Photo credit: Beth Baisch
Smith revealed that under the new rules, anyone under 17 will not be able to access “top and bottom gender reassignment surgeries,” and those under 15 years will be prevented from receiving puberty blockers and hormone therapies aimed at interfering with their natural sexual development. Women's sports will also be protected by barring biological males who claim to be females from competing.
In a video posted to social media, Smith said she is committed to “support and reach out with kindness and inclusion to those who identify as transgender and work to eliminate the discrimination they often experience in their lives,” but made it clear that she does not believe children should be making consequential decisions about changing their gender or sex at such a young age.
“As we all know children and teenagers are in a constant state of biological, social, emotional, and sexual development and change,” she explained. “They're constantly learning about themselves, trying new things, dealing with biological changes and trying to understand a wide range of new thoughts and feelings. It's a very complicated time.”
Smith added that children have “the right to grow and develop into mature adults so that they are better prepared to make the most impactful decisions affecting their lives.”
“Deciding whether or not to alter one's biological sex, making permanent and irreversible decisions regarding one's biological sex, while still a youth, can severely limit that child's choices in the future,” she warned. “Prematurely encouraging or enabling children to alter their very biology or natural growth, no matter how well-intentioned and sincere, poses a risk to that child's future that I as premier am not comfortable with permitting in our province.”
On the issue of men in women's sports, Smith explained that “the risks and unfair advantages that young women and girls are experiencing when competing with biologically stronger transgender females and sporting competitions, have also grown too high.”
The new rules would still permit Albertans aged 16 and 17 to begin hormone therapy, but only with the permission of their parents, a physician, and a psychologist.
Parents must also approve any name or pronoun change by students under 15 years of age. Students older than that can change their pronouns at school, but must inform their parents of their decision to do so.
Smith made it clear that activist groups coming into the schools with information on gender identity, sexual orientation and human sexuality in gender must first have their material approved by the Alberta Ministry of Education.
Parents will have the right to decide whether they want their children exposed to this information by opting in – as they would with any field trip – and not being forced to opt-out.
More details are expected to be revealed at a news conference on Thursday.