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Edmontonians protest UCP trans policies in snowstorm Sunday

Flags fly at a trans rights rally at the Alberta Legislature Feb. 25, 2024. Flags fly at a trans rights rally at the Alberta Legislature Feb. 25, 2024.
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Edmontonians gathered Sunday in the snow to protest UCP policies aimed at trans Albertans.

Premier Danielle Smith announced the policies in a social media video Feb. 1.

If passed, new rules would limit access to gender-affirming health care for youth, ban trans athletes from competing in women's sports, change how sexual education is offered in schools, and legislate how and when students can change a name or pronoun at school.

Despite the bad weather, a large crowd gathered outside the Alberta legislature to decry the UCP's plans, saying they would only harm trans and non-binary people.

"Youth are going to actively be oppressed by this action,which will end in mental, physical and emotional neglect, which can cause lifetime challenges, and even death and self harm addiction," said Kayle Mackintosh, an organizer and co-founder of United for Change.

In the weeks since the announcement, medical professionals and experts, teachers, parents and lawyers have urged the UCP to scrap the policies.

Advocates and members of the community have said the new rules would violate rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Julia Clifford, co-founder of United for Change and the parent of a trans child, said it's important that Albertans stand up for trans youth and the larger community.

"It is our job as parents to provide safe places and make our voices known as the voter, that we can provide a safe place and laws that protect the youth of our country, our province and our cities," Clifford said. "And make sure that their voices are heard via us or themselves here."

Smith said the new rules would prevent young people from "making permanent and irreversible decisions regarding one's biological sex while still a youth."

Mackintosh said Smith does not have the knowledge or expertise to make decisions about what medical care Albertans can access.

"These decisions should lay with medical professionals and those who have actually had the education behind them to provide gender affirming care," Mackintosh said.

The premier said the new policies would include working to attract more doctors specializing in trans health care to the province.

Smith's office said the new rules would be implemented through a combination of ministerial orders, regulation and legislation.

The party intends to have the policies fully implemented before the end of 2024. 

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