Bans on conversion therapy for gay and lesbian youth have been taking place in many locales, and this week, Canada’s largest province went further by including trans* youth as well. Adults can still choose to seek treatment, but they can’t bill Ontario’s public health insurance plan (OHIP) for it.
Or as far right spokespeople are calling it, a “restrictive tyrannical bill that prevents children from getting the help they need and want with feelings and desires that are not welcome.”
The difference between point A and B, of course, is that the latter ascribes to the belief that sexual orientation and gender identity are at best a whimsical error, or at worst a serious mental illness that is abhorrent to society and must be cured at all cost. It assumes that it is possible to prevent a child from becoming gay, lesbian, bisexual or trans*, and is a parent’s right and duty to actively do so. It ignores the painful stories of people who have either willingly or were forced to undergo it:
“For Toronto man Mike Smith, his conversion therapy experience — which included a workbook convincing him his relationship with his family was dysfunctional, group therapy that involved bullying situations, and a prescription for drugs that would make him asexual — nearly drove him to suicide.
“… This program engrained in me that I was indeed broken and had to be fixed somehow,” he said. “There was a hopelessness and fear. If I wasn’t able to become straight, then there’s no reason for living.”
“The Ontario bill is dedicated to Leelah Alcorn, a transgender teen from Ohio who committed suicide in late 2014. She had blogged about being taken to “Christian therapists” who were “biased” and about her parents wanting her to be a “good little Christian boy….”
The bill specifically targets reparative therapy aimed at youth, specifically because of their vulnerable status, and the potential for them to be forced, coerced, shamed or otherwise manipulated into a treatment that has a proven track record of harm. Critics call it an infringement on both parental and religious rights, an argument which forgets the rights of the youth themselves.