At a private Toronto gathering to honour psychologist Ken Zucker last December, days after he was dismissed from his job at Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, colleagues stood to give warm tributes. Some of them had come with prepared speeches, expressing shock over the closing of the Gender Identity Clinic, which Dr. Zucker had run for more than 30 years.
The decision was made under a cloud; Dr. Zucker was called in, given the news by an HR staffer and escorted out the door. Officials at CAMH, one of Canada’s leading mental-health hospitals, apologized publicly that the clinic’s therapy was not “in step with the latest thinking” and released an external review that was critical of the way the clinic treated children and youth struggling with issues relating to their gender identity. By closing the clinic, CAMH also walked away from a $1-million grant that had been awarded to Dr. Zucker and his team to study the effect of hormone blockers on teenagers. Those grants, in a country stingy with research dollars, are not easy to get.
In the transgender community, Dr. Zucker’s dismissal was celebrated – he had long been controversial for research suggesting children should be steered away from becoming transgender adults.Apparently, most kids suffering from gender dysphoria outgrow it--and Dr. Zucker recognized that playing into this was usually a mistake.