I am writing to express my concerns with the article “North Carolina Still Allows Professionals to Practice Conversion Therapy on Minors” written by Giulia Heyward and published on April 7, 2021. 

My name is Talin Brown, and I am a member of the faculty at Solstice East. I am a transgender man who welcomed the opportunity to speak with Ms. Heyward about my own personal experience both as someone who has moved through the transition process and been part of the support provided to trans or gender non-conforming students at Solstice East. 

First, I am misgendered as a trans woman in the article. My pronouns were clearly communicated to Ms. Heyward during our interview, and my bio is easily accessible on the Solstice East company website. Second, the headline implies, incorrectly, that Solstice East practices conversion therapy. We do not. These instances speak to the lack of journalistic integrity of the author and the editorial team at Indy Week, and shine a light on the article’s bias. 

When meeting with Ms. Heyward, she communicated that her goal in writing this article was to convince the reader of the need for legislative action to prevent the continued use of conversion therapy in North Carolina. This is a laudable goal that I and the administration of Solstice East, as mentioned in the article, support wholeheartedly. To help readers understand the seriousness of the issue, Ms. Heyward focused much of the article around the experiences of a single individual. I cannot speak to this person’s personal journey. However, I can relate my own experience of support and affirmation as I have moved through my social transition process as an employee at Solstice East. And I can attest to the support that I have witnessed, and been a part of, for our students who are trans or gender non-conforming and their families.  

In addition, administration and staff participate in conferences, such as the Gender Education deMystification Symposium (GEMS), and other forms of professional development in order to constantly learn and grow in these areas. All of this was discussed in depth with Ms. Heyward during our hour-long interview, but she chose to include only a single, generalized quote in her article. She also declined to speak with other former Solstice East students and families. 

Again, I acknowledge the importance of the issues addressed in this article. Conversion therapy should be against the law in North Carolina and in every state in the nation. However, it is counterintuitive and damaging to push this issue into the light at the expense of organizations and individuals who are actively working to support members of the LGBTQ community.  

Editor’s Note: We corrected the error in Giulia Heyward’s story and apologize to Mr. Brown for misgendering him in the piece. Solstice East was the subject of numerous investigations by N.C. DHHS in 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021, including a 151-page report in 2020 that outlined numerous issues with medication management, restrictive interventions, isolating patients, and limiting contact between patients and families. The INDY found Seven Atsila to be a credible source.