “political GC position”

*It isn’t quite possible to reverse-engineer the data like this for certain. It is possible that some people said they wanted to ban conversion therapy just for gender identity, though that seems unlikely given the overall data trend. It’s also possible some people said don’t know on sexual orientation and then oppose on gender identity, or a few other possible combinations, we just cannot say for certain with this data. But this does represent the general trend.

So can we just look at this data and say that the GC movement only represents just over 1% of the public? Well probably not. While it is true that most GCs will tell you that they are fine with a ban for conversion therapy for gay people, just not for trans people, I think that for a lot of them that just isn’t true. And this is why I’ve described it as the “political GC position”. A key part of GC strategy is trying to seperate trans people from the LGBT community in an attempt to make opposing some form of LGBT rights seem more palatable to the public. GCs realise that homophobia just doesn’t sell to Britain in 2022 so politically they need to distance themselves from it. In reality many, maybe even most, do oppose any conversion therapy ban at all, they just realise it’s politically inconvenient to argue for that.

You can see this in action with the public position of LGB Alliance, a mainstream GC group that has claimed to be fighting for gay people and against trans people. In the lead up to the ban it looked like it would be all or nothing — a ban on conversion therapy for all LGBT people or for no one. So LGB Alliance stated that they opposed a ban for all forms of conversion therapy, including for sexual orientation. Then when the government announced its second u-turn they changed their view over night as it became more politically convenient to do so.

So perhaps the GC movement is represented by most or even all of the people who said they opposed any form of ban too. Either way they are massively outnumbered by the 62% of people who support the mainstream trans rights position on this issue!

This data, showing that people are more likely to support a conversion therapy ban for sexual orientation than for gender identity, further undermines the common GC claim that the rise in trans kids coming out is because parents are trying to “trans the gay away”. This claim is plainly ridiculous on its face, but it is the best GCs have to work with in terms of a post hoc rationalisation for why they support the torture of trans children. We already know that British people are more than twice as likely to reject a family member coming out as trans than if they came out as gay, now we also know they are more likely to support trying to force them through conversion therapy if they are trans too. This also aligns with the government’s own study that showed trans people are nearly twice as likely to have been pressured to undergo conversion therapy than gay people are.

One extra thing I want to highlight from this data is that it shows, for the millionth time, that women are more likely to support trans rights than men. We’ve seen this consistently from support for GRA Reform to trans women in women’s spaces. Most people who support trans rights are women, and most women support trans rights. Most people with GC views are men. This would be uncontroversial and unsurprising if it wasn’t for the fact that the GC movement’s main strategy is to present opposing trans rights as “defending women”. They aren’t, they are opposing women.

As shown in every poll ever, women are more likely to support trans rights

Yet another poll showing popular support for trans equality, supported mainly by women, which will be completely ignored by the government, the British media and the GC movement alike. We’ve already won the battle for hearts and minds; they’ve not even managed to get support for a conversion therapy ban below 60% after 6+ years of media war against trans people. Where we are losing is getting people in positions of power, and that’s where we need to focus!

Conversion therapy is torture #BanConversionTherapyNOW

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Katy Montgomerie

Katy is a feminist, LGBT rights advocate, atheist, metalhead, insect enthusiast and trans woman