• A British trans woman said she was strapped to a chair and electrocuted at a hospital 50 years ago after she attempted to kill herself
  • She claimed U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has "blood on his hands" if the government doesn't ban transgender conversion therapy
  • The remarks came after Johnson vowed to ban conversion therapy for gay people but not for transgender people

A 74-year-old transgender woman in England who was electrocuted while undergoing conversion therapy more than five decades ago has criticized British Prime Minister Boris Johnson after the official vowed to ban the practice for gay people but not for transgender people.

Carolyn Mercer was 17 when she was strapped to a wooden chair and given electric shocks at a National Health Service (NHS) hospital more than 50 years ago, Metro reported. Pictures of women were also shown in front of her, according to the outlet.

"The pain shot through my body, my arm shot up in the air. This was repeated. They tried to make me associate pain with who I saw myself as being, who I wanted to be," said Mercer, who was born biologically male.

Mercer said that when she was 3 years old, she started switching clothes with her younger sister and hoped that someone "could invent a brain transplant."

She then learned about transgender people when she stumbled on a "nasty piece" in a Sunday newspaper at the age of 14.

Mercer said her confusion turned into self-hatred, and she grew suicidal at the thought of continuing to live as a man. A psychiatrist later promised "to cure" Mercer after she attempted to kill herself.

"That's what I wanted because it seemed so wrong, so odd. I was a freak, I wasn't normal," Mercer said.

She stopped seeking "help" following six hour-long sessions because she initially hoped they had been successful.

While "everything looked wonderful" from the outside as Mercer married her wife, had two children and became the second-youngest headteacher in Britain, she said she was "falling apart" inside.

She trembled whenever she thought of the electric shock chair and drank vodka until she vomited on weekends. Additionally, Mercer struggled with depression and began to think it was better for her family if she took her own life.

"When the treatment was over, the thing that hurt me most was not the memory, not the pain, not the tears. What hurt me most at the time is that it didn’t work," Mercer explained.

Mercer said she later realized she had to "stop destroying herself." She shared her secret with her children and began taking hormones in the early 1990s.

The activist remained "determined" despite being briefly suspended from her job when she was "outed" in the national press in 1994, and she completed her physical transition in the 2000s.

However, Mercer said she is still "struggling" due to her conversion therapy. "The only person I’ve ever hated is myself. The conversion practice depressed all of my positive emotions. Even now, I have real difficulty feeling them," she said.

Mercer has since warned Johnson that he would have "blood on his hands" if the British government bans gay conversion therapy while maintaining the legality of the practice toward transgender people.

She suggested that ministers try the practice and "see if they still think it's acceptable" for transgender folk.

Johnson, for his part, defended his decision and argued that banning transgender conversion therapy would be harmful to children who have doubts about their gender, a report by the Independent said.

"This is a legally complex area and we have a responsibility to ensure unintended consequences are not written into legislation, particularly in the case of under 18s," a government spokesperson was quoted as saying.

Mercer claimed that the government simply "[doesn't] want to do it" because "if there was a will, the conservative government could work the complexities out easily."

If you have thoughts of suicide, confidential help is available for free at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Call 1-800-273-8255. The line is available 24 hours, every day.

Gay 'conversion therapy' can inflict lasting harm, a UN expert says
Gay 'conversion therapy' can inflict lasting harm, a UN expert says AFP / Michal CIZEK