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Ex-gay and transgender groups lobby Congress against LGBTQ rights bills

Two organizations claiming to be made up of people who formerly identified as gay and transgender are lobbying against proposed LGBTQ rights bills in Washington this week, claiming, despite existing academic research and federal hate crimes data, that anti-LGBTQ discrimination does not exist, according to NBC News.

Fifteen members of Church United and Changed, two California-based organizations representing people who no longer identify as gay or transgender, lobbied against the Equality Act and the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act.

The Equality Act would explicitly ban discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation in employment, federal programs, education, housing and public accommodations, while the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act would classify so-called conversion therapy as a fraudulent practice.

“I live in Portland [Oregon] and I don’t see the discrimination that LGBTQ people talk about,” Kathy Grace Duncan, who formerly identified as a trans man, told NBC News. “They’re asking for certain rights in this legislation, but these are rights that they already have.”

“Changing the Civil Rights Act would create a super class for anyone identifying as LGBTQ at the expense of people who are not,” said Jim Domen, founder of Church United, who identifies as formerly gay, told the network. “The Equality Act treats sexual preference as an elevated class and would strip people of religious freedom.”

Research by the Williams Institute at UCLA indicates gay, lesbian and bisexual people who are cisgender — the term for people whose gender identity matches their assigned sex at birth — are far more likely to report experiences of work and housing discrimination than heterosexuals.

“Maybe this group of people doesn’t feel it’s been discriminated against when they identified as LGBTQ+, but whether a particular group feels like it’s discriminated against isn’t an indication of whether discrimination exists for other people,” Ryan Thoreson, an LGBTQ researcher at Human Rights Watch, told NBC News.

“There’s a clear consensus from groups that work with LGBTQ+ people that this legislation will benefit them and help them live better lives,” he added.

Numerous people formerly involved with the “ex-gay” movement have denounced the movement as ineffective, and in 2007 several former leaders of ex-gay ministries published an apology for their work with the movement.

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