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Unpacking Premier Danielle Smith’s transgender policies

Posted on February 26, 2024 by admin

In unveiling her recent policy changes regarding transgender youth, Premier Danielle Smith presents herself as a shepherd of societal well-being draped in the cloak of legislative reform, yet beneath this veneer of concern lies a stark reality: her policies constitute a wolf in sheep’s clothing, masquerading as protective measures while posing grave threats to the dignity, rights, and very lives of transgender individuals. Smith’s approach to gender-affirming care in Alberta can be likened to a deceptive guise, obscuring the true impact of these measures on the transgender community. 

Gender-affirming care, endorsed by major medical organizations like the American Medical Association and the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, is crucial for transgender individuals’ mental and physical health. Smith’s policies, which restrict transgender youth’s access to hormone therapy, hormone blockers, and denial of essential care, pose significant harm to those youth—delaying until the age of 16 will cause irreversible harm, compounding distress and necessitating costly surgeries later. Transgender youth understand their needs best; arbitrary age limits undermine their autonomy and hinder informed healthcare decisions.

These policies on gender identity and gender-affirming care raise concerns about transgender youth’s human rights. Mandating parental permission and limiting name/pronoun changes risk undermining autonomy and worsening dysphoria, depression, and anxiety. While Bill C-16 prohibits discrimination, Smith’s proposals contradict inclusivity, raising concerns about rights violations. Requiring parental notification for name/pronoun changes in schools further infringes on autonomy, exposing youth to familial rejection. Limiting access to care based on parental consent disregards the unique healthcare needs of these youth while worsening dysphoria. Safeguarding youth rights, including healthcare access, is vital, necessitating careful scrutiny of policies that may violate their rights.

Recent policy changes neglect the heightened vulnerability of transgender youth, especially in challenging environments. Mandating parental consent for gender-affirming care endangers those disclosing their identity to unsupportive parents, risking rejection, abuse, or homelessness. This exacerbates existing disparities and discrimination. Nearly one out of every three homeless youth in Canada identifies as 2SLGBTQIA+, highlighting the urgent need for policies prioritizing their safety and well-being.

Dispelling the misconception, transgender women on hormone replacement therapy (HRT) don’t have inherent advantages in sports over cisgender counterparts. Research shows that post-HRT, they align more closely with cisgender women in physiological changes. Premier Danielle Smith’s sports rhetoric intensifies stigmatization, consistently labelling cisgender women as “young women and girls” and transgender women as “biologically stronger transgender female athletes,” which only amplifies the segregation of transgender individuals. This divisive language undermines dignity, perpetuates harmful stereotypes, and hinders full inclusion in sports. Smith’s claim of a “divisive and sometimes dangerous situation” lacks understanding and empathy, reinforcing discriminatory policies. Policymakers must prioritize the rights and dignity of all individuals, fostering inclusive environments, including sports.

Premier Smith’s attempt at compromise fails to address the urgent needs and rights of transgender youth. Policymakers must adopt an evidence-based approach, ensuring transgender youth receive the necessary care and support to lead healthy lives free from discrimination. As educators, healthcare professionals, and youth advocates, we must prioritize the safety, security, and support of transgender youth. This means listening to their voices, respecting their identities, and ensuring access to the resources and care they need to thrive. Anything less is a failure to fulfill our moral and ethical obligations to protect and nurture all young people, regardless of gender identity.

Jayce Wilson and Kathleen McKenzie, Taber 

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