My parents saved up for the so-called counseling, having heard through a network of Baptist preachers that, in many cases, clients required months, sometimes years, of “treatment.” By the time I realized conversion therapy didn’t work, it had not only taken our money but also caused our family deep emotional and psychological harm.

Before the two weeks were up, the director of the program spoke with my mother about extending my stay for another month, then another three months, and after that, possibly even years. Only after my mother witnessed me on the brink of suicide did she withdraw me from treatment. Otherwise, we might have spent thousands more and lost years of our lives to conversion therapy.

This week, JAMA Pediatrics published an economic study on the cost of conversion therapy among LGBTQ youth. Over a lifetime, the estimated cost amounts to nearly $100,000 per person, with the national burden totaling roughly $650 million.These staggering numbers do not even include adult or international populations. Taking into account associated harms resulting from such “therapy,” researchers went on to estimate a total national economic burden of $9.23 billion.This study confirms what many survivors of conversion therapy already know to be true: that conversion therapy is immensely detrimental and costly in countless ways. For years, I have met and interviewed dozens of survivors who have spent their life savings on conversion therapy practices, which researchers found dramatically increase the risk of depression, substance abuse and suicidal ideation. Not one survivor I spoke with failed to mention the pressure they experienced from so-called counselors who suggested, as mine did, that the road to a “cure” would be long and costly.When someone is repeatedly told their identity is shameful and wrong, is it any wonder that they would seek more treatment in the hopes of leaving shame behind? Human rights organizations, like the Human Rights Campaign, have for years discredited the practice of conversion therapy.This latest study provides more evidence that the practice is indeed ineffective and harmful. By contrast, the research shows affirmative therapy, which embraces and upholds a positive view of all identities, would save $1.81 billion nationally over no intervention and nearly $6.19 billion over conversion therapy, in addition to reducing risk of self-harm and other negative outcomes. This suggests that when LGBTQ youth undergo legitimate affirmative therapy, not only are the costs lower, but the outcomes are more positive.

In many ways, I was lucky. With the support of affirming friends, I was able to convince myself and my family that I did not need to erase my identity. When one of my conversion therapy counselors later reached out to me, pleading with me to leave my “sinful lifestyle” behind and re-enroll, I told him the…

Source: Opinon: What conversion therapy cost me