For the last several days, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith has been vilified by the Liberal government in Ottawa and much of Canada’s media for putting forward a thoughtful policy. Since that policy is about gender and sexuality, though, Smith is being accused of homophobia, transphobia, attacking vulnerable kids and even genocide.
Because she released a policy that stated that children under the age of 18 cannot get “top or bottom” surgery, meaning sex reassignment surgery. That’s a policy that is in line with what the Canadian Medical Association has as its policy, though some activists want that changed and the age lowered.
Smith also said that puberty blockers and hormone therapy for the purposes of gender reassignment could not be prescribed to children under the age of 16. In her statement, Smith said that there are many choices that children and young people don’t get to make for themselves.
“It is my view that list of adult choices includes deciding whether or not to alter one’s biological sex, making permanent and irreversible decisions regarding one’s biological sex,” Smith said.
Those two policies sound reasonable to the vast majority of Canadians. We restrict the actions and decisions of children in so many ways until they are old enough or mature enough to consider all the options. This should include life and body altering surgery.
Smith’s proposed policy changes include requiring parental notification and permission for changing the names or pronouns of any children 15 and under and at least notification of parents for those aged 16 and 17.
Policies on parents being informed of their child changing their names or pronouns are supported by 78% of Canadians and opposed by just 14% according to an Angus Reid poll released last summer when this issue was dominating headlines. Still the Trudeau government in Ottawa, and the majority of media in this country, are in the 14% and ready to call anyone who disagrees with them radical or fringe, probably with unacceptable opinions.
“Danielle Smith has now moved forward with the most anti-LGBT policies of anywhere in the country. Canadians need to know that the federal government and all Canadians will be there to protect youth,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.
Protect them how? By forcing Alberta to give 11-year-olds puberty blockers? By forcing Alberta to allow gender reassignment surgery for 13-year-olds?
Or is this just about the idea that parents should know if the school is going to change the name and gender of their child?
The idea that parents should be kept out of such a decision begins and ends with the idea that all parents are abusive, a danger to their children and that schools need to protect children from their own families. In some cases, that’s true and home is not safe for kids, but that is the exception rather than the rule.
On the other issues that Smith addressed such as making sure that women and girls have a chance to play in sports leagues of their own, rather than being forced to compete against biological males who may or may have not transitioned, again, she is on the side of the majority. Women have fought hard for their own spaces in society and what has happened the last several years in sport with women losing to much stronger transgender women, or biological males, is simply not fair.
What seems to be lost in Smith’s announcement is her promise to improve medical and counselling services for transgendered people in Alberta.
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She promised to attract top talent who specialize in trans surgery to practice in the province so that patients don’t need to go to Quebec. The premier also pledged to better coordinate care in this developing field.
“We will also be building a registry of medical professionals who specialize in this field to better support the lifelong health care needs of transgender Albertans including access to needed hormones and surgery aftercare,” Smith said.
None of this sounds like an attack as Trudeau and his ministers would have you believe.
We need to stop talking past each other on these issues and talk to each other.
Smith’s proposal is sound, caring, compassionate and reasonable. Labelling this an affront to anyone serves only to raise the rhetoric and anxiety.