Skip to main content

Manitoba Psychological Society Position Statement on Sexuality and Gender

The Manitoba Psychological Society (MPS) is committed to the protection and advancement of the rights, health, and well-being of individuals and groups with diverse and expansive sexual orientations, gender identities, and expressions, including (but not limited to) two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, intersex, and asexual people, communities, and cultures (2SLGBTQIA+). We acknowledge the field of psychology has been complicit in causing harm to 2SLGBTQIA+ communities, including adherence to diagnostic systems that have historically pathologized diversity in gender identity and sexuality. MPS recognizes that diversity in sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression is normal and healthy. We actively refute any claims that 2SLGBTQIA+ identities, expressions, or characteristics are abnormal, unhealthy, or pathological.

2SLGBTQIA+ people are disproportionately impacted by violence and discrimination globally, including criminalization and capital punishment in some countries. 2SLGBTQIA+ individuals in Canada are at increased risk for harassment and discrimination (both individual and systemic) that negatively impact their access to and quality of healthcare, housing, employment, education, and other public services. As a result, they experience disproportionate rates and increased risks of poorer health and mental health outcomes. Consistent with policies adopted by the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA) and the foundational principle of the respect for the dignity of persons and peoples inherent in the Code of Ethics, MPS stands with 2SLGBTQIA+ communities and advocates for freedom of self-definition and self-expression regardless of sex chromosomes, physical characteristics, assigned birth sex, or initial gender identity and role. We strongly oppose stereotyping, prejudice, discrimination (both systemic and individual), and victimization based on sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as the implicit and explicit biases that contribute to them. 

Psychologists have a responsibility to create 2SLGBTQIA+ inclusive and affirming environments. Sexuality and gender-expansive representation and collaboration with 2SLGBTQIA+ communities are essential to ensure their needs are adequately and accurately promoted and supported in clinical practice, research, and policy. Culturally aware and competent practices ensure that psychology does not perpetuate harm and should include cultural humility, safety, and responsiveness. MPS believes that all psychologists have a duty to familiarize themselves with current guidelines on best practices with 2SLGBTQIA+ individuals and seek out training/education on affirmative care to inform clinical and research practice.  At the same time, it is imperative for psychologists to recognize the considerable diversity within the 2SLGBTQIA+ community and that each person presents with unique needs. For example, 2SLGBTQIA+ individuals seeking clinical care may or may not wish to focus on issues of sexual orientation or gender identity. Psychologists must also fully consider the intersectionality of 2SLGBTQIA+ identities with other identities (e.g., ethnicity, race, socioeconomic status, disability) to provide truly client-, community-, and culturally-centred care.  

Consistent with federal legislation in Canada and best practices, MPS condemns the use of conversion/reparative therapies for sexual orientation and gender identity. Best practices comprise affirmative approaches that promote acceptance and support. This includes empirically supported, life-saving gender-affirming healthcare tailored to the individual’s developmental level, as outlined in the World Professional Association of Transgender Health’s (WPATH) Standards of Care. Psychologists supporting gender-diverse individuals with social, medical, or legal transition should be knowledgeable of the most recent WPATH standards and Canadian Professional Association for Transgender Health (CPATH) recommendations. 

MPS recognizes the rising rates of anti-2SLGBTQIA+ legislation and hate crimes worldwide. Members of the queer community may experience greater minority stress and declines in mental well-being when exposed to threats against 2SLGBTQIA+ rights and anti-2SLGBTQIA+ rhetoric, discrimination, and hate crimes both locally and globally. We strongly condemn any proposed or enacted policies or legislation that aim to limit the rights of 2SLGBTQIA+ people and ardently support increased access to affirmative healthcare and mental health services. Rather, MPS calls on legislators and policy makers to commit their support to the 2SLGBTQIA+ community by ensuring the protection of gender diversity and rights.