Conversion Therapy

Should parents,counsellors, doctors, and others be forbidden to help children love the body they are born with?
ARPA November 2019
Recently enacted or proposed conversion therapy bans forbid counselling that helps children and teens love their bodies and feel comfortable in their own skin. They prohibit particular methods of alleviating gender dysphoria, which an astonishing number of children now experience. In 2004, the number of referrals for transgender teens to clinics across Canada was in the single digits. By 2016, in just nine cities, over 1,000 teenagers were referred to “gender clinics”.1

Conversion therapy bans also condemn efforts to help someone manage unwanted sexual desires or urges. For example, a person may prefer to diminish feelings of same-sex attraction and enhance feelings of opposite-sex attraction in order to have a traditional family, for reasons of religion or conscience, or for other legitimate personal reasons that the state should respect.

Ontario (2015) and Manitoba (2015) ban “conversion therapy” by health care practitioners. Nova Scotia (2018) prohibits the practice by both health care practitioners and parents or guardians.2 Vancouver (2018) and St. Albert (2019) prohibit commercial space from being used for conversion therapy on minors.3 Proposed bans have been tabled but not yet passed in British Columbia and Canada’s Senate.4 All of these bans are overly broad, because all of them are unclear on what “conversion therapy” means.

This report recommends policies that prevent dangerous forms of conversion therapy and respect people’s freedom to seek a variety of counselling supports for struggles related to identity, sexuality, and gender

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