Danielle Smith and the United Conservative Party continued their trend of passing new policies without consulting stakeholders this week, begging the question — who are they talking to?
Certainly not trans youth, who are already at a higher risk of self-harm, suicidal ideation, and high-risk behaviour than their peers.
Certainly not teachers, who say they weren’t consulted before the province made the decision to require them to forcibly out students who wish to use a different name or set of pronouns.
Certainly not medical professionals, who are left shaking their heads at healthcare policies that are going to leave them unable to provide critical, gender-affirming care like puberty blockers to their patients. And no, puberty blockers don’t cause fertility issues later in life, despite what some people have claimed since the announcement.
And, certainly, not to anyone with a smidgen of relevant expertise or knowledge, or direct experience of the topic, who would have told them every bit of statistical data we have says this move will cause irreversible harm to children.
Historically, queer people, and particularly queer youth, have been over-represented in homeless populations — recent research says around 10 per cent of the Canadian population identifies as LGBTQ+, but some estimates say LGBTQ+ youth make up between 25 and 40 per cent of homeless youth.
Transgender and gender non-conforming people are also horrifically over-represented in statistics around mental health and suicide. They are five times as likely to attempt suicide as their peers, they’re five times as likely to have mental health issues, they’re twice as likely to experience severe poverty and homelessness, and they’re seven times as likely to abuse drugs or other substances.
So, in light of all the statistics around this issue, what is the province's solution? Naturally, it’s to make the life of children more difficult to appease the increasingly vocal far-right branch of the UCP.
Governments shouldn’t be punching down towards their most vulnerable populations, regardless of political ideology. It’s cruel, callous, and certainly not what they got elected for.
Smith is catering to groups like Take Back Alberta, and in the process is demonstrating a willingness to adopt American-style social policy that will only hurt everyday Albertans. No one benefits from these policies, and they don’t fix (real) issues. Instead, it delivers a victory for ideologues, who can crow about corrupt teachers who are seeking to usurp the role parents play in their kids’ lives.