The Trevor Project’s Sam Brinton survived conversion therapy—now they're fighting to ban the practice.
Brinton admitted his attraction to men to his father at a young age, and said he then became extremely physically abusive. His parents eventually sent him to undergo conversion therapy.
Conversion therapy is a practice that attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The controversial practice employs a variety of techniques, including talk therapy, inducing nausea, vomiting, or paralysis; electric shocks, and hypnosis.
An estimated 700,000 people have received conversion therapy and nearly 80,000 youth are expected to receive the treatment in coming years. The practice has been widely discredited by medical organizations.
“I think the worst part about conversion therapy is the lie that it provides to the parents,” Brinton said. “My parents were sold snake oil telling them that they could change their child into an all-American boy. And, in the end conversion therapy nearly killed me and destroyed my relationship with my family.”
Since 2017, Brinton, who uses they-them pronouns, has worked at The Trevor Project, a nonprofit dedicated to preventing LGBTQIA+ youth suicide. In December 2016, they launched the 50 Bills 50 States campaign to call for laws banning conversion therapy in every state.
“When I started the 50 Bills 50 States campaign, about 10 to 11 states were working on ending conversion therapy with legislation,” he explained. “As of this moment, we have 40 states with submitted legislation working to end conversion therapy.”
Brinton encourages people to speak out against conversion therapy.
“I think the true power of conversion therapy comes from its ability to not be talked about…to be silent, to be silencing” they said. “So don’t give it that power. Bring it to light. And together, it will not stand a chance.”