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National Center for Lesbian Rights

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It’s been an exceptional year of successes for survivors of conversion therapy.

Born Perfect had an incredible year in 2020, generously supported by people like you. Although the pandemic changed some of the ways we do our work, we won major victories and moved closer than ever to a world in which every young person knows they are born perfect and the deadly practice of conversion therapy is no more. 

Born Perfect’s role in the movement to end conversion therapy is vital because our work is led by survivors in a unique partnership with lawyers and advocates. We understand the harms that conversion therapy inflicts, not just on survivors and their families but on the broader society. We are deeply committed to ending those harms.  And we’re growing.

Winning state and local restrictions

As a result of our public education and grassroots advocacy about the harms of conversion therapy, two new states—Virginia and Utah—enacted measures banning conversion therapy for minors by licensed therapists. In addition, 17 more cities passed local ordinances. We have also been actively supporting bills in a number of other states, including a particularly promising campaign in Kentucky. At the federal level, we met on Capitol Hill with the LGBTQ Equality Caucus to raise the profile of survivors in partnership with Dan Reynold’s organization LOVELOUD. Overall, in 2020, 301 elected officials voted on conversion therapy laws, with 225 voting in favor of banning conversion therapy and 69 voting against. In all these efforts, policy makers were guided by the testimony of survivors and their families.

Aiding a global ban

We were deeply inspired in July when Victor Madrigal-Borloz, the United Nations’ Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, called for a global ban. He stated that conversion therapy practices “inflict severe pain and suffering on lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and gender-diverse (LGBT) persons, often resulting in long-lasting psychological and physical damage.” 

Born Perfect contributed to the U.N.’s work, gathering testimony and evidence for the Independent Expert’s report to the Human Rights Council. The report draws from 130 submissions from governments, civil society organizations, religious organizations, health providers, and survivors of “ex-gay” or “reparative” therapy.

Born Perfect co-founder and chief strategist Mathew Shurka also testified as an expert on the impact of conversion therapy at Harvard in February.

Deepening community ties and legal advocacy

Locally, Born Perfect has rapidly built our capacity to track conversion therapists and conversion therapy organizations; we are monitoring 2,100 suspect counselors and 307 organizations, even as we deepen ties with local advocates for LGBTQ people and for youth. We have also continued and amplified our legal advocacy. In one particularly heart wrenching recent case, we helped a supportive aunt and uncle file for emergency guardianship for a young man whose father was about to send him to a particularly brutal conversion therapy program in Missouri. As a result, he was able to avoid being subjected to conversion therapy and is now living in a supportive home. We also coordinated the filing of numerous amicus briefs, including one from Born Perfect, in a significant 11th Circuit Court of Appeals case challenging a conversion therapy ban.

Energizing survivors and the public

In our extensive public education work, we consulted on two documentary films—Cured, which premiered in August, and Pray Away, which will be released in 2021. We were also very pleased to partner with author Adam Sass on the release of his debut young-adult thriller, Surrender Your Sons, about escaping from a conversion therapy camp.

Over the course of 2020, Born Perfect organized a dozen town hall meetings on conversion therapy, and we continued to grow our partnerships and coalitions. In particular, we began collaborative work to protect youth in troubled-teen youth programs from conversion therapy and developed a new partnership with Dignity USA to deepen work with religious institutions to protect religious families from conversion therapy.

Fighting on the ground with survivors

As we enter 2021, we are working to bring justice to survivors such as Jessica Ritter, with whom we filed a complaint in Texas against her conversion therapist, and we are finalizing our strategy to advance legislation and public opposition against conversion therapy in states that are deep in the nation’s heartland.

We are grateful that you have made this work possible. And we look forward to making even greater progress in the year ahead. Happy New Year from all of us at Born Perfect.

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