CAMH Supports Bill 77 Despite Criticism of Controversial Gender Identity Clinic

Torontoist

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CAMH Supports Bill 77 Despite Criticism of Controversial Gender Identity Clinic

CAMH is currently going through an external six-month review to respond to LGBTQ complaints. Results are expected this summer.

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The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health says it “welcome[s] the unanimous support for Bill 77,” an Ontario private members bill banning LGBTQ conversion therapy that became law this month, even in light of criticism of its child and youth gender identity clinic.

“It is advancing the effort for a much-needed conversation on how best to support these children and their families,” media spokesperson Kate Richards wrote in an email statement to Torontoist.

The child and youth gender clinic, founded by Dr. Kenneth Zucker and Dr. Susan Bradley, has been widely denounced for its alleged use of conversion therapy on those who identify as transgender. CAMH maintains that the clinic does not practice this controversial therapy; rather, “the aim of the service is… to decrease stress, anxiety and upset in young people struggling with their gender identity,” Richards wrote. CAMH medical director Kwame McKenzie reiterated this to CTV’s Canada AM in March.

But in 2006, a National Public Radio story recounted the experience of one family treated by Zucker. The family claims the doctor recommended they “radically change their parenting” and not allow their 10-year-old son to play with certain toys and be with female friends after Zucker diagnosed him with gender identity disorder. In an interview with the National Post, Zucker also claimed his therapy would prevent children from growing up transgender.

A petition to eliminate Zucker’s “reparative therapy” practices from CAMH circulated online, garnering more than 2,000 signatures.

In February, the clinic launched an external six-month review in response to complaints from Rainbow Health Ontario, a province-wide program that promotes improved health services for LGBTQ individuals.

“The review will look at our current therapeutic approaches for children and youth with gender identity issues in the broader context of newly emerging treatment modalities and international best practice standards,” Richards wrote.

Parkdale-High Park MPP Cheri DiNovo tabled Bill 77 after RHO issued its complaints, and Richards added the review “is in no way a response to this bill.” When asked if the bill was targeting Zucker during its tabling on March 11, DiNovo also told media the proposed legislation was “not just based in the work one practitioner.”

In March, Bradley, now affiliated with the University of Toronto, penned a letter claiming Bill 77 “infringes on [a] patient’s and parent’s rights to seek appropriate treatments for their children,” according to NOW Magazine. Zucker and Bradley have also written extensively on the alleged benefits of conversion therapy. Zucker remains head of the clinic.

McKenzie told the Toronto Star that the clinic review is slated to be finished this summer. McKenzie was not available for comment to Torontoist.

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