Therapist raises concerns over Canadian bill to make body affirmation illegal

Hand holding a paper sheet with transgender symbol and equal sign inside. | Getty

A Christian therapist is raising concerns about a bill that's being debated in the Canadian Parliament would ban counseling sessions in which therapists affirm a patient's decision not to seek gender transition and accept the body they were born with.

Video footage released this week shows examples of therapy sessions that might soon be illegal if Bill C-8, which would ban what is derisively known as "conversion therapy," is passed and signed into law. 

In the videos, therapist Ann Gillies affirms a minor girl from Alberta, named "Rachel," in her decision not to undergo the transition process and encourages her to accept herself as a female.

The Canadian government defines so-called conversion therapy as any "service, practice or treatment designed to change a person’s sexual orientation to heterosexual, gender identity to one that matches the sex assigned at birth, or to repress or reduce non heterosexual sexual attraction or sexual behaviors.”

Gilles, a retired therapist from Ontario, says the government's definition is not used by official health associations, such as the Canadian Psychological Association. With the inclusion of the phrase about reducing non-heterosexual attractions or behaviors, the law prevents people from being therapeutically supported should they desire to remain celibate or opt not to undergo a gender transition.

“Canadians want to ensure that any adult or child will be protected from torture or coercion,” Gillies said in a statement shared with The Christian Post.

“However, the federal law does not even use those words in defining ‘conversion therapy.’ And those practices are already banned under the criminal code. This law also makes no distinction between 5-year-olds and mature minors who should be able to choose their support.”

Rachel, whose face is blurred in the video, was only 12 when she started socially transitioning by dressing and acting like a boy at school. She had considered physical changes to her body after feeling pressured by teachers and students at school to transition.

“When you come out as transgender, everyone is so accepting. But when you come out as cis, everyone turns their back on you,” the girl explains in the video.

The prefix "cis" is from the hard sciences that means "same side" and is often used in gender parlance to indicate a gender identity that is aligned with one's biological sex.

Confused and suicidal from all the pressure at school, Rachel, with the support of parents and others, chose not to start chemically transitioning, which might have included the use of non-reversible puberty blockers and the use of synthetic hormones in high doses.

“We need to support Canadians, regardless of how they choose to identify,” Gillies added.

“This law discriminates against 'Rachel,' preventing people like her from choosing their support.”

The release of the videos coincides with the ongoing debate over Bill C-8, which proposes adding five new offenses to the national criminal code, including: "causing a minor to undergo conversion therapy, removing a minor from Canada to undergo conversion therapy abroad, causing a person to undergo conversion therapy against their will, profiting from providing conversion therapy, and advertising an offer to provide conversion therapy," according to a news release from the Depart of Justice in Canada.

Courts will also be authorized to order that ads for such therapies be taken down from computer systems or on the internet.

Some Canadian municipalities have already implemented such bans. The national proposal is seen as the most restrictive in the world.

These new offenses would not apply to those providing support to individuals questioning their sexual orientation, sexual feelings or gender identity, such as teachers, school counselors, pastoral counselors, faith leaders, physicians, mental health professionals, friends or family members.

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