Did #BellLetsTalk money support transphobia?

Social media users helped raised over $6 million for Bell Canada's mental health campaign. But some worry funds went to a controversial gender identity clinic.

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  1. Last Wednesday, people around the world pitched in for mental health, one tweet at a time. But when they found out where the money was going, not everyone was happy.
  2. In the annual Bell Let's Talk campaign for mental health awareness, the Canadian telecommunications giant, Bell Canada, pledged to donate 5 cents for every tweet with the hashtag #BellLetsTalk. Facebook shares also counted, along with calls and texts by Bell customers.
  3. Some dismissed this as a cynical publicity stunt, but many took up Bell's invitation to talk about mental health and opened up about their own struggles.
  4. Others offered support.
  5. Even celebrities chimed in.
  6. The hashtag took off in Canada and beyond, surging to the top of the trending list worldwide that day. But all proceeds were earmarked for Canadian initiatives, something that might not have been clear to everyone.
  7. Many realized that this was a Canadian initiative, but supported it anyway.
  8. But what really disturbed some people was that Bell Let's Talk has directed funds to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). When Twitter users found out, many sounded the alarm, urging people to stop tweeting the hashtag.
  9. Dr. Kenneth Zucker, the head of CAMH's Gender Identity Service, tries to make gender-variant children "more content in their biological gender,” in order to prevent them from growing up transgender.
  10. Zucker's method includes steering children away from toys associated with the opposite sex and towards same-sex friendships. It's what critics have called the "drop the Barbie" approach and likened to conversion therapy for gay people.
  11. Zucker has countered that he's trying to improve the lives of these children, and suggests his work opposes homophobia. Some of these kids could actually be gay, he told MacLean's, but because of internalized homophobia, they believe that becoming the opposite gender will make it easier to live with same-sex attraction.
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