Hello, and thank you to the committee for inviting me here as a witness. Thank you to my mom, Vicki Hartley, for loving and supporting me through all this.
My name is Erika Muse and I am a survivor of trans conversion therapy. I underwent conversion therapy at the now-closed youth gender clinic at the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health, CAMH, in Toronto, with Kenneth Zucker. Yes, that is the same Kenneth Zucker who spoke to you on Tuesday, painting himself as a semi-retired professional and academic arguing for the rights of trans youth.
Dr. Zucker saw me as a patient for seven years, from the ages of 16 to 23, and denied me trans-affirming health care in the form of both hormones and surgery until I was 22. Dr. Zucker instead put me through what he has termed “desistance treatment” for trans youth. He interrogated me in talk therapy for hours at a time, inquisitorially attacking, damaging and attempting to destroy my identity and my self-esteem, and to make me ashamed and hateful of myself.
I specifically saw him in order to be referred for puberty blockers and trans hormone replacement therapy, as his clinic was the only one able to provide these treatments for many Ontarian youth at the time. Instead of providing affirmative care to fix my growing gender dysphoria and mental health issues, Zucker intentionally denied me care.
Trauma has cloaked many of my memories of the horrible treatment he put me through, but I remember the day he commented very positively on how my shoulders and ribcage had filled out. I had grown to look like a man. I remember trying not to cry in his office. Years into treatment, he had condemned me to the fate I wished to avoid, the very one I asked him every session to save me from. He made my body a prison and it is to this day.
Conversion therapy almost broke me and I live with its physical and emotional scars to this day, but I was only a small part of Zucker's practice. I spoke up as a survivor of his treatment for Ontario's Bill-77, which banned conversion therapy in Ontario. That bill led to his clinic being reviewed and shut down when the review found that he'd been practising conversion therapy and denying trans health care to the population he was meant to protect. Zucker now practises privately.
Furthermore, Zucker has written and published many scholarly articles and books on his conversion therapy practices for trans youth and has advocated for adult conversion therapy on trans people as well. He lied to you when he spoke on Tuesday. He practises conversion therapy on trans people to this day, on people of all ages, and he sees trans lives and trans existence as something to be hated and stopped.
I think he only gave up on trying to stop me when he realized he couldn't win, but he's still trying to hurt others. This is the most important thing I want you to know. Zucker attempted to change my gender identity both before and after I turned 18, and he never allowed for exploration, consideration or development of my gender. Instead, he worked as much as he could to stop me from being my true self.
Zucker and his colleagues are the international proponents and researchers of conversion therapy for trans people of all ages across the world. Canada exports our home-grown hatred to the rest of the world but Bill C-6 will delegitimize that and stop it from being spread further. Whatever these theories and papers call their practices—“autogynephilia”, “rapid-onset gender dysphoria”, “watchful waiting” or “desistance therapy”—by Zucker and Blanchard and Littman and Cantor and Bailey and Bradley, and so many others.
They all have one thing in common. They're all conversion therapies and practices for trans people. They're attempts to define being trans as wrong, bad and something to be stopped, and they are efforts to stop trans people from living our own lives.
There are many briefs in front of the committee stating that gender-affirming care is actually conversion therapy for gay, lesbian or bisexual youth and that gender identity should be removed from the purview of Bill C-6. I implore you, do not listen to them. These briefs and the testimony you heard yesterday and may hear in future sessions are based in research crafted through blood and agony and pain from me and the many other trans people who suffered for years at CAMH and who have suffered since.
I know because I'm in that study data, because Zucker asked me to be one of his participants and I had no right to refuse. This is a blight, a wound on the lives of trans people across the world. You can stop it, but you must go further to make sure it can't happen anymore. You must extend Bill C-6 to ban conversion therapy at all ages. Canadians cannot consent to fraudulent practices or to bodily and mental harm, and conversion therapy is a terrible harm.
You must further add language to the definition in Bill C-6 of conversion therapy so that practices cannot act to change someone's gender expression as well as their gender identity, to bring it into harmony with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. You must strike the greater certainty clauses from that definition, as Zucker and many other practitioners of conversion therapy against trans people present their services as part of exploring or developing a patient's gender identity.
I saw Zucker for a referral, a service related to my gender identity. That was what the youth gender clinic's purpose was in CAMH and in the Ontario health system. Instead, he used that power and that position to ruin my life, my body and my mind. The wounds that Zucker caused me can never be undone. I don't know if I'll be able to heal and feel right or whole, or right as a person, ever again. This Parliament, this committee can make sure it never happens to Canadian people, ever again.