The big news in social policy this week was the announcement in Alberta of a plan to manage the very touchy issue of gender rights, transgenderism and related identity issues as they pertain to children. This is truly a third rail political issue which most politicians are studiously ignoring despite its importance. Pictured is Alberta Premier Danielle Smith. Photo Credit: Government of Alberta/Chris Schwarz.
The big news in social policy this week was the announcement in Alberta of a plan to manage the very touchy issue of gender rights, transgenderism and related identity issues as they pertain to children. This is truly a third rail political issue which most politicians are studiously ignoring despite its importance.
The essence of the Alberta approach is to set age restrictions on various procedures, ensure parents are informed about any changes their child wants to make at school such as name or pronouns and keep biological men who are now trans women out of women’s institutions and sports. Children younger than 15 will not be permitted to take hormone therapy to alter their gender and those younger than 17 will not be allowed to have gender-related surgery. These ages are still quite young, considering that doctors say the human brain does not fully develop until the age of 25.
As for biological males competing against women in sports, this is not only profoundly unfair but dangerous as much larger, stronger trans women can severely injure a biological woman. Permitting trans women into facilities such as women’s and girls’ washrooms, changerooms, penal institutions and other locations have led to a number of instances of assaults, disruption and great discomfort from girls and women just trying to go about their business.
Alberta Premier Danielle Smith was a colleague of mine when I was President and CEO of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. I know her very well. She will be vilified as some kind of right-wing nutjob by those who believe young children should be completely free to undergo such things as gender reassignment surgery, hormone treatments that typically result in permanent changes when taken by young people and other processes that affect gender. The reality is that Danielle is nothing of the sort and, in fact, is more of a libertarian who believes in live and let live as long as no laws are being broken or no one is being harmed.
Public opinion surveys have shown that the majority of parents are very unhappy with the situation in much of the public school system currently, where very young children have been told things like gender is fluid, changing one’s pronouns is almost normalized and, in some instances, even celebrated. Social media is rife with stories of young adults who undertook measures when they were very young that changed them forever, and now that they were older and no longer in the haze of the teenage years or even younger, they greatly regretted their actions and feel they ruined their lives.
Thankfully, our society is much more accepting of people who are gay, lesbians, transgender, or have made choices other than the more traditional male and female. Things are by no means perfect, but certainly have come a long way. It was a terrible time years ago when people had to pretend they were straight and basically live a lie because they feared they would be rejected by their family, their friends and society in general.
That being said, it certainly seems like a good idea to put in place protections for young children and teens. The ages of 15 and 17 are still very young to be making such life-altering decisions. Requiring parental knowledge of what is going on with their children in school should be a no-brainer. There are bad parents, as opponents to these policies always point out, but there are also bad teachers, and both are in the minority. For a teacher to keep vital information about a student away from parents is unacceptable. The Alberta policy also allows for counselling and other assistance, which is likely the best support for confused youth.
The ”woke” crowd is already up in arms about this policy, threatening lawsuits and other retributions. Their over-the-top reaction to anything they disagree with is foolish, as the notion of young kids making momentous and potentially harmful decisions for themselves at a very challenging time in their life is ridiculous.
Some commentators have pointed out such absurdities like the fact that children need their parents’ permission to go on a school trip but not for changing their gender. It will be interesting to see this play out, and hopefully the majority of Albertans and Canadians who support this legislation according to all opinion polls will speak up and counter the very vocal minority that oppose it. It will also provide a good model for other provinces and even other countries to adapt to their own jurisdictions.
Smith has taken a courageous stance and drawn a line in the sand on a matter that most politicians wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole. Something had to be done – good on her for taking a leadership role on a very tough issue.
She has published numerous articles in journals, magazines & other media on issues such as free trade, finance, entrepreneurship & women business owners. Ms. Swift is a past President of the Empire Club of Canada, a former Director of the CD Howe Institute, the Canadian Youth Business Foundation, SOS Children’s Villages, past President of the International Small Business Congress and current Director of the Fraser Institute. She was cited in 2003 & 2012 as one of the most powerful women in Canada by the Women’s Executive Network & is a recipient of the Queen’s Silver & Gold Jubilee medals.