Alberta Premier Danielle Smith announced on January 31 that her right-wing United Conservative Party (UCP) government was introducing new policies to radically limit transgender people’s rights. Criticism of the move appeared immediately, including from a labour movement leader who called the government’s attacks part of a “twisted game.”
The UCP policies constitute a series of measures which limit transgender rights across a range of areas. These include restricting access to medical treatments for transgender youth, excluding transgender athletes from competing as women, requiring schools to obtain parental permission before every lesson involving gender identity or human sexuality, and banning teachers from using students’ preferred pronouns or name without parental notification.
The policies are reflective of similar restrictions imposed by right-wing governments in New Brunswick and Saskatchewan last year – and discussed by other conservatives including Doug Ford and Pierre Poilievre – but are more sweeping and restrictive.
Alberta Federation of Labour President Gil McGowan says the proposals have nothing to do with the government’s claim that it is protecting students and supporting parents. “The goal is to create scapegoats, sow division and erode trust in public institutions, especially our public schools,” he warns. “The fact that they’re using some of our most vulnerable kids as targets in this twisted game, and literally putting their lives at risk in the process, makes it even more despicable.”
McGowan notes that parental consent is already required for all surgeries on children, including for gender affirmation, which he said shows the government is using this as a wedge issue to weaken opposition to its right-wing social and economic policies.
In addition to supporting trans and other 2SLGBTIQ+ students, the AFL president is calling for people to rally to defense of the public school system. “The real problem with our schools is that they’re grossly underfunded by the provincial government – undermining sex education and forcing teachers to out kids and will only make things worse.”
As with other conservative politicians across Canada, the UCP has introduced these anti-trans attacks at a time when they want to divide a building movement of working people. “They want to distract us from the fact that they’re not doing anything to address the affordability crisis, the crisis in our health care system, the climate change crisis or the drought and wildfire crisis that is going slam into us like a freight train in the spring,” warns McGowan.
“They also want us fighting amongst ourselves so it’s easier for them to dismantle our pensions and privatize our health care and education systems. They want to divide us. Let’s give them the opposite – an Alberta that is united against their toxic agenda and vile tactics.”
[Photo: Danielle Smith with kindred right-wing spirits Jordan Peterson, Tucker Carlson and Conrad Black]
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