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EXCLUSIVE: Lead counsel for BC Nurses College in trial of Amy Hamm claims telling 'trans kids' they are their natal sex is illegal 'conversion therapy'

“Grossman expresses her goal of therapy as to have [gender-confused youth] become more comfortable with the bodies they were born with,” said Findlay. “In Canada, that might be called conversion therapy, and that’s illegal.”

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Mia Ashton Montreal QC
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On day 10 of the disciplinary hearing of Amy Hamm, the Canadian nurse under investigation for allegedly transphobic off-duty activity, the lead counsel for the British Columbia College of Nurses and Midwives (BCCNM) spent a large amount of time trying to discredit one of Hamm’s witnesses.

barbara findlay KC, counsel for the BCCNM, who requests that her name be written in lowercase letters to signify something about oppression, put forward that Dr. Miriam Grossman does not meet the criteria to qualify as an expert witness in these proceedings, calling her “spectacularly unqualified,” and stopped just short of accusing her of practicing conversion therapy.

Grossman is a child and adolescent psychiatrist who is vocally opposed to the medicalization of young people who believe themselves to be transgender. Grossman’s practice now focuses almost entirely on providing exploratory psychotherapy for what she calls “gender-confused youth.” Findlay took exception to Grossman’s refusal to call these children transgender, and also to Grossman’s therapeutic approach that seeks to help the distressed young people accept their bodies without the need for invasive medical intervention.

“Grossman expresses her goal of therapy as to have [gender-confused youth] become more comfortable with the bodies they were born with,” said Findlay. “In Canada, that might be called conversion therapy, and that’s illegal.”

Should the BCCNM succeed in their attempt to discredit Grossman, her opinion will be disregarded and not entered as evidence in the hearing. One of the allegations against Hamm is that she is transphobic for publicly opposing the medical transition of minors, and Grossman was called as a witness to testify about the harm of “gender-affirming care,” or in other words child sex changes, to demonstrate that opposition to this model of care is a reasonable stance that does not come from a place of bigotry.

However, it is the position of the BCCNM that the science is settled. Findlay, invoking the authority of the World Professional Association of Transgender Health (WPATH), the leading trans organization that recently added eunuch as a valid gender identity for children, stated that gender-affirming care in Canada is well-established, making Hamm’s opposition to it  “unprofessional.”

“Dr. Grossman may be entitled to persuade what she calls gender-confused youth across the border, but she is not entitled to here,” said Findlay. “ British Columbia is a regime that protects the human and civil rights of transgender people, which follows WPATH and its medical practices, and therefore follows the gender-affirming approach which Dr. Grossman reviles.”

“Though the United States is notoriously divided on issues of care for trans people…Canada is not. There is not a debate here. The debate is settled,” said Findlay.

But the debate is far from settled. Just last month, Sweden officially broke ranks with WPATH, rejecting the affirmative model of care and reverting back to psychotherapeutic support for children who believe themselves to be transgender, precisely the type of care Grossman provides. One Swedish expert said that WPATH’s inclusion of eunuch as a gender identity even children can possess was evidence that it is an “obviously activist organization.”

After a systematic review of all the evidence for child sex changes, Sweden’s National Board of Health and Welfare (NBHW) concluded that risks of puberty suppression and cross-sex hormones outweigh any possible benefits and that such treatment should only be offered in exceptional cases. A similar conclusion was reached in Finland following an independent review, and England is expected to follow suit in the coming months.

Furthermore, the original Dutch studies that led to the “gender-affirming care” protocol being adopted by pediatric gender clinics around the world have recently been put under intense scrutiny and found to be not only deeply flawed, but also funded by a maker of puberty blockers.

A peer-reviewed article recently stated that the Dutch studies “escaped the lab” through a process called “runaway diffusion.” This is where the medical community mistakes a small experiment as proven practice and a harmful treatment enters the general medical setting. This, the author said, is what happened with pediatric gender medicine.

Karen Bastow, counsel for Hamm, responded to Findlay’s claim that there is no debate to be had in Canada by stating that transgender people being protected in law against discrimination does not mean that there can be no discussion of the legal and medical effects of those protections.

Bastow argued that laws crafted with the best of intentions can have adverse and unintended consequences, and suggested that one such consequence is that children are “being maimed.” 

“Women are having their breasts removed, when they are perhaps not able to consent to that,” said Bastow. “It is acceptable to debate these matters.”

“Laws can be not perfect. They can be imperfect and have unintended effects,” Bastow continued. “The unintended effect that is of concern to Ms. Hamm is the mutilation of girls under the age of 18 who think they are boys.”

Bastow then went on to stress the importance of allowing medical professionals to debate in good faith in the public sphere. She used the example of shock therapy, which was once a widely accepted medical practice, until psychiatrists spoke up about the harm of it and the barbaric practice came to an end. 

“The question here is whether there is an argument that can be made that expressing views contrary to the prevailing orthodoxy is an important and acceptable part of being a medical professional,” said Bastow. “We may come to a time in the future where we decide that providing surgeries for people under 18 is not appropriate.”

The disciplinary panel will assess the arguments presented by both counsels in order to reach a decision on Dr. Grossman’s eligibility as an expert witness.

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