Who are The Anti-Conversion Therapy Coalition?

A guest post by members of The Irish Resistance

When same-sex marriage was legalised by referendum in 2015, many considered this the final chapter of LGBTQ+ activism in Ireland, a mark of equal rights finally being achieved. It’s a nice sentiment, but ultimately a naïve one. -Ellen Kenny, Features Editor of Trinity News unintentionally hitting the nail on the head.

The fledgling Anti Conversion Therapy Coalition must have held their collective breath as journalist Craig Ferrell from The Irish Sun wrapped up his quick interview with Roderic O’Gorman, Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth. Would he or wouldn’t he ask the question:

“Minister, what exactly do you mean by conversion therapy?”

Happily for these purveyors of misinformation he did no such thing. The article headlined: BAN PLAN: Roderic O’Gorman says he was unaware of how prevalent conversion therapy was in Ireland until speaking to those affected contained this definition instead:

O’Gorman is the perfect dupe for Irish transactivists. He has the portfolios of both Equality and Children, allowing them to save time by lobbying one man only about indoctrinating the next generation and about taking away women’s rights. He’s from the government’s smallest coalition member, the Green Party, whose website disgracefully dismisses the biggest fight and biggest win Irish women have had in recent times as “the human rights of the pregnant person”. And he’s a gay man who’s happy to ditch the G-word in favour of calling himself “a member of the LGBTI+ community”.

Grace Butler of the ACTC was far more candid in a disturbing article in student magazine The Trinity News two weeks ago.

Planting seeds in a person’s head, Grace? How on earth do you propose to ban all forms of therapeutic conversation that have the potential to create a seed of doubt in a dysphoric patient’s mind?

The only real way is: to ban all therapeutic conversation that isn’t a joyful affirmation of the patient’s transgender identity, which Grace knows perfectly well.

But who are the Anti Conversion Therapy Coalition? They launched in April and repeatedly refer to themselves as a group of young activists but are keeping suspiciously schtum about their membership. Chair @aarongrantdj is currently run ragged on Twitter retweeting every dismissive comment he can find about the Irish Times opinion piece by concerned therapists who inconveniently read the wording of the draft Bill. Interviewee @GraceMButler tweets often but there wasn’t a peep about her Trinity News interview. There’s no hint on social media what connection Aaron or Grace personally have to the cause of banning conversion therapy. 

If the Anti Conversion Therapy Coalition had any members who had themselves experienced conversion therapy, or were close to people who had, or had been given the whiff of a threat of it, you can bet they’d be talking to journalists about it non-stop.

The truth is that even under their own twisted definition of conversion therapy, none of them can lay claim to it. It’s all theoretical to them. But it proves very useful to TENI. (Congrats on filing those 2019 accounts at last, TENI!)

Thanks again to Ellen Kenny and Grace Butler for shedding light on the strategy. Could the mere existence of a waiting list be in itself a form of conversion therapy, maybe? Who knows? The sky’s the limit! Although it’d be handy to have a few people actually claiming they suffered under conversion therapy first…

The ACTC released a little survey on Google Docs on August 5 and Lilith Ferreyra-Carroll ( Kevin Carroll) of TENI used Twitter to hint at how it should be (mis)used.

“please if you are trans or lgbqia+ fill this out…” What? Surely it’s only to be filled out by people who have experienced conversion therapy? Nobody would LIE on an anonymous google docs form, right?

“Depathologising of trans people” is a favourite phrase of Lilith’s. It sounds nice. Nobody wants to be pathologised, right? Except that it means: “making bodily alteration available on demand”. 

Let’s not.

Let’s take a break from the ACTC’s hysteria and disinformation and think about the brave words of Jacky Grainger, Madeleine Ní Dhailigh and Stella O’Malley who wrote the truth in the Irish Times yesterday.

This is the reality. And TENI and the ACTC are pulling the wool over our eyes in trying to get Fintan Warfield’s bill through the Oireachtas without anybody noticing that the Bill isn’t about conversion therapy at all.

Roderic O’Gorman last answered a question on this in May.

Get a TD from you constituency to ask him about it again – starting with, has he read the bloody thing?

My thanks to the Irish Resistance for the piece. Screenshots from the ACTC questionnaire follow.