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Commentary: Dialogue must remain open

Doctors urge UCP government to reconsider proposed new legislation

While it has now been a couple of weeks since the Smith government announced it will be bringing in sweeping changes to gender and sexuality policies as they relate to Alberta youth, the controversy surrounding the proposals continues unabated.

Whether the various sides now facing off over the issue will find common ground before the government attempts to enact the legislation this fall remains anyone’s guess.

What is known is that recent calls by Alberta’s doctors for the government to reconsider the proposed changes should and must be given due weight.

Once implemented the new polices would restrict or prohibit many aspects of gender-affirming care for trans youth.

Specifically, the polices would prohibit all gender reassignment surgeries for minors aged 17 and under, and prohibit the use of puberty blockers and hormone therapies of the purpose of general reassignment or affirmation for youth 15 and under.

Another change would require pre-approval by the ministry of Education of all third-party resource materials or presentations related to gender identity, sexual orientation and human sexuality in Alberta classrooms.

Premier Danielle Smith says the changes will support and protect Alberta’s young people.

The Alberta Medical Association’s Section of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry has taken the extraordinary step of calling on the government to reconsider the changes before they are brought before the legislature.

“We support age-appropriate, accurate and comprehensive education that fosters the health development of children,” the AMA said. “This must include an understanding of sex, gender, relationships and reproductive health as they progressively develop and move toward adulthood.

“We strongly urge the premier to reconsider the proposed policies and offer her the opportunity to collaborate with experienced professionals.”

While MLAs are the elected officials who make laws and enact legislation, Alberta’s doctors are the province’s top health-care providers for all residents.

As such, Albertans will expect the Smith government to undertake meaningful dialogue with Alberta’s doctors on this critical issue in the weeks and months ahead.

Failing to do so would certainly intensify the current controversy.

Dan Singleton is an editor with the Albertan.

Dan Singleton

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