Open letter to the Senate of Canada

Dear Members of the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee, 

Canadian Gender Report represents parents of gender transitioning children in Canada. We would like to appear on Bill C4 should hearings be held. 

Canadian Gender Report denounces any forms of forced, coercive or degrading therapy intended to result in a change to one’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

We would like to ensure you are aware, however, of several key developments since Bill C6 was reviewed at the Justice Committee hearings. Most recently, WPATH (World Professional Association for Transgender Health) released new standards of care just a few days ago. The WPATH guidelines include a new chapter that deals with adolescents. WPATH has also conceded that there are unique developmental issues that must be considered for adolescents and little evidence to support medical treatment options. They state a “key challenge is quality of evidence for effectiveness of gender affirming care” and that “adolescents, parents, caregivers should be informed about the nature of the evidence base”. Further, they stipulate that it is “reasonable that decisions to move forward with medical care should be made carefully”. 

Parents are concerned that Bill C4 will further cement an unproven and poorly understood model of care in the Canadian healthcare system. The psychological assessments that WPATH advises are necessary are being phased out in Canada, and parents are concerned that co-occurring conditions are being overlooked in favour of fast-tracking children into hormonal and surgical interventions. For example, in their new standards of care, WPATH has recognized that autism can impact a young person’s experience of gender and should be taken into consideration in the assessment plan. Will Bill C4 allow healthcare clinicians to exercise professional autonomy and exercise caution when confronted with a possibly autistic teenager who desperately wants to change gender? Or is it more likely that the threat of jail time will severely restrict the care options that young Canadians and their parents are able to access such that unproven, yet invasive medical interventions become the new normal here? 

The Senate should also be aware of the growing international concern about the model of care being imposed in Canada, and the implications of including gender identity in a conversion therapy ban. Access to gender exploratory therapy, which this prominent WPATH clinician advocates for in a recent Washington Post op-ed, will become non-existent in Canada. (archived copy not behind a paywall)  The Senate might be interested in learning that this article details “sloppy care” practices and highlights Canada and our trend to phase out psychological assessments as a key example. 

The other major development that has happened since the justice committee reviewed Bill C6 last fall is that Sweden has all but halted medical gender transition for youth under 18. Pediatric gender clinics in Sweden voluntarily halted hormonal and surgical interventions for young people and have set up a national health registry to track outcomes for those exceptional cases where medical transition is deemed necessary. In light of international concerns, including from the incoming WPATH president who gave an exclusive interview here which has since been covered in The Economist and elsewhere, we recommend the Senate make absolutely certain that Bill C4 does not create a one-way-path to medical transition for Canadian children while making it impossible for decisions to move forward with medical care to be made carefully. 

It’s clear that the rest of the world is taking steps to understand and approach medical gender transition of young people with extreme caution. Bill C4 may move Canada in the opposite direction. Please consider a thorough review of Bill C4 and include the perspective of parents and detransitioners. 

3 thoughts on “Open letter to the Senate of Canada

  1. Given that this enshrines into law an “affirmation only” approach to therapy for gender dysphoric youth, the underlying problems of non-acceptance/rejection of gay & lesbian children by adults and society will be overlooked by counsellors. The imperative to affirm “gender” also misses a co-morbidity like autism. So the very harm that this legislation is supposed to protect gay, lesbian and autistic children from, will in fact be enabled, by fast-tracking the dysphoric to medically transitioning.
    In the case of gay and lesbian youth, this is called: “transing the Gay away”, the exact opposite of what an enlightened government would want for it’s people.

  2. Thank you. We do really need to take a step back here in Canada.. we need to think carefully about how we can protect transgender folk. We need to think carefully about the boundaries and intersections between their needs and the needs of people oriented to their own sex. And we need to be mindful that true emancipation of anyone must not place others without protection regarding their safety, their dignity, and their equality in all aspects of their lives.

    Women have struggled long and hard for the right to safe havens, woman’s only spaces, and equality.
    Yes we must foster transgender people so they flourish.
    However no one group can flourish at the expense of others. That is not what emancipation and freedom from oppression is about.
    Feeedom from oppression, safety nets and conditions that provide the support necessary to flourish for trans folk can not come at the expense of women’s freedom’s safety dignity and quality and the support required to flourish.

  3. It is sad that this excellent letter was never considered by the Senate, supposedly our Parliament’s assurance of a sober second thought. Their rush to approve this odious legislation was only matched by the earlier unanimous consent of the Commons, again ensuring that no evidence was reviewed or debated. A year later, gender conversion allowed by this legislation under the name of ‘gender affirmation’ has continued to proliferate along with a similar decline in parental rights, as documented on this website.
    What has not changed is that the public and the Canadian politicians that represent them are almost universally afraid to speak up and actually review all evidence before adopting such legislation. The proposed Ontario Bill 42 is an example of this; it is the next step on the path to further institutionalized gender affirmation paid by taxpayers. Similar to Bill C4, I could find no evidence that there has been any debate in the Ontario legislature. Given the apparent crisis in our health care system, it would be prudent to carefully examine moving forward with publicly funded health care interventions that will require expensive lifetime treatments at great opportunity cost to the health care system. Hopefully, Ontario constituents will speak up more forcefully to ensure that this legislation is never passed.

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