Protesters organized outside the Albany Club in downtown Toronto on Feb. 6 to rally against the presence of Alberta Premier Danielle Smith and her plan to introduce anti-transgender guidelines sanctioning medical care for trans youth.
The demonstration on King Street East near Jarvis Street was organized by the anarchist political activist group Students for Queer Liberation Tkaronto, the Mohawk word for the area which eventually got colonized into Toronto.
Smith proposed policy changes on Jan. 31 restricting access to gender-affirming healthcare and surgeries for transgender youth as well as governmental oversight in children’s pronouns and names used in schools and participation in youth sports.
Alberta Health released statistics showing a total of 49 mastectomies, sometimes referred to as top surgery, were done to minors 17 and under in 2022 and 2023.
Alberta health does not track the reasoning for these surgeries, so it is unclear how many were done for gender affirmation or medical reasons such as cancer or chronic pain.
The non-profit organization Stepping Stone posted on Instagram claiming that they could not find any record of transgender youth under 18 receiving bottom surgery in Canada.
A crowd of over 100 people formed on less than 24 hours notice in front of the club along with two NDP MPPs, Wong-Tam and Joel Harden, also making brief appearances.
Mateo, who did not give his last name because of the group’s anonymous nature, organized the demonstration and was pleased with the turnout.
“We were ready to do this with 25 people, so 100 is pretty good.” He said.
To Mateo, this is one of many actions that will need to be taken by Students for Queer Liberation.
“We’re not going to let anti-trans laws pass in Alberta and we’re not going to let them come to Ontario. We need to support trans youth all over the country,” he said.
While queer rights groups Egale Canada and the Stepping Stone Foundation vowed to take legal action against the province, Mateo remains focused on having boots on the ground.
“A lot of the time were about student mobilization and getting out into the streets, it’s about showing where our power is as youth,” he said.
Protesters chanting slogans such as “f**k Danielle Smith” and “shame” at Albany club members drew both support and spite from pedestrians passing by.
A pedestrian was restrained by Toronto Police as he charged towards protesters, calling them pedophiles.
Venus, a protester and performance artist, revealed cut and burn scars on their body as they stripped shirtless and let other protesters write slogans on them.
They came to Canada as a Persian immigrant fleeing from prosecution for being queer.
“I want to stand for my rights to be queer, non-binary or trans,” Venus said.
“As a mother themselves with a son, they know they need to keep fighting.
“It’s like a black hole in my heart, like a plane crash sometimes you need to put the mask on yourself before you save others,” Venus said.
Smith and the Albany club did not respond to requests for comment.