The impact of sexual orientation conversion therapies on transgender individuals

Heather Tillewein, Aaron J. Kruse-Diehr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The purpose of sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) is to change an individual’s sexual orientation, not necessarily gender identity. Given that sexual orientation is a distinctly different construct than gender identity, sexual conversion therapy methods may be different for transgender individuals, and the impact may also be different. This qualitative multiple case study (N =4) investigated the experiences and impact of SOCE on transgender individuals in the Midwest using a phenomenological approach to develop the common meaning of a concept based on individuals’ shared lived experiences. Semi-structured interviews were used to gather data on participants'’ experiences of having undergone SOCE, and these data were used to uncover and describe cross-cutting themes. Participants identified the following as influences for having undergone SOCE: transphobia in the household environment, residence in a gender-normative environment, and religiosity in interpersonal relationships. The methods used by religious practitioners and those practicing reparative therapy; included electric shock therapy, electric shock on genitals paired with homosexual stimuli, physical abuse, and sexual abuse. The immediate negative impacts of SOCE included feelings of inauthenticity, pretend acceptance of their biological sex, and conformation to gender norms. Lasting effects included loss of faith, lack of trust, sexual dysfunction, and negative self-esteem.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)676-688
Number of pages13
JournalPsychology and Sexuality
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • SOCE
  • Transgender
  • conversion therapy
  • reparative therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Social Psychology
  • Health(social science)
  • Applied Psychology


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