PFC NEWS ALERT, April 13, 2007:
Gender clinic event disrupted by trans activists
From: "Christine Burns"
Canada is fast becoming a place to watch as the movement to
depathologise gender variation hots up. What makes the controversy
around Kenneth Zucker all the more relevant to grown up trans people is
the fact that he is a key member of the working group that was
supposedly established by the American Psychological Association to look
at trans people's concerns. With their report more than a year overdue,
and with the principals now no longer answering to email messages, the
only thing the Canadian and US psychological establishment seems to be
capable of doing is *generating* rather than addressing concerns...
(ed. note: see related story "Drop
Boys will be girls
LOCAL NEWS / Gender idenity clinic event disrupted by trans activists
Audrey Gagnon / Xtra / Thursday, April 12, 2007
On the morning of Mar 29 a group of trans activists crashed a
celebration honouring Susan Bradley, the founder of the Child And
Adolescent Gender Identity Clinic at Toronto's Centre For Addiction And
Mental Health (CAMH).
The featured speaker of the event was Kenneth Zucker, a psychologist and
current head of the gender identity clinic. He's known for promoting
reparative therapy for gender-variant children, which teaches kids to
conform to society's expectations of female and male behaviour. His work
is heavily promoted by notorious ex-gay group the National Association
For Research And Therapy Of Homosexuals.
"Dr Zucker has never left himself in a position where the community
could ask him questions," says trans activist Tina Strang. She and 519
Trans Programs coordinator Kyle Scanlon had issued a call to action via
e-mail two days before the event, urging trans people and their allies
to attend the lecture and voice their concerns.
"We got a chance to hand out pamphlets to audience members that were not
necessarily part of our group," says Scanlon. "We got a chance to share
our ideas and ask our questions."
Minutes before the opening speeches begin, more than a dozen trans
activists squeezed in the back door of Room 1527 at the Hospital For
Sick Children's department of psychiatry. Zucker's lecture, entitled
Gender Identity Disorder In Children And Adolescents: Lessons Learned,
included a series of photos of sad-looking little girls and boys in
various states of gender confusion.
At one point he showed a photo taken at a Rosedale-area Barbie-themed
birthday party. Pictured was a little girl in a fireman outfit, clearly
out of place amidst the halfdozen other girls dressed up as Barbie.
Zucker used this image to affirm the suffering and alienation brought on
"She thinks she's a fireman," Zucker told the audience, gravely.
Near the end of his lecture, Zucker criticized the "free to be"
approach, which advocates parents allow their children to explore their
"If a child doesn't want to go to school, or do their homework should we
not step in and tell them what to do?" asked Zucker.
"That is not the same thing," objected Strang from the audience.
After the lecture, Strang said she felt empowered after being able to
object to Zucker publicly, but that she wishes she'd said more.
"Because I had never heard him speak before, I wanted to just once let
him speak and give him the benefit of the doubt," says Strang.
"Otherwise I would have disrupted the whole way through. Now I've heard
it, and after having read all of his literature I can comfortably say
that he is full of crap.
"You can't force children to be one way or another. That's wrong. It's
not ethical, it's not right. He's a dangerous man. His clinic is
dangerous, and it is wrong that CAMH has been funding this ridiculous,
let's face it, ex-gay camp all these years."
Founded in the 1970s, CAMH's Child And Adolescents Gender Identity
Clinic provides, according to its mandate, support for "those who wish
to manage their crossgender feelings and the expression of those
feelings while remaining in their original gender role as well as those
questioning their level of adaptation to the crossdressing or
The clinic has been criticized for catering to parents who are troubled
by their child's GID symptoms and fear their child might be queer
because of their crossgender impulses, as opposed to caring and
providing the support for children to feel comfortable with their gender
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