Conversion Therapy and SOGIECE

Sexual orientation and gender identity and expression change efforts (SOGIECE) are deeply harmful, scientifically discredited practices that target vulnerable 2SLGBTQ Canadians. To protect people from this cruel treatment, all levels of government should work to prohibit people and organizations from conducting SOGIECE – as well as support the development of positive, affirming programs and services.

Part of the challenge of ending SOGIECE is defining what the term means. Known more commonly as “Conversion Therapy,” SOGIECE is a broad set of practices that encompasses any form of efforts, explicit or implicit, which pressure someone to deny, suppress, or change their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression to heterosexual and/or cisgender. This involves organized, sustained efforts, which may also be experienced as life-long pressures.

SOGIECE falls into four distinct categories: psychotherapy, medical, faith-based, and punitive. However, in some cases, these conversion efforts are compounded. For example, a person who feels distress about their gender identity or sexual orientation may go to a counsellor, healthcare provider, church leader, or other person in authority for advice. This counsellor might give advice that would delay or impede the individual from coming to terms with the immutable or desirable nature of their sexuality, gender identity or gender expression. A parent could take a minor to such “counselling” against the minor’s will, doing irreparable harm.

Even when informal and infrequent, SOGIECE can do significant damage to 2SLGBTQ people. To help prevent these practices in Canada, CBRC is working with researchers, survivors, community leaders, and policymakers to:

  • listen to those who have been harmed, including experiences of BIPOC and immigrant 2SLGBTQ+ survivors, assess support needs, and work with Canadian partners to deliver the supports needed to recover
  • increase knowledge and understanding of SOGIECE, and the federal ban on conversion “therapy" among queer and trans communities, as well as service providers and policymakers
  • develop interventions that limit or restrict SOGIECE and support the health and social needs of survivors, including legislative bans and programs or services that are affirmative of queer and trans communities

Disponible en français.

The SOGIECE/Conversion ‘Therapy’ Survivor Support Project was a 2021-2022 community-based research project led by SOGIECE/CT survivors for survivors. Through a survey, focus groups, and interviews, we listened to 270 survivors who have been harmed to assess support needed by survivors and work with Canadian partners to deliver the supports needed to recover.

For more information, contact project coordinator Jordan Sullivan at [email protected].

Where can you turn to if you’re a survivor? What can you do if you’re a friend of a survivor? Whomever you are, there are supports out there for you. Unfortunately, they can be scarce and tough to find. We have compiled below some tips and resources to support SOGIECE/CT survivors, whether you’re a survivor yourself, or a friend or family member.

For Survivors:

  • CT Survivors Connect is a Canadian, survivor led, online support group and service development program for survivors of conversion “therapy” (traumas)—a space for survivors to connect with other survivors. Follow them on Twitter or Facebook, or see their website at
  • Conversion Therapy Dropout Network is another survivor support network. On the last Sunday of every month, they hold a Survivor Sunday round-table event where survivors come together and share stories.
  • CT Survivors is a group of survivors who have come together to connect and heal. You can join their newsletter and check out their events that include various trauma processing discussions for survivors. This network is based in the U.S. and welcomes Canadian SOGIECE/conversion therapy survivors.

For Parents:

For Survivors, Families, and Practitioners:

CBRC Reports:

Additional Research:

  • Reflections on Bill C-4: An Advocate and Survivor’s Take on the New Federal Conversion Therapy Ban, by Michael Kwag (2022)
  • Ridding Canadian Medicine of Conversion Therapy, Travis Salway and Florence Ashley, (Canadian Medical Association Journal, 2022).
  • Ending Efforts to Change Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity & Gender Expression: This report presents a comprehensive look at sexual orientation and gender identity and expression change efforts (SOGIECE), their effects, the current state in Canada, and the limitations of bans and legal challenges. (CBRC, 2020)
  • Ending conversion therapy in Canada: Survivors, community leaders, researchers, and allies address the current and future states of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression change efforts: The 2019 Vancouver SOGIECE Dialogue was held on November 2, 2019. The objective was to convene survivors, community leaders, researchers, and policy advocates in order to share professional and lived experiences of SOGIECE, identify key health and social service needs of SOGIECE survivors, exchange ideas about pan-North American interventions, and determine how research could be undertaken to address gaps in knowledge.
  • No Conversion Canada: A national, non-profit, grassroots coalition dedicated to ending conversion therapy in Canada. Includes A Guide for Legislative Action. The development of this guide has been supported by leading experts, academics, persons with lived experience, and faith and community leaders to assist legislators and policymakers in better understanding their roles and responsibilities in taking action to protect LGBTQ21 people from “conversion therapy” within their local communities. This revised guide builds upon an earlier publication and provides updates on new research, lived experiences of survivors, and recent legislative and policy developments, including the introduction of federal legislation to criminalize conversion therapy.
  • Video: Ending, Healing, and Learning - The Current and Future State of SOGICE plenary panel during Summit 2019. Travis Salway, a social epidemiologist, and a leading SOGICE researcher moderated this interactive panel featuring critical discussion from the perspectives of survivors, policy advocates, and service providers to mobilize research, practice, and policy actions with regard to sexual orientation and gender identity change efforts (SOGICE). The panel helped to increase awareness and understanding of conversion therapy, or SOGICE in Canada, and its consequences with regard to sexuality, identity, health, and social well-being, and what is required to help survivors heal.
  • Conversion Therapy in Canada: The Roles and Responsibilities of Municipalities (2019). Dr. Kristopher Wells, Canada Research Chair for the Public Understanding of Sexual and Gender Minority Youth, launched this report in partnership with conversion therapy survivors, and civil society organizations. The report was developed by leading experts, academics, persons with lived experience, and faith and community leaders to assist municipalities in better understanding their roles and responsibilities in taking action to protect 2SLGBTQ people from conversion therapy within their local communities. It features the latest research and evidence on the state of conversion therapy in Canada and calls for municipalities to take legislative action to end this abusive practice. Everyone is valid, everyone deserves the freedom to be who they are.
  • Brief: Protecting Canadian sexual and gender minorities from harmful sexual orientation and gender identity change efforts submitted to the Standing Committee on Health (HESA) for the study of 2SLGBTQ Health in Canada. This brief explains how sexual orientation and gender identity change efforts (SOGICE), are pseudo-scientific practices intended to change, repair, convert, or otherwise suppress unwanted feelings or expressions of sexual attraction to members of the same gender or unwanted feelings or expressions of incongruence between one’s biological sex assigned at birth and gender identity. It highlights how SOGICE are not only ineffective at changing sexual orientation and gender identity but are associated with numerous psychological harms, including poor self-esteem, self-hatred, depression, anxiety, problematic substance use, and suicide ideation and attempts.

Additional Supports in the United States

  • The Trevor Project advocates for change by endeavoring to protect LGBTQ young people from conversion therapy in the United States and countries around the world.

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Conversion Therapy and SOGIECE
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