OPINION: Leave healthcare policies to professionals, not politicians

Sep 21, 2023 | Opinion

Healthcare is a fundamental human right, but a policy statement adopted by the federal Conservatives threatens to take that away from transgender youth.

At its policy convention in Quebec City earlier this month, a majority of representatives voted for a motion stating children under 18 should be prohibited from gender-related “life-altering medicinal or surgical interventions.”

Wisely, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre said he is not bound to adopt any of the policies passed at the party convention in his election platform.

But the proposal follows the wave of laws in the U.S. and across Canada blatantly directed at — and suppressing — the LGBTQ+ community.

Creating laws that limit the life-changing procedures of gender-affirming care for trans youth can do more harm than good.

It could be a matter of life and death.

“Gender-affirmative health care can include any single or combination of several social, psychological, behavioural, or medical (including hormonal treatment or surgery) interventions designed to support and affirm an individual’s gender identity” when it conflicts with the gender assigned at birth, the World Health Organization said.

These interventions are vital in helping transgender align various aspects of their emotional, interpersonal, and biological lives with their gender identity to help eliminate gender dysmorphia and other mental health issues.

At the convention, Michelle Badalich, an Edmonton delegate, did mention dysphoria, a profound state of unease or dissatisfaction, but said it is a “mental health disorder.” She said it shouldn’t be treated with “irreversible procedures.”

Although it’s unclear which medical treatments the Conservatives would target, banning any or all steps can be detrimental and demoralizing to the overall well-being of trans youth.

Ironically, Badalich and other politicians have used “protect our children” as an excuse to pass the recent anti-LGBTQ+ laws. But they are doing the opposite while putting them at an even higher risk.

Research led by the Stanford University School of Medicine found transgender people who began hormone treatment in adolescence had fewer thoughts of suicide, were less likely to experience significant mental health disorders, and had fewer problems with substance abuse than those who started hormones in adulthood.

Gender-affirming care is healthcare. It saves the lives of trans youth and should be accessible if needed.

Kids deserve to live their truest lives and should be able to choose what they want to do with their bodies with the help of medical care professionals and parents.

Politicians should protect all children, not just those they think should be protected.