Kenneth J. Zucker (born 1950) is an American psychologist whose ideology has caused profound harm to sex and gender minorities over the course of his long career. Zucker has created several disease models to describe these minorities. He has promoted many more sex and gender “disorders” via The Archives of Sexual Behavior, a journal he edits. He developed a non-affirming model of care for gender diverse children that has been described as “child abuse.” Zucker was fired by his employer CAMH in 2015, his clinic was shut down, and his model of care has now been outlawed in many jurisdictions.
I personally began working in earnest to get Zucker fired in 2007 after he defamed me in his journal. Below is the last major exposé I wrote prior to his firing:
The archival information below will be updated in the future to reflect events of the past few years.
Zucker was a psychologist at the Clarke Institute (aka “Jurassic Clarke”) in Toronto. Zucker is famous for forcing gender-diverse children into reparative therapy to conform to his expectations for male and female behavior in children. He considers transsexual women a “bad outcome” for gay men.
Zucker is a darling of the “ex-gay” movement because of his work “curing” gender-variant children. Here is a piece featuring his work via ex-gay group NARTH (National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuals):
Zucker promotes his NARTH-like notions of reparative therapy for kids with gender variance, reviewed here on another ex-gay site:
As the rest of the world begins to understand and accept gender variance as a difference and not a disease, Zucker is increasingly cast as the old-school holdout in press coverage.
Dr. Kenneth Zucker, a psychologist and head of the gender-identity service at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, disagrees with the “free to be” approach with young children and cross-dressing in public. Over the past 30 years, Dr. Zucker has treated about 500 preadolescent gender-variant children. In his studies, 80 percent grow out of the behavior, but 15 percent to 20 percent continue to be distressed about their gender and may ultimately change their sex.
Dr. Zucker tries to “help these kids be more content in their biological gender” until they are older and can determine their sexual identity — accomplished, he said, by encouraging same-sex friendships and activities like board games that move beyond strict gender roles.
Brown, Patricia Leigh (December 2, 2006). Supporting Boys or Girls When the Line Isn’t Clear. New York Times.
Zucker’s buddy J. Michael Bailey summarized Zucker’s ideas in the defamatory book The Man Who Would Be Queen:
Zucker thinks that an important goal of treatment is to help the children accept their birth sex and to avoid becoming transsexual. His experience has convinced him that if a boy with GID becomes an adolescent with GID, the chances that he will become an adult with GID and seek a sex change are much higher. And he thinks that the kind of therapy he practices helps reduce this risk. Zucker emphasizes a three-pronged treatment approach for boys with GID. First, he thinks that family dynamics play a large role in childhood GID—not necessarily in the origins of cross-gendered behavior, but in their persistence. It is the disordered and chaotic family, according to Zucker, that can’t get its act together to present a consistent and sensible reaction to the child, which would be something like the following: “We love you, but you are a boy, not a girl. Wishing to be a girl will only make you unhappy in the long run, and pretending to be a girl will only make your life around others harder.” So the first prong of Zucker’s approach is family therapy. Whatever conflicts or issues that parents have that prevent them from uniting to help their child must be addressed.
The second prong is therapy for the boy, to help him adjust to the idea that he cannot become a girl, and to help teach him how to minimize social ostracism. Zucker does not teach boys how to walk in a manly fashion, but he does give them feedback about the likely consequences of taking a doll to school.
The third prong is key. Zucker says simply: “The Barbies have to go.” He has nothing against Barbie dolls, of course. He means something more general. Feminine toys and accoutrements—including Barbie dolls, girls’ shoes, dresses, purses, and princess gowns—are no longer to be tolerated at home, much less bought for the child. Zucker believes that toleration and encouragement of feminine play and dress prevents the child from accepting his maleness. Common sense says that a boy who wants to play with dolls so much that he is willing to risk his father’s wrath and his peers’ scorn is unlikely to change his behavior due to inconsistent feedback, sometimes forbidding, sometimes tolerating, and sometimes even encouraging it. Inconsistent parenting like this is ineffective in stamping out any kind of unwanted behavior.
Failure to intervene increases the chances of transsexualism in adulthood, which Zucker considers a bad outcome. … Why put boys at risk for this when they can become gay men happy to be men?
J. Michael Bailey, The Man Who Would Be Queen (2003), pp. 31-32.
Zucker found several predictors of adolescent GID: lower IQ, lower social class, immigrant status, non-intact family, and childhood behavior problems unrelated to gender identity disorder. Obviously, none of these factors can be considered very specific. Parental divorce and low social class are both very common, and most males who experience them do not become transsexual. The factors do, however, suggest a common theme: early adversity. I will speculate later about what this might mean. When I have discussed the theory that homosexual transsexuals are a type of gay man, I have met resistance. I was surprised at this, for the idea is neither new nor, it seemed to me, controversial. Some of the resistance was emotional. People who believe that homosexuality is not a disorder tend to dislike the implication that a subset of homosexuals are disordered.
J. Michael Bailey, The Man Who Would Be Queen (2003), pp. 178-179.
Zucker was listed on a show about homosexuality with J. Michael Bailey and his usual suspects. Bailey replaced Zucker as an officer at the International Academy of Sex Research, publishers of the Archives of Sexual Behavior. This publication is the source for nearly all problematic “science” produced on gender variance in the English language.
The Sex Files
IN THIS EPISODE
Why are some people gay? That’s the $64,000 question – at least in the scientific community. Is it something genetically predetermined? Or does environment have an impact on whether an individual turns out to be gay or lesbian? These questions are beginning to be probed in ways that might finally be leading to an answer, and the Sex Files has interviewed the foremost authorities on the topic to uncover some of those scientific clues:
Dr. Devendra Singh, University of Texas psychologist specializing in the evolutionary significance of human physical attractiveness
Dr. Ken Zucker, head of the Child and Adolescent Gender Identity Clinic at the University of Toronto’s Clarke Institute of Psychiatry
Dr. Ray Blanchard, head of the Clinical Sexology program at the University of Toronto’s Clarke Institute of Psychiatry
Dr. Michael Bailey, professor of psychology at Northwestern University in Illinois and specialist in the genetics and environment of sexual orientation
Dr. Marc Breedlove, professor of psychology* specialising in the sexual differentiation of the brain.
* The original episode guide described Dr. Breedlove as a “professor of psychology at UCLA.” Dr. Breedlove noted in 2008 “I am not, and have never been, a professor of psychology or of anything else at UCLA.” Breedlove earned his Ph.D. at UCLA but taught at UC Berkeley before taking an appointment at Michigan State.
$325,000+ in salaries for Zucker & Blanchard to pathologize trans people
Transgender taxpayers in Canada help foot the bill for their own pathologization, helping to pay nearly $328,000 in 2008 to two conservative Toronto psychologists working to turn back the clock on the rights of sex and gender minorities worldwide.Public disclosure documents show that Ray Blanchard was paid over $172,000 in 2008, and Kenneth Zucker was paid over $155,500. Both men work at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto. This former “lunatic asylum” is home to the most notorious and regressive facility in the world dedicated to preventing and “curing” gender non-conforming behavior in children and adults.
Both Blanchard and Zucker are also heavily involved in the political push within psychology to continue labeling sex and gender minorities as disordered and diseased. Homosexuality was depathologized in 1973, but these men have an obvious and substantial financial interest in not just maintaining the status quo, but in expanding the definitions of sexual “disorders” that can be applied to all people. Their CAMH clinics are major recipients of taxpayer funds via the provincial and federal healthcare systems in Canada, so more “disordered” people mean more money for their clinics and themselves.
Both men are not just driven by money. They are also driven by a desire to promote their own reactionary beliefs about sex and gender minorities.
Zucker is the world’s foremost proponent of reparative therapy for gender-variant youth. The few clinics that do this reparative therapy treat up to 30 times more children assigned as boys at birth. This remarkable statistic reflects the deeper hatred of boys who are “too feminine.” Zucker considers transsexualism a bad outcome for these children and blames poor family dynamics and maternal psychopathology for gender-nonconforming behavior. He claims this phenomenon is more likely in non-white children with lower IQs. Zucker’s therapy for these children includes forcing them to stop wearing pink or purple, or creating art with those colors. He also prohibits playing with or drawing pictures of girls. Parents are expected to enforce this behavior through withholding attention and affection until the children conform.
Blanchard seeks a broad expansion of the definition of “paraphilia” to include anyone attracted to someone who is not “phenotypically normal.” Under such a definition, being attracted to people who are obese, disabled, or even taller or shorter than “normal” could be reduced to a paraphilic disorder. Blanchard reserves special contempt for transsexual women, for whom he has created a rigid taxonomy in which they are either a type of gay man or a sexually obsessed fetishist. He once declared to the Toronto Globe and Mail that a transsexual woman who has transitioned is merely “a man without a penis,” echoing his fixation on “phallometrics,” the measurement of penile length, width, and tumescence when subjects are exposed to erotic stimuli. The field of “phallometrics” was developed by Blanchard’s mentor at CAMH to determine if army recruits were gay or not. Blanchard, who has not disclosed his own sexual orientation publicly, is considered an expert in determining the size and tumescence of male genitalia.
Decades of self-preservation and self-promotion
American citizens Blanchard and Zucker left the United States for Canada in the midst of the Vietnam War, then stayed in Canada after President Ford declared amnesty for draft evaders. This instinct for self-preservation is echoed in their efforts to keep taxpayer money flowing into their clinics. They frequently claim in their defense that they support medical procedures for trans people, but that is because any tax money allotted for that went directly to their clinics. Their support of these procedures meant more money for them. When they did control all acccess to trans health services in Ontario, they rejected more than 90% of applicants at their clinics and were known for long wait lists and regressive requirements. This led most trans people in Canada to seek health services from other sources. CAMH’s own Diversity Program Office published a report critical of their approach and attitudes toward the trans people they are paid to serve. They have responded to criticisms from outside their organization by using CAMH lawyers to threaten SLAPP suits. In one instance, they threatened Professor Lynn Conway with a libel suit for simply posting a link to another website.
Both men have methodically worked to shore up their job security over the years by politicking their way into key positions at organizations that set policy around sex and gender minorities. Zucker and Blanchard are hoping to codify their ideologies in the 2012 edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Both are on the committee dealing with sex and gender “disorders” along with several like-minded associates. They seek deeper entrenchment of existing “diseases” and a broad expansion of concepts like “paraphilia” to include attraction to anyone who is not “phenotypically normal.” By most accounts, their efforts will likely be rewarded, and their worldview will be codified for more than a decade. The next edition of the DSM would not be published until after both men are retirement age in the 2020s.
Any funding secured for trans health directly benefits them
Though many in the Ontario transgender community have been critical of these men for years, activists have had limited success. That’s because most funding for trans health services goes directly to CAMH, who’ve had a controlling monopoly over the lives of trans people. Until the tax dollars that keep these bigots in business are diverted to better options, any funding victory for trans people in Ontario will be an even bigger victory for CAMH and its employees.
Effectively, the Ontario Ministry of Health is subsidizing the pathologization and stigmatization of transgender people worldwide by funding these CAMH “experts.” It’s time to let Ontario legislators know the harm they are doing to trans people worldwide. Once CAMH is out of the picture, trans people will be able to move toward true equality and access to health services for all.
Ray Blanchard on transsexualism
Kenneth J. Zucker on transsexualism
“Drop the Barbie”: Ken Zucker’s reparatist treatment of gender-variant children
Petition: “Objection to DSM-V Committee Members on Gender Identity Disorders”
Petition: “To the Honourable George Smitherman, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care for Ontario – Against human rights violations of apparently gender variant children and adults”
GID Reform Now Protest At Annual APA Meeting
“The War Within: CAMH scathing internal report Zucker’s and Blanchard’s gender clinics
Dr. Kenneth Zucker’s War on Transgenders
Kenneth Zucker’s legal threats: Part of a pattern of silencing transgender critics
Close the CAMH Gender Identity Clinic group on Facebook
Gender Madness in American Psychiatry: Essays from the Struggle for Dignity