Have you heard of conversion therapy? What about the blood ban? Why do many 2LGBTQ+ people in New Brunswick want to Save Clinic 554? It’s important to remember that Two Spirit people have existed on Turtle Island since before colonization, and members of the 2LGBTQ+ community have been around since the territory we currently call Canada existed.
However, Canada has a longer history of oppressing 2LGBTQ+ people than it does of supporting them. For example, the Canadian Human Rights Act was only amended to specifically include sexual orientation as a prohibited grounds of discrimination in 1996. Same sex marriage was only legalized in 2005. And although LGBTQ+ Canadians have the right to freedom of expression, movement, to safe employment and housing, many LGBTQ+ people and communities continue to face systemic discrimination in Canada today. Have you heard of the blood ban? If you are a man who has sex with men, you are prohibited from donating blood. In June 2019, to address criticism about the blood ban, a 3-month deferral period for gay and bisexual men donating blood was implemented throughout Canada. This means that members of the 2LGBTQ+ community who identify as men are only eligible to give blood if it has been more than three months since their last sexual contact with another person who identifies as a man.
The blood ban is an example of a health-based discrimination levied against people based on their sexual identities that continues today. Have you heard of conversion therapy? Conversion therapy is the practice of forcing a 2LGBTQ+ person to undergo treatment that disaffirms their gender identities and/or sexuality. Conversion therapy can include a number of coercive interventions that aim to force a person to adhere to heterosexual norms, including medication, prayer, and talk and behavioral therapies and counselling. This practice disaffirms 2LGBTQ+ peoples’ identities, and has enormous social and mental health consequences.
Members of the LGBTQ+ community also do not have universal access to gender-affirming health care and services. Clinic 554, one of the few stigma-free and barrier-free access to sexual and reproductive health services in New Brunswick, is being forced to shut down as a result of a cut in provincial funding. The clinic’s impending closure impacts people from across the province because Clinic 554 provides gender-affirming and stigma-free care to the LGBTQ+ community from all over the region. Much needs to change in order for 2LGBTQ+ people to receive barrier free, gender affirming and stigma free healthcare in New Brunswick.
What can we do, as classmates and community members to confront systemic discrimination levied against 2LGBTQ+ people in New Brunswick? What other kinds of systemic discrimination have you heard about? What can we do to address violence and discrimination in our health, education, and justice systems?
This cellphilm was created for use in the Grade 12 World Issues classroom in New Brunswick, and seeks to address the specific curriculum outcomes:
o Humanity: Students will examine the unity and diversity of the human experience
o 1.2 investigate different conceptions of quality of life including conceptions beyond those measured by economic success;
o 1.2 demonstrate cross cultural understanding of identity, diversity and unity
This cellphilm was produced as a part of the "Queering Social Studies" project at the University of New Brunswick. The project is supported by a SSHRC Insight Development Grant & NBIF Emerging Projects Grant.