You matter. You are loved.
Before anything else gets said — before the politicians muddy the water — transgender and non-binary youths need to know this. It needs to be said over and over again.
You matter. You are loved.
It needs to be said because the adults in the room have tried to confuse that message with messy policy, politics and ideology.
Premier Danielle Smith sent a message to those children that she supports them and wants them to know these new legislative changes coming in the fall are to protect them (from whom, it is unclear).
But the policy suggests otherwise.
By many accounts, the changes coming are unnecessary, especially when it comes to gender-affirming care. The surgeries that have been banned aren’t being performed on youths in Alberta or anywhere else. Puberty blockers are only being used in unique cases, with endless consultation between doctors and parents. For the most part, parents aren’t being left out of a young person’s decision to change their pronoun or how they identify in school unless the child has concerns about how their parents will perceive this information.
Let me be very clear: parents should be very involved in decisions at school surrounding their children. But if a child has fears about how that information is shared, that should be respected.
Parents now need to opt-in to any teaching in school around gender identity, sexual orientation or human sexuality. All resources teachers use surrounding that subject needs to be approved by the Ministry of Education. Sure, let’s add more work for teachers already managing overcrowded classrooms and new curricula.
More red tape here, not less.
On so many different fronts, in no particular order, Alberta’s government is fighting unprecedented drought, a crisis in health care, energy sector issues, affordability and housing crises, and yet they find time to attack and limit the human experience of a vulnerable population. Transgender and non-binary kids already face a difficult challenge in living as their true, authentic selves, and now they must face criticism and attacks from adults who claim only to have their best interest at heart.
The bogeyman in the closet, coming to take children away into some LGBTQ+ cult, is a pseudo-enemy right-wing agitators have created to rally support for their causes. It’s designed to anger people. It’s designed to create fear among parents who only want what’s best for their children.
It’s a trojan horse — a goodwill-wrapped piece of legislation that’s really designed to limit the rights of transgender and non-binary youth. Ultimately it puts them in danger, both in schools and in their communities. To those young people worried about how all this will impact them, remember: You are loved and you matter.
Byron Hackett is the Managing Editor of the Red Deer Advocate and a regional editor with Black Press Media.