On February 1, the Premier of Alberta announced a series of harmful policies attacking some of the most vulnerable members of our society—transgender youth and children. The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) condemns in the strongest possible terms these dangerous measures and stands with 2SLGBTQIA+ Canadians and their loved ones.
“I am appalled at the Premier’s and the Alberta government’s outright attack on 2SLGBTQIA+ Canadians, and transgender and gender-diverse children and youth in particular,” said Bert Blundon, President of NUPGE. “The government’s hollow rhetoric of love and support stands in stark contrast to the divisive policies announced last week. What these policies do is force young people to suppress their identities and put them at heightened risk.”
Instead of respecting the medical authority of physicians who are providing medically necessary healthcare for transgender and gender-diverse young people, the government has deemed itself the authority for when young people can learn about gender identity or begin their gender-affirming process.
This is particularly concerning given that Premier Smith’s statement was riddled with scientifically inaccurate pronouncements, repeatedly asserting that children can alter their biological sex. This claim that has no basis in science. Why should a government that can’t grasp the basics of the issue dictate what young people can learn about gender identity and do with their own bodies?
Alberta goes further than any province
Alberta’s announcement includes these flawed measures:
- Bans top and bottom gender-affirming surgeries for young people aged 17, (although young people already cannot access these surgeries at age 17).
- Bans hormonal treatment, puberty blockers and gender-affirming surgery for young people aged 15 years and younger. Young people aged 16 and 17 can start hormone therapy only with permission from their parents, a physician and a psychologist.
- Bans young people aged 15 years and younger from changing their pronouns without approval from their parents. Youth older than 15 can alter their pronouns, but their parents must be informed.
- Requires parental notification and opt in for each instance of classroom instruction on subjects involving gender identity, sexual orientation, or human sexuality.
- Requires all third-party resource materials or presentations related to gender identity, sexual orientation, or human sexuality used in schools to be pre-approved by the Ministry of Education.
- Forbids transgender women from competing in women’s sports leagues.
“The government has turned education on issues of human sexuality, gender identity, and sexual orientation into a procedural nightmare,” said Blundon. “Students will lose vital information that is key to their growth and development. This puts them at further risk. The fact is, learning about gender identity is healthy for transgender kids and all their peers.”
Blundon added that “these regressive policies clearly trample on the human rights protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and violate the terms of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child to which Canada is a signatory.”
NUPGE and its Components will continue to advocate for the well-being of 2SLGBTQIA+ people in Alberta and across the country and to speak out against hatred, bigotry, and misinformation everywhere.
Governments cannot be allowed to use right-wing dog whistles as a smoke screen to hide their failures of leadership. Alberta, like every other province, is facing severe crises in the cost of living, housing, the number of people experiencing homelessness, and more. It’s time to stop the manufactured moral panic over 2SLGBTQIA+ people, and for governments to focus instead on finding the tangible solutions the public expects.