NUPGE affirms support for the wellbeing of 2SLGBTQIA+ people after regressive policies are announced in Alberta

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 and the Alberta government’s outright attack on 2SLGBTQIA+ Canadians, and transgender and gender diverse 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 this week. What it does 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 transition process.

This is particularly concerning given Premier Smith’s statement was riddled with scientifically inaccurate pronouncements, repeatedly asserting that children can alter their biological sex – a claim that has no basis in science. Why should a government that can’t grasp the basics of the issue dictate what young people learn and do with their own bodies? 

Alberta goes further than any province

Alberta’s announcement includes these flawed measures: 

  • Bans top and bottom gender reassignment surgeries for young people aged 17, (although young people already cannot access these surgeries).  
  • Bans hormonal treatment, puberty blockers and gender affirming surgery for young people aged 15 years and younger. 16- and 17-year-olds 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 subject matter 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 identify, 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 protected human rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and violate the terms of the Convention on the Rights of the Child to which Canada is a signatory.” 

NUPGE and its Components will continue to advocate for the wellbeing 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 smokescreen to hide their failures of leadership. Alberta, like every other province, is facing severe crises in housing, the cost of living, 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.