On 9 March 2020, Bill C-8 (An Act to amend the Criminal Code (conversion therapy)) underwent its first reading in Parliament. Bill C-8 is meant to amend the Code criminel of Canada to criminalize conversion therapy, and in so doing has proposed narrow definitions of what constitutes conversion therapy – limiting it to act of active “conversion” and excluding acts such as discouraging or delaying the adoption of a gender not assigned at birth. For example, attempts by medical practitioners to delay or restrict a person’s transition would not be covered. Consequently, JusticeTrans has chosen to sign an open letter to Minister of Justice, David Lametti, and Minister of Diversity, Inclusion, and Youth, Bardish Chagger, requesting that the Act be amended to be more inclusive of all forms of conversion therapies and other acts that aim to deny the gender identity of a trans person.
At the same time, we recognize that marginalized communities are disproportionately affected by the criminal justice system and that their access to justice is often limited. This is especially true for those trans people who are black, indigenous, people of colour, transfeminine, and/or sex workers. Furthermore, we recognize that the criminal law is a significantly limited tool for instituting the social change necessary to advance the acceptance of trans identities. While we have signed this open letter, JusticeTrans also stands with black-led calls to defund the police and abolish the criminal punishment system. More work is needed in all aspects of society to build a better future for trans people. The proposed amendment, if modified to broaden the definition of conversion therapy, is only one step toward improving and safeguarding trans lives.