Canada has quickly transformed into one of the most progressive countries in the world on gender identity and expression. This is thanks to decades of hard work by activists, legislators, and helping professionals.
The shift can be directly traced to the 2015 staffing changes at the conservative gender clinic at Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). For nearly 50 years, practitioners at that clinic:
- promoted rigid gatekeeping for trans healthcare
- created diseases to describe trans people and those who love us
- developed a non-affirming model of care for gender expansive children
They turned Toronto into the global epicenter for the academic exploitation of sex and gender minorities. For half a century, they damaged trans people the world over through their influence. It took legislation to remove them from power.
Of the hundreds of people who worked to end CAMH’s devastating impact on trans healthcare, I want to acknowledge Ontario MPP Cheri DiNovo, who helped pass two critical pieces of legislation:
- Bill 33, or Toby’s Law (2012), outlawing discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression
- Bill 77 (2105) banning CAMH-style “therapy” on gender-expansive children
Bill 77 led to the investigation and closure of CAMH’s gender clinic and firing of program head Kenneth Zucker. CAMH now has new affirming policies and staff in place.
In 2019 Canada rejected a federal ban on gender identity change efforts, but according to CBC, some provinces had placed restrictions:
- Ontario has made the practice illegal by initiating an outright ban.
- Manitoba has outlawed health professionals from offering conversion therapy.
- Vancouver has passed a law restricting businesses from offering it.
- Nova Scotia has made it it illegal for health professionals to provide conversion therapy for minors.
Federal law and policy
Following federal legislation passed in 2016, Alberta, British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario, and Quebec all added options for transgender youth who want to change their name and gender designation on legal documents.
Bill C-16 (PDF)
- An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) (canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship)
- Change the sex on your passport:
Immigration, Réfugiés et Citoyenneté Canada (IRCC) (canada.ca/fr/immigration-refugies-citoyennete)
- Changer la désignation de sexe dans votre passeport ou document de voyage:
Gender Creative Kids/ Enfants transgeneres (gendercreativekids.ca)
- Canadian Parents of Trans and Gender Diverse Kids/Parents canadiens d’enfants trans is a national, bilingual, confidential peer support group for parents of transgender, two-spirit, gender creative, and gender-questioning children and youth.
Canadian Professional Association for Transgender Health – CPATH (cpath.ca)
- Interdisciplinary professional organization which works to support the health, wellbeing, and dignity of trans and gender diverse people.
United Food and Commercial Workers Union – UFCW (ufcw.ca)
- The Union Pride section includes a helpful map of publicly-funded trans healthcare by province.
World Professional Association of Transgender Health (wpath.org)
- Member search: Canada
Resources by province or territory
Those living in the north have options for telemedicine and Northern Health Travel Grants in some cases. Contact your healthcare provider for more information.
- British Columbia
- New Brunswick
- Newfoundland and Labrador
- Northwest Territories
- Nova Scotia
- Prince Edward Island
The Canada section of Transgender Map is dedicated to trans activist Kyle Scanlon (1971–2012). Kyle worked at The 519, an important local alternative to CAMH’s regressive ideology. While at CAMH trying to address the many problems with their models of care in 2003, Kyle was interrupted during his presentation by CAMH employee James Cantor. In 2008, Kyle described the incident:
Cantor was made to apologize to me in a letter, but there he was also clever to apologize for my feeling harassed and did not in any way acknowledge he harassed me. Like I said, semantics. I definitely was told this would stay on his file for 7 years.
Kyle did not live to see the day that his work would help lead to the closure of the CAMH gender clinic. Rest in power, Kyle.