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Canadian Province of Alberta Bans Medical Gender Transitions for Minors

Published: February 1, 2024
CALGARY, CANADA - FEB. 26: An aerial view of the Calgary Tower and partial view of the skyline as seen from above in Calgary, Alberta. (Image: Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

On Jan. 31, Daniel Smith, Premiere of the Canadian province of Alberta, announced a set of new guidelines and policies detailing how the province will govern matters related to gender ideology, including what amounts to a near complete ban on medically transitioning minors.

The province will now prohibit hormone treatment and puberty blockers for children 15-years-old and younger and also prohibits top and bottom surgery for minors 17-years-old or younger. 

Teenagers aged 16 or 17 can receive hormone therapy with permission from their legal guardians, a physician and a psychologist.

“Making permanent and irreversible decisions regarding one’s biological sex while still a youth can severely limit that child’s choices in the future,” Smith said. 

“Prematurely encouraging or enabling children to alter their very biology or natural growth, no matter how well intentioned and sincere, poses a risk to that child’s future that I, as premier, am not comfortable with permitting in our province.”

Alberta Health Services (AHS), which is responsible for delivering taxpayer funded healthcare in the province, says on its website that it provides “gender affirming” care to minors as young as five-years-old. 

Albertans seeking medical transition need to have the procedures performed in the province of Quebec where specialists operate out of; however, Smith said that efforts will be launched to attract these specialists to Alberta so that Albertans can receive these surgeries closer to home.  

The sweeping new guidelines also prohibit biological males from competing in women’s sport, but are silent on biological women competing in men’s sports. 

Smith said that her government will work with sports leagues to establish co-ed or gender-neutral divisions to ensure all athletes have an opportunity to compete in a fair environment. 


Mixed reactions

Reactions to the new guidelines vary widely with some celebrating while others expressed concern. Some said the new guidelines do not go far enough.

Chanel Pfahl, who claims to be a former high school teacher, told her over 28,000 followers on X, “I appreciate that this is a step in the right direction. Good on you for that, I support your efforts. Unfortunately though you are seeking to find a ‘middle ground’ with a cult; you are playing their game and using their language. ‘Gender identity’ is not a real thing. It is a made-up term for something that does not exist. ‘Biological sex’ (i.e. sex) cannot be ‘altered,’ it is an immutable trait.”

Randy Boissonnault, who currently serves as Canada’s Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Official Languages, believes the new guidelines are “dangerous” and puts children’s lives at risk.

“With tonight’s announcement by Danielle Smith’s government, I am at the defence of every student and family who will be affected. These policies are the most restrictive in Canada and therefore the most dangerous. Putting kids’ lives at risk,” Boissonnault posted to X.

In a subsequent post he added, “To every 2SLGBTQ+ student who feels targeted tonight, Albertans support you, I stand with you, and we will never stop fighting for you. The premier’s plan threatens the safety of young Albertans. Full reaction to come.”

Independent Canadian journalist, Keean Bexte, told his over 291,000 followers on X, “Danielle Smith just depoliticized the trans issue. Parents are now the decision makers in Alberta. Surgeries are banned on kids, puberty blockers are banned on young kids, and schoolgirls won’t have to play rugby against the 220lbs Joe from Math.”


‘Parental involvement is critical’

Smith said that parental involvement is “critical” to a child’s development and followed in the steps of the neighboring province of Saskatchewan and now requires schools to keep parents in the loop should their child choose to change their name or use pronouns inconsistent with their biological sex at school..  

“Gender identity can be a hard thing to talk about, especially when you are involved. But this conversation is extremely important and parental involvement is critical. Kids need to know we love and support them,” Smith wrote.

The province now requires public schools to notify parents if their child chooses to use a different name or pronouns at school. 

Students 15-years-old or younger will need permission from their legal guardians to use a different name or pronouns in school, while students 16-years-old or older will not need permission from their guardians, however if a student in this age range does choose to use a different name or pronouns the school is required to notify the students’ legal guardians.

The guidelines also require teachers to receive approval from the province’s education ministry before they can use any third-party instruction material on gender identity, sexual orientation and human sexuality, in the classroom.