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Op-ed: The premier who kicked the hornet’s nest

"This seems like a true clash of values, and trying to shove one perspective on such a complex issue down people’s throats is a recipe for disaster."
Alberta Premier Danielle Smith. | File photo

Another day, another battle in the culture war.

I’m talking, obviously, about the kerfuffle surrounding Alberta Premier Danielle Smith’s proposed policies regarding transgender youths that will begin this fall.

One such policy prohibits gender reassignment surgeries for minors under 18.

But what Smith didn’t tell you was bottom surgery is already limited to adults in Canada, so what was the point of legislating against that? I suppose this would include top surgeries, which are currently available for those 16 and older.

Alberta will also ban the use of puberty blockers and hormone therapies for children under 16, except for those already undergoing treatment.

I’m at a loss on this one. While I’m not a doctor, the idea that hormones or puberty blockers don’t have any permanent consequences seems to fly in the face of reality.

Consider the New York Times article raising concerns about how puberty blockers could lead to long-term complications such as issues with bone density.

We don’t let minors have sex, drink alcohol or get tattoos, and jurisdictions even ban flavoured vaps in the name of protecting kids, and yet so many people are passionate about ensuring youths have access to gender-affirming health care that it does give me pause. Could denying this access increase the risk of suicide or self-harm for trans youths?

All I can say is many people are legitimately trans, but there are also those who change their mind or may have regrets. To deny any of these experiences is dishonest, and far too many people have been shouted down for having reasonable questions.

In addition, the proposed policies say parents must consent for their child under 16 to alter their name or pronouns used by school staff.

Children between 16 and 17 won’t require consent, but their parents must still be notified.

On one hand, since when do public employees get to withhold information from parents about their own underage children? Shouldn’t parents know what’s happening with their kids?

On the other hand, what if the child is worried about their parents disowning them? What if they want to slowly ease into their social transition rather than rip off the bandage?

This seems like a true clash of values, and trying to shove one perspective on such a complex issue down people’s throats is a recipe for disaster.

Conservatives have whipped themselves up into a moral panic over how liberals supposedly want to “trans their kids,” and Smith is more than happy to throw them red meat rather than do something more difficult like preparing Alberta for a potentially disastrous wildfire season.

Speaking of schooling, maybe we should ask why Alberta still has Catholics public schools. Seems like the government showing preference to one religion over others would be a major concern, but conservatives don’t want to talk about that, do they?

The focus is also often on inflammatory issues, like pronouns and puberty blockers, while more important but less contentious trans issues are ignored.

For example, I know a trans person who was kicked out of their apartment, and I saw them get plenty of antagonistic glares from a bunch of old farts hanging out at an A&W.

Many other trans individuals also have trouble finding employment and are undoubtedly more at risk of physical and sexual assault.

Ultimately, trans individuals who simply want to live their lives are sadly caught in the middle of this current circus, all so Smith can get her headlines, and there’s just something a little scummy about that.

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