April 16th, 2024

Let’s Chat: Is Alberta inclusive

By Linda Tooth on February 21, 2024.

One of the most beautiful things in life is you can learn so much by asking questions. I have always said there are no stupid questions. As I immerse myself in what is going on in this province, I am learning so much about transgender people and the world that they live in by asking questions.

I recently had the pleasure to meet a trans-woman who graduated high school in Alberta last year. This one-hour conversation was the most enlightening conversation I have had in a long time.

I asked them at what point in their life did they started to feel that something was not right for them. The answer was when they were approximately 12 years old. Now we know as adults and as parents, that age can be difficult for pre-teens.

Can you imagine navigating hormones, teenage drama and the fact you are not happy in your body. The high school they attended was very inclusive and when they decided they wanted to be called by a different name, the administrative assistant at the school made note of it and it was done.

Both parents are incredibly supportive of the journey their child is on and have attended all medical and therapist appointments in a sign of solidarity as a family.

The waitlist for the medical appointments has been long (6-8 months) and the waitlist for the surgery is years as there are only a small handful or surgeons in this country who are specialized. A psychiatrist is visited every three months.

They did share with me that at one point a ‘suicide plan’ was in place and the mention of that brought tears to both me and their mom. I cannot imagine the anguish a parent feels when their child is contemplating suicide.

As mentioned in previous news articles in Medicine Hat, transgender children are not only contemplating suicide but also committing suicide. I asked the parent what their hopes were for their child. They said to be happy and healthy.

As well, people need to stop judging until they walk a mile in the shoes of a transgender person.

The United Conservative Party has on its webpage a section dedicated to Culture & Inclusivity. They state the following points:

Appointed a dedicated staff member in the Premier’s office focused exclusively on 2SLGBTQ+ Albertans. The first of its kind in Alberta history in a conservative Premier’s office.

Introduced a new category in the Stars of Alberta Volunteer Awards to recognize exceptional Albertans who are working to create communities that are diverse and inclusive, including those who are advocating for 2SLGBTQ+ inclusion.

Recognized Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day to memorialize those who have been murdered because of transphobia and bring attention to the ongoing violence directed against the transgender community.

The interview ended with the trans-woman saying that the province of Alberta is not as inclusive as it promotes. Enough said, for now.

Linda Tooth is a communications instructor at Medicine Hat College

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