Source: Facebook

At the recent Junos in Halifax, Calgary musical duo Tegan and Sara level criticism at Premier Danielle Smith for banning transgender surgeries for minors.

The twin sisters aimed at what they described as the Alberta government’s “attack” on LGBTQ rights while accepting the Humanitarian Award for their foundation’s work.  

The award was presented by Oscar-nominated transgender actor Elliot Page, who’s also a member of the Tegan and Sara Foundation Board.

The Tegan and Sara Foundation was founded in December 2016 by the Calgary natives following the United States presidential election to advocate for “economic justice, health, and representation for LGBTQ girls and women.”

Tegan and Sara have ten studio albums, earning a Grammy nomination in 2012 and winning various Juno Awards, along with a long list of other awards.

While accepting their Humanitarian Award on stage at the Junos this year for their foundation, the sisters switched the focus from music to trans rights. 

“If the world were not so hostile to 2SLGBTQ+ people, we would see ourselves purely as musicians,” said Sara Quin, addressing the audience.

“We are dedicated to confronting any form of discrimination that threatens the well-being of our community, threats like the Alberta government’s attempt to prevent trans youth from accessing vital care. These attacks are harmful because they are directed at kids who need our support the most.”.

Smith announced banning top and bottom gender surgeries for children aged 17 and under in January. Alongside that announcement were prohibitions on  the use of puberty blockers and hormone therapies for minors aged 15 and under. However, 16-year-old and 17-year-old minors would be able to commence hormone therapies with the purpose of gender reassignment with approval from parents, physicians, and psychologists.

Following Smith’s announcement, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre doubled down on his opposition to gender surgeries for children and praised Smith’s “common-sense protections.”

Poilievre accompanied his support for Smith with a National Post article containing a poll showing that approximately half of Canadians support banning gender reassignment surgeries and cross-sex hormones for children. Only 24% saw it as an “attack on transgender children.” An even lesser 11% believed that minors should be permitted to pursue gender reassignment surgery without parental consent.

Danielle Smith’s press secretary, Sam Blackett, responded to Tegan and Sara’s criticism of the Alberta government in a statement to True North.

“The government is introducing these policies across several ministries to preserve the choices children and youth have before potentially making life-altering and often irreversible adult decisions,” said Blackett.

He said that the province is providing additional support by bringing medical professionals specializing in transgender care to assist transgender adults in Alberta.

“We’re also developing a private registry of medical professionals who specialize in this field to make it easier for transgender Albertans to access needed medical treatment and care. Additionally, we’re developing a counselling pilot project to help youth identifying as transgender and their families work through often difficult and complex issues and discussions,” said Blackett.