Delist LGBTQIA Conversion Therapy from the Ontario Health Insurance Plan
This petition made change with 327 supporters!
*NEW EDIT Jan. 26, 2015*: The Ontario MPP (Member of Provincial Parliament) Catherine Fife has taken an interest in this petition. One of her staffers has created a downloadable version in the format and phrasing that is acceptable to the Ontario government. Ontario residents can download it at http://catherinefife.com/wp-content/uploads/catherinefife.com/2015/01/2015-01-petition-Dangerous-Therapies1.pdf, collect signatures, and mail them to:
Catherine Fife MPP
Room 154, Main Legislative Building
Toronto ON M7A 1A5
While the Ontario government does not technically accept digital petitions, or signatures on downloadable printed petitions from non-Ontario residents, signatures here are still valuable as a show of public support. Non-Ontario residents can also share the downloadable petition with people and organizations in Ontario as well as signing here.
On Sunday, December 27, 2014, Leelah Alcorn, a 17-year-old transgender youth, wrote a suicide note, posted it on her Tumblr (archived here), and then committed suicide. In her last posts, Leelah explained how her parents had forced her to attend conversion therapy (therapy designed to change someone’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression), pulled her out of school, and isolated her in an attempt to change her gender identity. Leelah wrote:
“My death needs to be counted in the number of transgender people who commit suicide this year. I want someone to look at that number and say “that’s fucked up” and fix it. Fix society. Please.”
To further the goal of fixing society for people like Leelah, this petition is directed to the government of Ontario, Canada, and asks for conversion therapy for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, and asexual people to be made ineligible for Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) funding. This would mean that doctors, along with psychologists, social workers, and other health professionals who bill the province for the care they provide, would no longer be able to provide conversion therapy with public funding.
'Conversion therapies' are well documented as being extremely harmful. While transgender people have high rates of suicide and suicide attempts, a recent study found that transgender youth aged 16 to 24 have a 93% lower suicide rate if their parents are strongly supportive of their gender identity than if their parents do not support their gender identity at all. Conversion therapy manipulates people into denying essential parts of their identities. It is a psychologically devastating form of emotional (and, with religiously motivated conversion therapy, spiritual) abuse.
Unfortunately, conversion therapy for transgender and gender-variant children is currently practiced with OHIP funding at the Gender Identity Service clinic in the Child, Youth, and Family Program at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto, Ontario, which is headed by Dr. Kenneth Zucker. In 2012, Zucker and colleagues describe the therapy they provide as follow: “If the parents… would like to reduce their child’s desire to be of the other gender, the therapeutic approach is organized around this goal.” Jake Pyne provides more information about this clinic in NOW Toronto.
All major professional associations of mental health care providers condemn conversion therapy for gay, lesbian, and bisexual people and for transgender adults. Most condemn it for transgender children as well.
“Conversion or reparative therapy, where attempts are made to turn gay males or lesbians into heterosexuals, are clearly unethical and should not be provided by physicians, nor should physicians refer patients for such therapy.”
“In Canada, there has been a history of pathologizing research and treatment conducted on gender diverse children. In keeping with emerging research and informed practices, the following principles reflect the joint position on how social work practitioners, researchers and educators should respond to gender diverse youth.
- Gender diversity must be respected as an expression of human diversity. Gender diverse young people are to be affirmed as the gender they understand themselves to be.
- Gender identity is a core aspect of the self. Any professional’s attempt to alter the gender identity or expression of a young person to align with social norms is considered unethical and an abuse of power and authority. Specifically, social workers should reject any attempt to prevent a child from growing up to be transgender, transsexual, two-spirit, gay, lesbian, bisexual or queer.”
“The Canadian Psychological Association affirms that all adolescent and adult persons have the right to define their own gender identity regardless of chromosomal sex, genitalia, assigned birth sex, or initial gender role. Moreover, all adolescent and adult persons have the right to free expression of their self-defined gender identity.
The Canadian Psychological Association opposes stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination on the basis of chromosomal sex, genitalia, assigned birth sex, or initial gender role, or on the basis of a self-defined gender identity or the expression thereof in exercising all basic human rights.”
“APA calls upon psychologists in their professional roles to provide appropriate, nondiscriminatory treatment to transgender and gender variant individuals and encourages psychologists to take a leadership role in working against discrimination towards transgender and gender variant individuals.”
“People seek mental health services for many reasons. Accordingly, it is fair to assert that lesbians and gay men seek therapy for the same reasons that heterosexual people do. However, the increase in media campaigns,
often coupled with coercive messages from family and community members, has created an environment in which lesbians and gay men often are pressured to seek reparative or conversion therapies, which cannot and will not change sexual orientation. Aligned with the American Psychological Association’s (1997) position, [the National Committee on Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Issues of the NASW] believes that such treatment potentially can lead to severe emotional damage.”
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