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48 groups issue joint statement against Alberta’s new trans policy, rallies held

More than 40 groups across Alberta demanded the province to halt the proposed parental rights policy in a joint statement issued on Saturday, saying the policy will disproportionately harm the transgender community.

The statement, signed by 48 advocacy organizations and businesses across Alberta, called for an immediate halt to the policy. The groups also called on the province to consult with the transgender community and for the creation of new regulations based on established medical practices and evidence.

“The Premier’s suite of measures seeking to restrict healthcare for transgender children, disclose private information regarding their gender identity without their consent & segregate transgender women from participation in sports do not reflect the values of our community,” the statement read.

“Any proposal regarding the health and welfare of transgender children needs to include expert medical advice, and involve consultation with all concerned parties; teachers, social workers, families, legal professionals, and most importantly the transgender community.

“Instead, the UCP’s proposal interferes with Canadians’ protected charter rights and runs contrary to the evidence-based medical practices and research over the past 80 years. If implemented, this suite of measures risks placing trans youth who have unsupportive families in harmful situations, segregates trans women from participation in social activities, and limits access to resources for trans youth, even with parental consent.”

This comes after Alberta Premier Danielle Smith published a video on social media Wednesday saying the government will require parental notification and consent if a child 15 years or younger changes their name and pronouns at school.

In the video on X, formerly known as Twitter, Smith said parents of children aged 16 and 17 will not need to consent to the changes but will need to be notified.

Smith said it is the responsibility of parents, teachers and community leaders to “preserve” children’s rights to grow and develop into mature adults so they are “better prepared to make the most impactful decisions affecting their lives.”

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Smith said she looked to other jurisdictions while considering these rules. While she said Saturday that the UCP “consulted very broadly” on this issue, she has not said who or what groups or experts were consulted.

“We just think that’s the responsible way of approaching this issue so that kids are not precluded from all the future choices that come to them when they decide to make the decision that’s going to have potentially serious ramifications on their reproductive (health),” Smith told reporters on Thursday.

The joint statement comes as protests against the new policy were held in Edmonton and Calgary on Saturday, with hundreds in attendance at both rallies.

“These policies that have been released by the (United Conservative) cabinet are not in line with the beliefs of modern society and not Albertans in general,” said Victoria Bucholtz, a community organizer with Queer Citizens United.

Bucholtz said she is happy to see a people coming to the rally, and said this is proof that Albertans are willing to rally to protect LGBTQ2 rights.

Although the policy was “somewhat expected,” she told Global News the policy still shocked her.

“This is a test. This is a test of the progress, this is a test of the tolerance of our society. We haven’t stepped back, but we could,” Bucholtz said. “This is where we need to band together and examine our morals.”

Rowan Morris, primary organizer with Trans Rights YEG, said he felt helpless and scared when Smith announced the policy on social media. He called the policy “transphobic,” and decided to organize the rally in Edmonton on Saturday.

The rally is supporting all trans people in Alberta, he said.

“The community is feeling attacked because their medical rights are being threatened. Their rights to simply existing (and) existing happily … Especially for youth,” Morris told Global News. “Many youth, not only trans youth, use different names in schools. It’s not specifically a trans issue.”

In a response to the rallies, the premier’s office maintained the policies were made to “preserve the choices children and youth have before potentially making life-altering and often irreversible adult decisions.”

“To reaffirm our support for the transgender community, we are also providing additional supports to assist transgender adults to secure the health care they need like bringing medical professionals who specialize in transgender care to Alberta,” said Sam Blackett, press secretary to the Office of the Premier, in an emailed statement on Saturday afternoon.

“We’re also developing a private registry of medical professionals who specialize in this field to make it easier for transgender Albertans to access needed medical treatment and care. Additionally, we’re developing a counselling pilot project to help youth identifying as transgender and their families work through often difficult and complex issues and discussions.”

But Morris said the policies as a whole will exacerbate mental and physical health issues for many trans youth across the province.

A study published by Duke University in 2022 surveyed more than 58,000 trans and non-binary people, 2 million cisgender women and 2 million cisgender men and found trans people had significantly higher rates of mortality at nearly every age compared to their cisgender counterparts.

Morris said the disparity in mortality rates is because of policies similar to Alberta’s.

“It’s going to exacerbate violence against trans individuals,” he said. “All of these policy reveals are going to be a domino effect that will result in trans youth dying.”

Noah, who attended the rally in Edmonton, said he wants to see trans youth live happy and healthy lives. He accused the provincial government of distracting Albertans from “real issues” like the housing crisis and the health-care crisis.

“They’re a distraction of the real issues that we have going on. They’re trying to incite hatred in people, they’re trying to lie to everybody,” he told Global News. “It’s trying to pit people against each other … Love your kids for who they are, not who you think they should be.”

–With files from Emily Mertz, Global News.

&copy 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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