We Are Who We Are

For Immediate Release, Wednesday August 21, 2009

By Affirmation Co-spokesperson Tim Tennant-Jayne

For many years those of us who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer have known of anecdotal evidence that our sexual orientation or gender orientation is a basic part of our make-up.  Loving someone of the same gender is not a choice we consciously make one morning, nor is this something that can be changed by altering some ‘selection switch’.  Likewise, the idea that a person wakes up one morning and decides to go through the emotionally and physically painful process to change their gender on a whim is just as ridiculous.  Experience of psychological professionals has shown that such feelings cannot be ‘repaired.’  As the song says, “I am who I am.” Recently the American Psychological Association (APA) declared that no solid evidence exists that such “reparative” change is likely, and some research suggests that efforts to produce change could be harmful, inducing depression and suicidal tendencies.  Affirmation: United Methodists for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Concerns applauds this recognition.

The APA is a 150,000 member organization of mental health professionals.  They are the most authoritative organization for issues of counseling, therapy, and mental and emotional health.  For this report, a six-member task force of the APA spent two years examining over 80 studies on sexual orientation change that dated back to 1960.  At their national meeting in early August, the APA's governing council adopted a resolution in support of the report on an overwhelming 125-to-4 vote.

Many of us have experienced, or know people who were subjected to, the so-called “reparative therapy” which seeks to change sexual orientation.  We recognize the fallacy of this effort.  At best, people learn how to mask their true feelings.  We cannot remove the same-sex orientation, but we can learn different-sex appreciation.

The decision of the APA also highlights the great harm created by those individuals and groups who continue to insist that change is somehow possible.  Affirmation recognizes that unfortunately The United Methodist Church is among these groups. While not promoting this discredited view as vocally as some organizations, the current policies in The Book of Discipline are based on an attitude of denying our God-given gifts and accepting us only if we can change.  This viewpoint is wrong from a mental health standpoint, as well as from a scriptural one that claims that we are to love God and to love our neighbor as ourselves.  Nor is it being faithful to John Wesley’s declaration to ‘Do No Harm’.  Affirmation calls upon our denomination to recognize this great evil in its midst and realize that only when we love our neighbors in all their diversity, do we truly love God.  Remove the hate-filled statutes opposing our ordination and the recognition of our relationships.  It’s time for The United Methodist Church to live up to its advertising and truly “Open Doors” to all – especially those of its children who are specially gifted with same-sex orientation or transgender identities.

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As an independent voice of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer people, Affirmation radically reclaims the compassionate and transforming gospel of Jesus Christ by relentlessly pursuing full inclusion in the Church as we journey with the Spirit in creating God’s beloved community.

Affirmation: United Methodists for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Concerns is an activist, all-volunteer, not-for-profit organization with no official ties to The United Methodist Church.

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