Alberta says it consulted widely in drafting controversial transgender rights policy

Click to play video: 'AB students protest proposed gender identity policies'
AB students protest proposed gender identity policies
Students across Alberta walked out of schools to protest Premier Danielle Smith's proposed new 'Parental Rights' policies, which critics say will harm transgender youth. Heather Yourex-West looks at how the polarizing plan is becoming a lightning rod for criticism against Smith – Feb 8, 2024

Alberta’s premier says she’s had many conversations with members of the trans community before and since drafting a suite of policy proposals dealing with transgender rights.

“It’s not a single voice and it’s not a single perspective.”  Danielle Smith said during a Feb. 5 press conference in Ottawa.  But it was one individual’s experience in particular, Smith says, that prompted the province to take action.

“Any time there has been a change in approach it’s often spurred by a particular case,” Smith said.  “In our province, we have a transgender woman named Lois Cardinal.”

Cardinal says she experienced regret after receiving gender affirming surgery in 2009 at the age of 21. She says she approached the United Conservative government to advocate for change and spoke with the premier in a one-on-one meeting for more than an hour.

“I was asking for better aftercare and prevention,” Cardinal said.  “I shared my concern that it should be an adult decision.”

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Advocates within the LGBTQ2 community question the government’s decision to consult Cardinal, pointing to a number of posts from her social media account comparing transgenderism to a mental disorder.

“I have a mental disorder called gender identity disorder. It fell under the Mental Health Act before it was removed and hijacked by this trans movement,” Cardinal wrote in a post on her X platform, formerly Twitter, account @duccess_elle. “I’m not like these people.”

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Kris Wells, the Canada Research Chair for the Public Understanding of Sexual and Gender Minority Youth, says the government failed to engage in any meaningful consultation with recognized experts or professional organizations.

“Premier Smith has continually stated how her policies were created based on the experiences of a few individuals she consulted with over the past year,” said Wells. “None of these individuals are part of recognized 2SLGBTQ+ community organizations and have no scientific, professional, or expertise in trans health care or 2SLGBTQ+ youth research.

“It is clear these policies have been developed based on ideology rather than any scientific evidence.”

Click to play video: 'Boissonault urges Albertans to call ‘silent Conservative MPs’ to stop controversial transgender policy proposals'
Boissonault urges Albertans to call ‘silent Conservative MPs’ to stop controversial transgender policy proposals

The Alberta government intends to put forward legislation this fall to prevent young people under the age of 16 from accessing puberty-blocking therapy and ban anyone under the age of 18 from receiving gender-affirming surgery, top or bottom.

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“The intervention with puberty suppression is accepted and recommended by international groups like the World Professional Association for Transgender Health but also the Canadian Pediatric Society and the American Academy of Pediatrics,”  said Dr. Kate Greenaway, medical director of the Foria Clinic, a gender-affirming clinic with locations in Ontario and Alberta. “This is a well-accepted, evidence-based intervention that would be prohibited by this bill.”

It is currently not possible for people under the age of 18 to access bottom gender-affirming surgery. Top surgery is permitted but how many minors receive the top surgery each year for gender-affirming purposes is not known.

A transgender man in Edmonton underwent top surgery at the age of 15. Global News has agreed to protect the man’s identity over concerns for his personal safety and will refer to him in this article as Dave.

Dave paid for the procedure, which he believes saved his life, out of pocket and had the support of his parents.

“I probably wouldn’t be sitting here to be completely honest,”  he said. “The mental health aspect of it just isn’t talked about enough.

“If these policies were enacted seven years ago and I wouldn’t have been able to do the things that I did, I probably would have committed suicide.”

“Suicide is the major risk actually when we’re taking about gender-affirming care of all types,” said Dr. Greenaway.  “A lot of studies support this, when you intervene and start hormones or offer other procedures that crisis point for people drops way down.”

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