Bill C-6 excludes conversion therapy practices that target trans people

Bill C-6, “An Act to amend the Criminal Code (conversion therapy)”, offers an important opportunity to reflect on conversion therapy1 practices that continue to adversely affect transgender, non-binary, Two-Spirit, queer, bisexual, lesbian, gay, and other gender and sexual diverse Canadians. We are heartened that the federal government is committed to addressing these traumatic practices; however, we are obliged to express our concerns about ways in which Bill C-6 fails to adequately define and prevent all forms of conversion therapy. We are particularly concerned about the inequitable impact the current version of the bill will have on trans2, non-binary, and gender-diverse Canadians.

In its current form, Bill C-6 narrowly defines conversion therapy, excluding practitioners who insist that they are not intending to “change a person’s… gender identity” but whose goal is nevertheless to discourage or delay the adoption of gender identities not assigned at birth, as well as non-conforming gender expressions. We specifically call for amendments to sections 320.101 (“definition of conversion therapy”), 320.101 (a) and (b) (“exclusions”), and 320.102 (2) (“forced conversion therapy”), in order to: include conversion therapy targeting gender expression; more clearly define conversion therapy as including practices that regard a gender identity not assigned at birth as disordered or less desirable; and assert that consent is not valid, if risks associated with conversion therapy are not clearly explained to the patient.

We urgently request this bill to be reevaluated and the federal government address conversion therapy practices that trans Canadians experience. In addition, we ask the government to communicate other proactive strategies that will be used—beyond legislative changes to the Criminal Code—to ensure equitable access to trans-affirming information and supports for trans people of all ages (including youth), as well as their families, communities, and service and support workers, across the country.