06/28/2013 09:00 am ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

As 'Gay Cure' Ministry Exodus International Closes, Insights From an 'Incurable'

After 27 years, Exodus International will close. Its leader renounced the idea that homosexuality could be "cured" and apologized for the "shame" and "trauma" the group had inflicted. Read more here.

This idea of a "gay cure" is sick. Gays can't be "cured." Years ago we tried to "cure" left-handers; it didn't work.

Actually, years ago, there was an unfortunate incident involving a circumcision that didn't go well. The baby was left essentially without a penis, so he was altered to be female and raised as a girl. The problem is that gender identity doesn't necessarily match body sex or societal enculturation. The young man grew up identifying as male anyway and had a very difficult life as a result of the attempt to change his natural gender.

There has been some attempt, largely on the part of right-wing Christians, to "cure" gays and make them straight. In a few cases, it appears to have actually worked. What's really going on here is complicated. In the Kinsey model, sexual attraction is a continuum, with homosexuality at one end and heterosexuality at the other. Bisexuality is in the middle. Everyone, apparently, falls on that line somewhere. According to Kinsey, almost half of men are not strictly straight but a least a little bisexual, and 6 to 10 percent are strictly gay. If one were truly bisexual but somehow originally socialized gay, that person could switch to heterosexual partners and be comfortable. The problem is that someone all the way to the gay end of the spectrum cannot be heterosexual any more than someone all the way at the straight end can live gay.

The percentage of people "cured" by these treatments isn't very high; there's a substantial failure rate. The "successes" are individuals somewhat in the middle of the spectrum who could live as either. They weren't "cured"; they were just shown an alternative lifestyle.

A continuing source of irritation to me is the idea that sexual orientation and gender identity are really choices. Why on Earth would anyone choose to be a member of a group so outcast that you could be killed for being a part of it? These people, LGBTQQI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex) individuals, struggle tremendously to gain acceptance in our society. Acceptance is improving but still has a long way to go.

I know that my gender identity is most definitely not a choice. Had I been given a choice, I would have chosen a gender identity congruent with my body's sex. I have suffered enormous, unspeakable pain for decades from having my real gender identity in conflict with my birth sex. Outside the transgender experience, it's truly difficult to appreciate how incredibly painful it really is. Being in the wrong body hurts.

Given that this is who I am, however, I am happy to be this. I told my therapist months ago that if she had a pill that would magically make me a man, happy to have a man's body, I wouldn't take it. I would truly rather be a trans woman than a born man. I am very happy to be who I am, very proud of who I am. I think I'm a beautiful and complete person with an interesting story. But I'm very sure that, going in, had I been given a choice, I wouldn't have taken this.

As a male, all I ever really wanted was to die. And I don't mean "go to heaven with Jesus and my grandparents"; I mean "go away," like when I am under general anesthesia. No matter how happy or upbeat I seemed, I knew I felt this way. I could not understand how anyone could honestly think life was worth living. I sincerely didn't get how anyone could actually be happy to be alive. Not me; I deeply regretted being born. This is torture; why should I be glad to be here?

Well, I live as my true gender now: I'm a woman. I am very happy to be alive. But still, even still, I would never have chosen this had I been given a choice. The history of medicine has shown that, using rigorous academic critical standards, LGBT individuals cannot be "cured." All medical science has to offer is to help us cope with who we really are. We need acceptance and understanding, not false promises of "cures."

Please stop trying to cure us! Just love us for who we are.

Need help? In the U.S., call 1-866-488-7386 for the Trevor Lifeline, or call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.