February 28th, 2024

MLA Wright voices support for trans rules while local groups scramble to react

By Brendan Miller on February 2, 2024.

bmiller@medicinehatnews.com

While local advocacy groups scramble to react to a video message posted Wednesday by Premier Danielle Smith on the platform X introducing the UCP’s new sweeping transgender policy, the area’s other MLA has voiced his support.

Cypress-Medicine Hat MLA Justin Wright provided the News the following statement:

“When I ran in the last election, I was clear that I was doing so for my kids, and to help build an Alberta that all Alberta kids can grow and thrive in, regardless of where they live. I also ran on protecting parental rights.

“I support this policy direction, as it helps preserve important, adult choices for our kids, and enhances parental rights in our schools. Further, I strongly believe that we, as a society, must support and reach out with kindness to all of our neighbours regardless of how they identify, and work to eliminate the discrimination that many in our society may experience in their lives.

“Alberta’s government will continue to ensure Albertans are supported, and that Albertans’ rights are protected through this process and beyond.”

Under the policy all gender reassignment surgeries for minors aged 17 and under are prohibited. Children aged 15 or younger will not be allowed to use puberty blockers and hormone therapies for the purpose of gender reassignment, and teens aged 16 and 17 will require approval from a parent, physician and psychologist to use puberty blockers.

The policy also places restrictions on the content taught at schools in human sexuality classes, parents must opt in for their children to participate in the class and all subject matter must be pre-approved by the Ministry of Education.

At school, parents must give consent for children aged 15 and under to alter their name or pronouns used by teachers, and parents must be notified for a child aged 16 and 17 to do the same.

Under the policy the province says it will work with sporting organizations to ensure biologically born female athletes are able to compete in a biological female-only division.

The Pride Association of Southeast Alberta held an emergency meeting Thursday evening with members to discuss potential implications of the policy. They are expected to provide the News a statement later today.

PRISM – a non-hierarchical, community-led NGO in Medicine Hat created by 2SLGBTQIA+ volunteers – is also expected to provide the News a statement after board members have had an opportunity to meet.

The Medicine Hat Public School Division board provided the News with the following statement from chair Catherine Wilson:

“Once we have seen the new government policies and supporting documents, and have had time to consider them we will be pleased to provide comment.”

NDP MLA for Edmonton-Glenora Sarah Hoffman says the policy is an attempt to divide and turn children against parents, teachers against parents and children against each other.

She says Smith is using transgender minors as a political punching bag.

“I think is so disrespectful, it’s so divisive, and it’s a really dangerous precedent for children that we know are more likely to attempt suicide, more likely to experience homelessness,” says Hoffman. “I think Alberta children deserve better, especially trans children.”

Hoffman says she is concerned by recent actions that Smith is inspired by extreme right-wing politics and not focusing on the issues important to Albertans that include cost of living, environment, health care and education.

“There are many big important things that she could be focusing on. And instead, she’s going after trans kids and trying to tell them which Little League team they’re allowed to play on,” says Hoffman.

The News reached out for a statement from Mayor Linnsie Clark but did not immediately receive a response.

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