In late 2015, the Child and Adolescent Gender Identity Clinic at Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health was closed following a review of its practices in the treatment of gender-nonconforming children. The clinic, founded by Dr. Susan Bradley in the 1970s and later directed by her frequent collaborator Dr. Kenneth Zucker, was notable for its use of an approach focused on discouraging children from identifying with or expressing a gender other than the one they were assigned, with the intention of ensuring that they would grow up to be cisgender rather than transgender. This clinical goal does not reflect the contemporary professional consensus that gender-affirming therapy and watchful waiting are the healthiest approaches when treating children who are potentially transgender or gender-questioning.
The allegation that the closure of the Gender Identity Clinic was purely “politically motivated” has received extensive coverage in an investigation by New York magazine, a recent BBC Two documentary on transgender children, and several articles in the Globe and Mail. However, considerably less attention has been given to Zucker’s and Bradley’s lengthy history of inflammatory and self-promoting rhetoric which irresponsibly plays to popular prejudices. While these researchers have claimed to support transgender adolescents and adults in transitioning, they continue to issue statements which misinform the public about the nature of transgender identity and are scientifically unfounded – in some cases going so far as to offer their tacit approval to religiously-motivated transphobia and long-running malicious rumors about queer and trans “recruitment” of children. Their misleading claims in the media do a disservice to transgender youth and adults, as well as the wider public. Continue reading