A survey of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, intersex, and two-spirited (LGBTQI2+) people in Quebec, Canada, found that about a quarter have attempted to change their sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression of gender. Martin Blais of the University of Quebec in Montreal and his colleagues present these results in the open access journal PLOS ONE April 6, 2022.
Same-sex attraction, creative gender expression, and transsexuality are not mental illnesses, but many LGBTQI2+ people nonetheless receive formal guidance, counseling, or services aimed at changing their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender or their gender expression. Formal conversion services are known to cause damage. Understanding the prevalence of conversion attempts could help protect LGBTQI2+ people, but in Canada, most research has focused on efforts to change the sexual orientation of sexual minority men.
To broaden understanding of conversion efforts in Canada, Blais and her colleagues analyzed survey responses from 3,261 LGBTQI2+ adults in Quebec. The survey included questions about participants’ attempts at conversion, as well as their relationship to those involved; for example, parents or clergy.
About a quarter of participants said they had tried to change their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. Less than 5% said they had participated in formal conversion services. Among participants who said they had participated in conversion services that specifically focused on sexual orientation, only 55% said that the goals of the service were made clear to them; such clarity was only provided to 30% of participants who had experienced services focused on gender identity or expression.
The results also revealed a key role for family members of LGBTQI2+ adults in conversion attempts and services. Additionally, the likelihood of having experienced conversion efforts was higher for Indigenous, intersex, transgender, non-binary, and asexual people, people of color, and people with a sexual orientation that is not monosexual (for example, bisexual or pansexual).
In light of these results, the researchers call for support for families to be counseled on the acceptance of sexual and gender diversity, as well as improved training and professional practices for health professionals and religious therapists. .
The authors add: “This is the largest study on conversion practices in Quebec, and among the largest in the world. It offers a rich overview of the various forms taken by conversion practices targeting gender identity and expression and/or sexual orientation today and the risk factors associated with experiencing conversion practices, essential information for the development of policies and initiatives aimed at eliminating these degrading and harmful practices. .”
In your coverage, please use this URL to provide access to the article available for free in PLOS ONE: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0265580
Quote: Blais M, Cannas Aghedu F, Ashley F, Samoilenko M, Chamberland L, Côté I (2022) Sexual orientation and exposure to gender identity and expression conversion and their correlates among LGBTQI2+ people in Quebec, Canada . PLoS ONE 17(4): e0265580. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0265580
Author countries: Canada
Funding: This research is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
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Sexual orientation and exposure to gender identity and expression conversion and their correlates among LGBTQI2+ people in Quebec, Canada
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Conflict of Interest Statement
The authors have declared that there is no conflict of interest.
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