Catie Jones said she burst into tears when she first saw Premier Danielle Smith’s policy announcement on Wednesday.
As the mother of a 10-year-old daughter who identifies as gender diverse, the Sherwood Park resident said recently announced policies related to transgender youth will directly affect her family.
“I find it quite hypocritical that you call this policy parental rights, when with this policy you are essentially taking away my right as a parent to receive gender-affirming health care for my child,” Jones said.
Jones said her daughter first came out as transgender when she was seven years old. While it came as a surprise, Jones said there were signs that her son was not like most other children, and that her identity probably lay somewhere “within the rainbow community.”
Three years later, Jones said she, her husband and daughter discussed with her doctor the option of eventually using puberty blockers, which would postpone her biological development.
“We have. . . I told him this was something he would have to take to feel like he was in the right body,” Jones said. “We explained to him how it would work: that the puberty blockers would only delay his puberty.
“At that time, when we were stopping puberty blockers, she had to tell us, ‘Yes, I want the hormone or estrogen, or no, I want to go through natural puberty.’ We have already started the process of seeing a doctor for that.”
The Alberta government’s new policies would restrict Jones’ daughter from undergoing such treatment until she is at least 16 years old.
Smith says policy ‘strikes the right balance’
Smith’s announcement, posted in a seven-minute video on social media, outlined a ban on gender reassignment surgery for youth under 17 and a ban on hormone therapy or the use of puberty blockers among youth. minors under 16 years of age.
While 16- and 17-year-olds would be allowed to begin hormone therapy, Smith said they would require parental consent, as well as approval from a psychologist and doctor to prove they are mature enough to undergo such treatments. .
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At a news conference Thursday, Smith said the new policies are a way to protect children from making irreversible decisions that would affect their biological development until they are “mature enough to make them.”
“Puberty is a confusing time,” he said. “We have to make sure we have that balance between making sure families are supported and also making sure the child can become who they are meant to be.
“I think we’ve struck the right balance here.”
LGBTQ+ advocates call measures “draconian” and say they violate constitutional rights
But while the prime minister said the new policies are intended to protect transgender youth, condemnation from LGBTQ+ advocates and allies has been swift since the measures were announced.
On Wednesday, Egale Canada and the Skipping Stone Foundation issued a joint statement vowing to take legal action against the province, alleging the government’s policies violate the constitutional rights of transgender people.
The two groups argued that the policies are “draconian” and said they would “lead to irreparable harm and suffering” among transgender youth.
“The Alberta Government is playing politics with some of the most vulnerable members of our society: trans and gender diverse youth, attacking them for cheap political points,” the statement read. “We will not tolerate it.”
Bennett Jensen, legal director at Egale Canada, said similar challenges have been launched against provincial governments in Saskatchewan and New Brunswick, whose governments announced similar policies related to gender identity last year.
He said many of the new policies could be “unconstitutional” and violate Sections 2, 7, 12 and 13 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which refer to the individual right to personal security; your freedom of thought, belief and expression; their freedom from cruel and unusual treatment; and their right to equality.
Puberty blockers give young people more time: advocate
When asked about potential legal challenges Thursday, Smith said he hopes the province won’t have to resort to the notwithstanding clause.
“We are bringing this forward with the best interests of the child in mind,” he said. “We believe that the best thing for the child is to have a family that supports him and accompanies him every step of the way. “We believe that the best interests of the child are served by ensuring that when they make decisions they are not irreversible until they are at an age where they are prepared to live with the consequences of it.”
But Jensen said that’s precisely the purpose of puberty blockers.
“They prevent irreversible changes from occurring to give that young person more time for him and his doctor, and probably his family, to work together to figure out what is best for that young person,” he said.
“All the arguments she said make sense; Of course, young people may need some time to figure out who they are and what is best for them. But that’s exactly why puberty blockers, for some young people, are determined to be the right thing to do to give them that time.”