Canada should stop obsessing over trans youth

Youth safety and wellbeing is on the line in Alberta

Canada’s new transgender youth policies spark heated debate.

This article discusses suicide and may be triggering for some readers. The Canadian Mental Health Association Crisis Line can be reached at 1-800-875-6213.

Canada continues to prove it’s anti-trans.

Canada has a long history of discriminating against trans youth, brought to light in September of 2023 with what organizers call the “parental rights” movement. Last fall, thousands across the country gathered for the 1 Million March 4 Children—protesting education on sexual orientation and gender identity in schools.

The recent actions of the Conservative Party of Canada Leader Pierre Poilievre and Alberta Premier Danielle Smith brought this issue back into the media early this month, reminding us Canada is indeed anti-trans. Poilievre’s declaration of non-support for transgender youth accessing puberty blockers, vital medications that provide individuals with the opportunity to explore their gender identity without the irreversible effects of puberty, reflects a lack of understanding and overall empathy for the challenges these youth face.

In addition, on Feb. 4, Smith formally proposed policies in Alberta which would mandate parental consent for children aged 15 or under to use their chosen names and pronouns at school. This raises significant concerns about privacy, safety, and acceptance for these vulnerable youth.

Requiring parental consent effectively outs transgender youth to their families, potentially putting them in harm’s way if their parents don’t support or understand their gender identity. This proposed policy comes after Saskatchewan passed Bill 137 in October—also known as Parents’ Bill of Rights—which makes parental consent mandatory before a child under 16 can use a different name or different pronouns at school.

Smith argues this policy is meant to preserve children’s rights and allow them to make adult decisions as adults. However, what it really does is disregard and undermine the autonomy and rights of transgender and gender non-conforming youth while exposing them to harmful environments where they may face rejection, discrimination, or even violence from their own families.

Instead of exposing youth to risk of greater harm, it’s imperative Canadian policymakers prioritize the safety and well-being of transgender youth. This is possible by enacting policies to affirm their identities, protect their rights to privacy and self-expression, and provide them with access to essential healthcare services without unnecessary barriers.

Failure to do so not only undermines the fundamental principles of equality and human rights, but further perpetuates systemic discrimination and harm against transgender individuals in Canada.

Many transgender youths don’t have supportive or understanding parents, and mandating parental consent effectively forces them to disclose their gender identity to unsupportive family members, putting them at risk of rejection, abuse, or homelessness.

According to a Canadian study by The Family Acceptance Project, 30 per cent of families reject their child when they come out, and many are removed from their homes—something Smith mistakenly claims is unlikely. For those who do experience familial rejection, the rates of suicide and self-harm are incredibly high. According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, 79 per cent of those rejected by their families experience suicidal ideation and 43 per cent have made a suicide attempt.

Instead of imposing unnecessary restrictions and barriers on transgender youth, Canadian policymakers should focus on implementing inclusive and affirming policies that prioritize the rights and well-being of individuals—regardless of their gender identity.

This includes ensuring access to comprehensive healthcare services, including puberty blockers and gender-affirming hormone therapy, without discrimination or unnecessary obstacles.

Additionally, schools should be a safe and inclusive environment where all students feel respected, valued, and supported in expressing their gender identity. Educators and school administrators play a crucial role in creating a positive and affirming school climate for transgender students by implementing anti-discrimination policies, providing training on LGBTQ+ inclusivity, and fostering a culture of acceptance and respect for diversity—making schools a much-needed refuge for many LGBTQ+ students. No one should have to worry about outing themselves just to be able to use their preferred name at a place where they spend most of their time.

Greater efforts are also needed to raise awareness and educate the public about transgender issues and the experiences of transgender individuals, particularly youth. This includes providing resources and support for their parents, caregivers, and family members of transgender youth to better understand and affirm their child’s gender identity.

Canada must prioritize the safety of its youth, no matter their gender identity.


Canada, Politics, Trans Youth

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