The group of approximately 50 received much public support as it walked through the streets on the evening of Feb. 13. | Scott Hayes / Jasper FitzhughScott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

A week after a group of schoolchildren walked out from class to hold a protest rally against Premier Danielle Smith’s proposed policy changes affecting trans youth, a larger group comprised of members of the public met in front of the Visitors’ Centre to take the same message to an evening crowd on Feb. 13. 

“We find ourselves at a critical juncture in our province’s history, facing policies proposed by our premier, Danielle Smith, that threaten the safety, well-being and dignity of our transgender youth,” said Jasper Pride board member and event co-organizer Mollie Lalonde Lynch.

She said that Smith’s intentions are harmful, discriminatory and fundamentally unjust to a group that already faces immense challenges in our society, including discrimination, bullying and rejection.

“Let me be clear: these policies are not just misguided. They are harmful, discriminatory, and fundamentally unjust. As parents and educators, it is our duty to advocate for the rights of all children, especially marginalized group, such as transgender youth. transgender youth already faced immense challenges in our society, they grapple with discrimination, bullying, and rejection on a daily basis. 

“Today, in 2024, instead of offering them the support and protection they need, our government is adding to their burden by enacting policies that seek to erase their identity and deny them access to essential health care services.”

Under these proposals, gender-affirming surgeries for youth under 18 would be prohibited, as would the use of hormone therapy for those under 16. For minors aged 16 and 17, hormone therapy would require the parent and physician approval.

For children under 16, parental consent would be required to change their preferred name or pronouns in school. Parents would be notified if youth aged 16 or 17 change their preferred name or pronouns.

“We must remember that every child deserves to be valued, respected, and affirmed for who they are. It is not our place to dictate their identities or to deny them the medical care they need,” Lynch said, pleading with the premier to reconsider this proposal and to listen to transgender youth and their families.

“Let us be on the right side of history,” she said.

The group walked through the streets and garnered only further support with no vocal opposition, said co-organizer Lynn Wannop.

“I think in Jasper we’re really, really lucky. We have such a welcoming community that is just getting bigger and stronger.”

By Scott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Feb 21, 2024 at 10:00

This item reprinted with permission from    The Fitzhugh    Jasper, Alberta

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