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Alberta Children's Services Captured by Abusive "Gender-Affirming" Policies
Children, particularly indigenous children, continue to be collateral damage
This past summer, I wrote about a British Columbia Office of the Representative for Children and Youth (RCY) report that specifically targeted kids in care with the atrocity known as “gender-affirming care.” I also wrote about how my friend, Lois Cardinal, e-mailed the RCY to inquire about how many of the youth in care in BC receiving “gender-affirming care” are indigenous and why these children are not approached in a culturally competent manner before having their identity “affirmed.”
These questions are incredibly important because indigenous kids make up the majority of kids in care in Canada (53.8%) despite being just 7.7% of the Canadian child population. Indigenous kids are also overrepresented in Canada’s youth gender clinics.
In response to Lois, the RCY answered that “gender-affirming care services” themselves encompass a cultural, holistic, and historical approach to indigenous kids with gender issues.
Such a shallow, vapid, and uninformed response was shocking, but not surprising. Gender ideology has taken over every institution in Canada and you’d be a fool to think that child services had been left untouched. Still, to see this capture presented so starkly and confidently was really quite jarring.
You’d also be a fool to think that Alberta had escaped gender ideology capture just because it has a reputation as Canada’s most conservative province.
Lois e-mailed Alberta Children and Family Services with similar concerns, writing:
We must take a holistic, cultural, and psychotherapeutic approach when dealing with an already marginalized group. Historical wrongs should be taken into consideration including, generational impacts, loss of cultural self, cultural identity, this should not be repeated under a new methodology…
Any information regarding indigenous youths in care accessing gender affirming care would be gratefully appreciated.
Keep in mind that an astounding 74% of youth in care in Alberta are indigenous, making this a particularly pressing issue for our province.
Lois’ inquiry was shared with the Director of Policy & Practice Supports Katrina Shouldice, who was “pleased to respond” and pleased to blatantly ignore the concerns Lois had raised, writing back:
Child Intervention continues to ensure service delivery is inclusive to all, including LGBTQ2S+ young people.
Dear Shouldice, if you are already calling these kids “LGBTQ2S+,” then you have already failed them. Then there is no other possible answer but to affirm a child’s declared transgender identity, and that is exactly what Alberta Children and Family Services does. Shouldice continues:
The Children and Family Services (CFS) information system records mandatory high-level demographic information on the race of children and youth receiving services and provides reporting on Indigenous and non-Indigenous children and youth.
In the e-mail, Shouldice also provided a link to the Enhancement policy manual. According to the Government of Alberta, this document
contains policies and procedures that direct casework staff when delivering services under the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act. The Manual is provincial policy and procedural requirements that all casework staff in Child and Family Services Authorities and Delegated First Nation Agencies are expected to comply with. The policies provide direction and procedures for most common situations.
Shouldice directed Lois to section 3.5 on Gender Affirming Health Supports and Services, which explicitly states that
CS [Child Services] provides gender-affirming health supports and services when a child or youth in the care the director identifies as gender diverse or transgender.
And declares that the purpose of this policy is
To enable a child or youth feel safe to indicate, and to explore, their gender identity and gender expression. This fosters their healthy development, and may include:
acknowledging the need for medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria,
finding a physician who has the medical skills to provide accurate medical options for the child or youth,
social transitioning (i.e. altering appearance and personal information) and medical transitioning (i.e. hormone therapy, supports and medical services leading to gender affirming surgery) for those children or youth identifying as transgender or gender diverse.
Don’t let anyone tell you that children are not being medically transitioned. It is happening and it is happening to some of the most vulnerable children in our society, as explicitly stated in the very policies of Alberta Child Services.
The situation gets even worse. In the section on Practice Supports, the framework principals state that Child Services ensures that any children or youth in care who identify as “transgender or gender diverse” are provided with supports and services. And not just supports and services, but specifically gender-affirming ones. The idea that there is any situation where it might be inappropriate to transition a child who declares a transgender identity is completely out of the question.
In fact, casework staff are supposed to encourage children to declare a transgender identity even if the child is reluctant to do so:
Recognize that some children and youth may not express their gender identity to others due to factors such as:
social pressure of cisgender (typical male and female) stereotypes,
fear of discrimination, bullying and/or rejection, or
threat(s) of violence.
Discuss gender identity and gender expression with the child or youth, and ensure they feel safe and supported in their decision.
Exactly zero thought is spared for the reasons why a child might claim to be transgender, which can include anything from social pressure from other children caught up in the social contagion of gender identity to sex abuse.
And what about when it comes to the question of how all of this specifically impacts indigenous kids who, again, make up the vast majority of kids in care in Alberta?
The document spares just two short paragraphs on this topic:
Discuss with the child or youth to ensure the child or youth feels safe and is supported when making a determination to include the DFNA, First Nations designate or Métis Resource person to be a part of the discussions and planning required to support the child or youth in decision-making.
It is important to work collaboratively with the DFNA, First Nations designate or Métis Resource to ensure they have the knowledge of the transgender or gender-diverse child or youth and their cultural needs.
This is nothing but empty lip service to “cultural needs” that, once again, takes for granted the idea that children who say they are trans are really somehow the opposite sex or born in the wrong body (or whatever ludicrous theory about gender identity one wants to offer), and need to be medically transitioned.
How, exactly, does it meet an indigenous child’s cultural needs to take cross-sex hormones?
Lois had the exact same thought, telling me:
I am shocked to see no framework in place to ensure cultural integrity for these children in care. A lack of safeguards may equal sterility, which has a history within our province with first nations people.
Regarding exactly how many indigenous children in care identify as transgender, Shouldice had no answer. If she did, she might be forced to reckon with some concerning numbers. But would she even care?
People like her and others who are supposed to act as child advocates in this country have completely abdicated the responsibility of that role. This is exactly the case with Kelly Lamrock, the New Brunswick Child and Youth Advocate, who has been critical of changes to provincial policy that meant teachers were no longer mandated to use the preferred names and pronouns of students under 16.
There is no other word for policies that mandate the transitioning of children and the people who support them but abusive. It is abusive to confuse children about something as fundamental as their sex and downright evil to indoctrinate them into a sterilization cult.
At the end of the day, there are no words strong enough to explain the horrific nature of what is happening and to underscore how entrenched these policies and practices are in our institutions. Even when public perception on this issue changes—and it will—undoing the damage is going to be a difficult task.
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