My name is Kate McCobb and I survived eight years of conversion therapy.
This is my story.
In 2006, when I was 25, I began seeing a therapist who fixated on the fact I was a lesbian – even though I didn’t seek counseling about that. He insisted that my attraction to women was pathological, a result of childhood sexual abuse even though I had no memories of that at all.
He claimed that with his help, my brain could be “rewired” to reveal my “true self” – a heterosexual woman. Through individual and group sessions, he encouraged me to become “more feminine” – to lose weight, grow out my hair, change my wardrobe … and date men. He convinced me that I was sick and that I could change.
For eight years, I tried. But I moved to another state in 2014 and began seeing a new therapist the following spring. It was from my new therapist that I discovered that “conversion therapy” was considered unethical and harmful by all the major medical and mental health associations. And it began to dawn on me that my old therapist’s attempts to change my sexual orientation were not just useless but dangerous.
That’s when I found NCLR. Initially, I was filled with shame as I told my story – I still largely blamed myself. But from my first interaction with the NCLR attorneys, I was treated with tenderness and respect. Most importantly, I was validated as a queer person in a way I had not experienced ever in my life, least of all from strangers.
These brilliant lawyers suggested a new approach with my case, arguing that the more than $70,000 I’d paid for therapy constituted consumer fraud. When they drafted my complaint, I cried when I read it. I was so struck by how NCLR’s legal team, representing me free of charge, invested so much time and effort truly understanding my story and building a strong case against my former therapist.
My story has a happy ending. This month, we reached a settlement and I can move on with my life.
I know that what I went through was terrible. But I also know that I am very privileged to have had the opportunity to work with NCLR and to be a part of what is a very important movement to discredit and end a destructive and worthless practice.
There aren’t many lawyers who represent their clients for free. Our community is under attack, and there are too many vulnerable young LGBTQ people who are being harmed even as I write this.
I will be forever grateful to NCLR, and I hope this settlement encourages others to step forward and fight. I know that what I went through was terrible—no one knows it better than I do, but I also know that I am very privileged to have had the opportunity to work with the NCLR and to be a part of what is a very important movement to discredit and end a pernicious and worthless practice.