Survivors Speak

Join us in rich and informative conversations with survivors of conversion therapy* who courageously share their voices and stories with host Shila LeBlanc. Learn more about the harms and impacts of conversion therapy* with many stories originating right here in Nova Scotia. 

Ian’s Story 
Learn about Ian’s experience of conversion therapy* both within himself and within a religious setting. Ian was subjected to conversion therapy* for nearly 50 years, until he found the courage to start anew and begin his healing journey. Ian shares with us the challenges of escaping communities entrenched in harmful views, and is now looking to therapeutically support others who have suffered from the harms of conversion therapy*.

N’s Story 
This episode dives into the complexities of healing from the harm of conversion therapy*. Learn about N’s personal experiences and also their professional understanding of the challenges of healing trauma arising from conversion therapy*. N is a rabbi with Reform Judaism and offers specialized therapy to those seeking affirming faith spaces. N sheds light on what inclusive faith spaces mean to them.

Julie’s Story 
This episode explores conversion therapy* within families, institutions, and communities. Julie experienced both subtle and explicit pressure to change who they were throughout their upbringing. It was in fact this project that supported Julie in realizing that they too had been subjected to this kind of harm. Julie shares with us their wish for people to embody their truths and explores the cultural messaging that excludes queer folks. 

Veronica’s Story 
This episode explores the personal impacts of conversion therapy* in a familial and religious setting, as well as what it means to do advocacy work as a survivor. Veronica was and continues to be a public voice calling for meaningful action to prevent, address, and respond to the harms of conversion therapy*, especially from a survivor lens. She shares with us what the ban means to her and what challenges remain in preventing and addressing this kind of harm. 

Robert’s Story 
This episode explores the harms of conversion therapy* in religious spaces. Robert was subjected to conversion therapy* for most of his upbringing in the context of a small, religious town in Nova Scotia. After finding the courage to move away from his family and community so he could live freely as a gay man, he searched for faith spaces that allowed him to be himself. Robert found this space, and is a strong believer in the power of healing within gender-inclusive faith spaces.

Jordan’s Story 
This episode examines the work of survivor advocacy efforts to bring healing to those impacted by the harms of converstion therapy*. Jordan, who himself is a survivor of conversion therapy*, works at the Community-Based Research Center as the SOGIECE/CP* Prevention & Survivor Support Coordinator for the Community-Based Research Centre. He shares with us the challenges and potentials ahead when it comes to addressing this harm, and supporting those impacted to move forward in good ways.

*A note on language: Throughout this guide, we have chosen to place an asterisk next to the phrase “conversion therapy.” We have done so because the term conversion therapy* is misleading, in the sense that it is not actually a therapeutic practice in any traditional or reasonable understanding of what therapy involves and what its purpose is. 

Conversion therapy* is also not recognized as a credible practice by any reputable or accredited medical or therapeutic organization or governing body. 

Therapy or counseling are, in a general sense, practices focused on the healing and wellbeing of the individuals seeking out these services. In contrast, conversion therapy* is an inherently harmful practice that seeks to suppress or alter an essential aspect of an individual’s identity and sense of self. 

Some organizations, such as Canada’s Community-Based Research Centre (CBRC), prefer to use the phrase "conversion practices" to avoid using the term therapy. One of CBRC's core projects focuses on “sexual orientation and gender identity and expression change efforts” (abbreviated as “SOGIECE”), which include any practice or effort, explicit or implicit, that pressures a person to change their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression to heterosexual and/or cisgender. SOGIECE includes conversion practices but also encompasses other ways and situations in which 2SLGBTQIA+ people experience harmful pressure to suppress their authentic selves. 

We have chosen to retain the term conversion therapy* for the sake of clarity and simplicity, given that this is how the practice is most commonly known. We have also kept the term ‘conversion therapy’* because this is the term used in the Criminal Code itself. 

At the same time, however, we wanted to emphasize that conversion therapy* is far removed and fundamentally at odds with the ethical guidelines and client-centered, healing-focused practices of therapy or counseling.