Alberta Premier Danielle Smith during a social media video explaining her new anti-trans policies.
Alberta Premier Danielle Smith during a social media video explaining her new anti-trans policies. Credit: Danielle Smith / X Credit: Danielle Smith / X

Alberta has declared war on its 2SLGBTQ+ population. And trans children are going to suffer the consequences.

Yesterday, Premier Danielle Smith announced dramatic and draconian changes to Alberta’s approach to the healthcare, education, and inclusion of transgender youth. 

The Province will now prohibit children 15-years-old and younger from accessing puberty blockers and gender-affirming hormone therapy—even though both are safe, effective, and limit the long-term mental health damage of forcing gender-diverse youth to go through the puberty of the sex they were assigned at birth. The Province will now prohibit children 17-years-old and younger from accessing gender-confirming top and bottom surgeries—even though such surgeries were never available to youth in the first place. 

The Province will now require schools to obtain parents’ permission before recognizing the chosen names and pronouns of students 15-years-old and younger, an approach that mirrors the one taken in neighbouring Saskatchewan. For students aged 16 or 17, schools will “only” be required to notify their parents (read: “out” them) first. 

READ MORE: Saskatchewan implements anti-trans school policies, endangering youth

The Province will prohibit transgender women from competing in women’s sports. Instead, it will work with sporting authorities to create sex-segregated and sex-integrated leagues.

And the list of changes goes on.

This is state violence against trans people

We need to be very clear about the consequences of Alberta’s new approach: trans people are going to die. 

Before you accuse me of hysterics, consider why gender-affirming healthcare in particular is necessary in the first place.

Gender dysphoria wreaks havoc on the minds and bodies of those who suffer from it.

By gender dysphoria, I mean the felt incongruence some people experience between the sex they were assigned at birth and the gender with which they identify.

Some youth with gender dysphoria end up needing long-term counselling. Too many end up needing a funeral. 

That’s because gender dysphoria is strongly linked to suicidality amongst gender-diverse children. One study estimated that between 32 per cent and 50 per cent of transgender people of all ages have attempted suicide at least once. Another study found that trans youth, in particular, are five times more likely than their cisgender peers to attempt suicide. Another study found that, in 2014, one-in-three trans youth attempted suicide.

But here’s the thing: We know how to reduce that suicide rate. And it’s by affirming trans people in their gender diversity.

Trans people who want puberty blockers and receive them have a lower lifetime risk of suicidality than trans people who want puberty blockers and do not get them. Trans and nonbinary youth who receive gender-affirming healthcare, including puberty blockers and gender-affirming hormone therapy, see their suicide risk fall by 73 per cent as a result. Whereas “67% of transitioning people thought about suicide pre-transition…only 3% [thought about suicide] post-medical transition.”

This is exactly the sort of care that Alberta will be denying to trans youth. And the consequences will be more than academic.

Trans youth are going to die by suicide. 

The goal is to eradicate trans people

Trans lives matter. 

The lives of trans youth matter.

And we should care that Alberta is going to eradicate many of those lives.

But we should not lose sight of the long-term goal underlying the Province’s approach: The point of making it impossible to be a trans youth is to make it impossible to grow up and become a trans adult. The point of killing trans youth is to wipe out the next generation of trans adults. The point of all this is to destroy trans people as a meaningful population.

That’s genocide. 

The time is now to act

One thing is clear from the news coming out of Alberta: Those with the means need to act now to defend trans lives in the province.

Egale Canada and Calgary’s Skipping Stone Foundation have already declared their intention to take legal action against Danielle Smith’s government. Such action is essential: courts have the power to intervene to stop abuses of governmental power, but only if people sue abusive governments in the first place. 

But lawsuits are expensive. Which is why I urge my readers to contribute funds to Egale and Skipping Stone to support their legal action. And, if you are a member of the legal profession, I urge you to reach out to both organizations to ask how you can lend your legal expertise to their fight.

Lawsuits are also complicated. Which is why courts rely on interveners to help clarify issues and bring forward new and unique perspectives on issues. If you’re in a position of influence within an Albertan or a Canadian institution, I urge you to use that influence to get your organization involved as an intervener in Egale and Skipping Stone’s forthcoming lawsuit.

But courts aren’t everything. And as we’ve seen in Saskatchewan, there is a very real risk that the government will invoke the abusive “notwithstanding clause” to void trans people’s Charter rights. Which is why people need to show Alberta’s government that its attack on trans people will be impossibly costly on a political level. 

People need to take to the streets in protest. People need to write letters and emails to their elected officials. People need to take to social media to express solidarity with the trans community.

It’s time to stand up and be counted.

Charlotte Dalwood

Charlotte Dalwood (she/they) is a JD student at the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Law. Their previous publications include articles in CBC News Online and the Edmonton Journal. Find them on Twitter...