Tonight, CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 aired the first part of a three-part series called, “The Sissy Boy Experiment,” examining the effects of government-funded gender-normalizing therapy on a five-year old boy named Kirk Murphy in 1970. The therapy was carried out by disgraced Family Research Council co-founder George Rekers, whose three decade career in the conservative social movement came to an end last year, after reporters from the Miami New Times caught him traveling with a gay escort.
After ten months of treatment, Rekers pronounced that Kirk’s feminine behavior was “gone” and he used the case to launch his career. Kirk, meanwhile, struggled for the remainder of his life. His “outgoing personality changed and he began to behave in the way he knew his parent and George Rekers wanted him to,” his brother Mark recalls. “He had no idea how to relate to people. It was like somebody came up to him and turned his light-switch off.” Kirk eventually came out as gay in 1985 and after one unsuccessful attempt at 17, committed suicide at the age of 38.
“I used to spend so much time thinking why would he kill himself at the age of 38? It doesn’t make any sense to me. What I now think is, how did he make it that long,” his sister Maris asks.
Box Turtle Bulletin’s Jim Burroway has published a full series of posts investigating Kirk’s story and the harmful effects of ex-gay therapy. Read his blog here and watch the first part of CNN’s series below:
Rekers’ research and the purported success of Kirk’s therapy are still being touted by ex-gay organizations as evidence that homosexuality is a mutable characteristic, despite that obvious tragic consequences of such therapies. Both the American Psychological Association and American Psychiatric Association — among other groups — have ruled that efforts to change sexual orientation have no scientific credibility and can cause psychological harm to patients. As Cooper will likely explore in his series, the ex-gay movement is guided less by research and more by a political and social agenda that opposes gay equality.