Madam Speaker, it is a privilege to rise on this issue. I understand that the opinions to counter this bill are not as numerous as the opinions in favour of it, but they are nonetheless no less important.
When I was watching the debate ensue at committee, I was not a part of the committee, but as an interested parliamentarian, I watched all of it. The debate with respect to witnesses and so forth was rather even-handed. I did not count the number of witnesses who raised concerns, versus those who were in favour of it, but there were plenty of professionals and other individual people who brought up real situations which would be technically against the letter of the law according to this, but I think we would all agree are legitimate concerns. I just want to, as best as I can, address those today. Ten minutes is not sufficient for that, but I will do my very best. Of course, time is lacking to do much of what we need to do in this House.
I am in support of a ban on harmful counselling. There are many other jurisdictions, governments and cities around the world that have banned conversion therapy, but in a different way. They have different definitions that are far less broad. Of course, many of them, if not all, outside of a few, are not criminal in nature. I think it is problematic when we have a very broad definition that is also criminal because we want to ban harmful courses of practice, but we do not want to put people in jail who, frankly, do not deserve to be there.
As others have raised before, we want to be entirely certain that what we are targeting is, in fact, the evil that we are looking to target and not be overbroad in that ban. I am a little bit concerned that the assumptions that underpin this bill are faulty. When not all, but some of the assumptions are faulty we can be led astray. I just want to take issue with some of them.
The first is the myth that Bill C-6's definition of conversion therapy accurately identifies treatments that will be harmful and does so in a way that is not overbroad. I think, of course, that there are abusive practices out there and I think that we should aim to ban them, but what Bill C-6 has done here is to basically, in my view, when looking at the definition, outlaw any validated form of talk therapy for Canadians wishing to deal with various issues related to sexual attraction and gender identity. For those who would like to look into the proceedings of the committee, there are many examples of very credible witnesses who have gone through circumstances where they needed counselling to address certain things and their stories are credible. I do not have time to go through them all, but members can look at them.
I also want to say that with respect to transgender identification, particularly in children, there is a conversation going on globally right now that we are missing in this debate on Bill C-6.
In the U.K., the Government Equalities Office for example, is looking into whether the influence of social media and the discussion of gender identity with young people have contributed to the striking increase in referrals. When I get into some of the data here on the striking increase, I think we could all agree that there is something here that needs to be looked at. In the last 10 years, in the United Kingdom, which mirrors data from other countries, we have seen referrals to these gender clinics skyrocket. We have seen them increase by about 1,000% for boys and 4,400% for biological females.
These exponential rises, as I have said, are increasing in other western nations as well. We heard one of the members earlier speak about the United Kingdom High Court ruling with respect to Keira Bell. Keira Bell is one of the young women who was referred to the Tavistock institute, which is the clinic there that deals with gender referrals for gender identity. She was told that, if she went through the process, she would feel better about herself, so she went on to hormone blockers. She had a double mastectomy. She spent several years living, outwardly looking like a man, and she came to regret it. She was in her early twenties. She took the Tavistock institute to court saying she was not in a position where she could consent to this treatment, but was basically told that this would be the answer she needed to her life. It did not make anything better and, in fact, it made a lot of things worse.
The court ruled that people under 16 could likely not consent to puberty-blocking treatments. This bill does the opposite. This bill says that if someone wants to put their child on hormone blockers or if they want to basically put them on the road to surgery, that is totally fine, but to give them the wrong type of counselling could get them in trouble.
Some people would say that there is a clause in the bill that allows people to explore. However, the fact is we heard from very competent professionals in committee that this clause would not be enough, when there is potentially a five-year jail term hanging over people's head.
We heard from Ken Zucker, an internationally renowned expert in gender identity. He was basically working with our clinic here, CAMH, for decades. He is internationally renowned in this field. He has literally written the book on how to treat gender identity in children. He was accused of conversion therapy a few years ago. He was fired from his position, summarily. He had the wherewithal and the resources to take his employer to court. He won a substantial settlement. He cleared his name.
This is the type of thing that we are seeing, before Bill C-6. If this is the sort of witch hunt environment we are seeing before Bill C-6, it is going to increase significantly with Bill C-6.
Other than the U.K., we are seeing other countries in Europe, Sweden and Finland, have gone even a step further. They are moving away from what is called affirmation-only models of care, which I suggest is what Bill C-6 is, this is what other professionals in committee said about this bill. In Sweden and Finland, they are saying there must be a sober second look when a child identifies as transgender. A sober second look is the very thing that I believe Bill would criminalize.
Bill C-6 would criminalize parents who want to discourage their young child from transitioning, who would not be making life-altering decisions. I do not believe it is hateful for a parent to make a decision based on accurate medical facts.
When it comes to transgender identification in children, reliable data indicates the vast majority of kids who identify as another gender would grow out of it, meaning by the time they become an adult, many of up them, up to 80% according to some studies, will identify or accept the body they were born with. I think that given data like that, we really need to give a lot of room here for kids to explore but not to push them on this one-track mode of puberty blockers and eventually surgery. This is what is being criticized by people like Keira Bell.
I read an article in the National Post a year or so ago by Barbara Kay that highlighted the story of a young girl, JB is the acronym used, a child who is currently involved in an application in the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. This involves a teacher in an Ottawa area school who told this six year-old that girls do not exist. This six-year-old was a happy, loving young girl. I have a seven-year-old, a six-year-old and a five-year-old. The seven- and five-year-olds are girls.
This six-year-old became distraught, withdrawn and depressed. She did not understand what it meant. The parents asked the teacher if she could just cool it on some of these ethereal gender theory comments. The teacher and administration refused to do this, and the parents had to take that girl out of that school. They moved her to a different school, and have taken this particular school board to court.
The girl is once again a happy, well-adjusted young girl. It just goes to show that we have to be careful what we are putting into the minds of our young children. What the U.K. high court case found is that once these kids were put onto these drugs, the hormone blockers, it pretty much puts them on the road to surgery. It is kind of like a one-track street.
We need to be very careful. We need to have a sober second look in this country.
There are in fact many people, even in LGB communities, who are against this bill. I will read an email I received. It said:
Dear Mr. Derek Sloan,
As a Lesbian, I am asking you to investigate the use of gender identity in bill C-6. Approximately 75% of trans identifying youth will grow up to be gay or lesbian, if not affirmed and medically transitioned. This bill, as written, ensures that these gay and lesbian youth will be medically transitioned into straight adults.
She goes on to say:
Please protect vulnerable Gay and Lesbian youth from being told that they are“born in the wrong body” and told they should transition to feel “right” and to “fit in”. Sincerely...