Elliot Page, Tegan and Sara, and More Sign Letter Protesting Canadian Anti-Trans Policies

Over 400 Canadian artists, including Elliot Page, k.d. lang, Carly Rae Jepsen, and more have signed an open letter opposing anti-transgender legislation.

Spearheaded by the Tegan and Sara Foundation, the letter was published on Sunday to coincide with the International Transgender Day of Visibility, observed annually on March 31.

“We all deserve the freedom to be ourselves, to be safe and treated with dignity,” the letter begins. “2SLGBTQIA+ people are our friends, family, neighbours and coworkers. But far right groups are tapping into fear and pitting us against each other so they can create a Canada where we’re afraid of difference.”

While anti-trans legislation has not yet proliferated across Canada with the same fervor that it has in the United States, the letter is a response to some troubling early warning signs of a similar trajectory. In February, Alberta premier Danielle Smith proposed a set of new policies that regulate access to gender-affirming healthcare for trans youth, as the CBC reported. That includes a ban on hormones and blockers for those under 16, and a total ban on surgery for all minors. Smith’s proposals also include parental notification policies around students changing their name or pronouns, a ban on trans women competing in women’s sports leagues, and more.

The Alberta policies follow similar developments in the provinces of Saskatchewan and New Brunswick last year. In June 2023, New Brunswick’s government moved to change a policy that was previously meant to provide protections for LGBTQ+ students, adding language that would require parental notification when a student requests new names or pronouns. The proposed change required students who opt out of parental involvement to be sent to counseling, as the CBC noted. (In August, New Brunswick’s Department of Education clarified that students would be “encouraged, rather than directed” to speak with a mental health professional in such cases.) Additionally, last October the province of Saskatchewan passed a bill requiring parental consent for students under 16 if they ask to use a new name or pronouns at school, per the BBC.

The letter from the Canadian artists acknowledges that the country “is often seen as a human rights haven,” but also says that “Canada is not immune to the global attack on the trans community and their access to inclusive spaces, healthcare and freedoms.”

“The anti-trans policies taking root in Canada go beyond discrimination — they present a clear risk to the mental and physical well-being of trans individuals throughout the country,” the letter reads.

Other signatories to the message include musician and author Vivek Shraya, Sort Of creator Bilal Baig, and writer Fariha Róisín. Music legends Neil Young, Alanis Morissette, and Sarah McLachlan also signed onto the statement.

The letter ends by reaffirming that the signatories “stand against these alarming and destructive policies, and call on the general public to turn their attention to a growing problem in our country.”

“The government should never put themselves between parents, their kids, and evidence-based healthcare and supports,” it concludes.

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