July 18th, 2024

Trans legislation protested outside MLA’s office

By Lethbridge Herald on March 14, 2024.

Reverend Taylor Croissant of Southminster United Church talks to a gathering outside Lethbridge East MLA Nathan Neudorf’s during a PIE Day protest opposing proposed UCP government legislation targeting transgender youth. Herald photo by Al Beeber

Al Beeber – LETHBRIDGE HERALD – abeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

March 14 was Pi Day which is a worldwide celebration of mathematics.

Pi, of course, is the symbol used to represent the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter, namely 3.14159.

But the day was hardly one of celebration for members of Southminster and McKillop United Churches who met at noon outside of the constituency office of Lethbridge East MLA Nathan Neudorf to serve pie in a peaceful protest against the UCP government’s planned legislation on transgender youth.

For members of the Affirm United Ensemble and Affirming Connections, March 14 was also PIE (Public, Intentional, Explicit) Day, which was established by those entities to celebrate the full inclusion of LGBTQ2SIA+ people in faith communities and beyond those boundaries.

“The day also reminds and challenges us to continue widening our welcome and using the concepts of PIE Day to embody love and celebrate gender and sexual diversity in all its forms,” says the pieday.ca website. 

Affirming Connections, says the website, was created to “strengthen and amplify the affirming voice and actions of fully inclusive faith and spiritual communities in Southern Alberta (The Chinook Winds region), and beyond.”

Southminster and McKillop are part of the Affirming United Churches of Canada and from noon until 1 p.m. led by Reverend Taylor Croissant (Southminster) and Trevor Potter (McKillop), members served pie in a peaceful effort to convince Neudorf to urge premier Danielle Smith to retract the proposed legislation and vote against it.

That legislation calls for the requirement of parental notification and consent for a school to alter the name or pronouns of children under 15. It also will deny children aged 15 and under access to puberty blockers and hormone therapies for gender affirmation, among other changes.

For Croissant, Potter and a group who gathered on the boulevard outside Neudorf’s office on W.T. Hill Boulevard, the changes are unfair and could result in the self-inflicted deaths of vulnerable youth.

“Our aim today is to be persuasive, rather than confrontational. We want to persuade (Neudorf) to please use his influence in caucus to reverse this decision and if they decide to proceed with the proposed legislation for him specifically, as our MLA, to vote against it,” said Croissant.

“We’re not disruptive, we’re not blocking the streets, we’re not yelling and shouting, we’re not threatening to kill police officers – the government seems to listen to those people a lot. We’d rather be very invitational and say ‘come have a piece of pie with us’ and then we’ll tell our concerns,” Croissant added.

“It’s about making a public, intentional, explicit message of our support,” added Potter.

Ninety nine per cent of United churches will be in agreement with Southminster and McKillop and while the other United churches in the city haven’t gone through the formal affirming process they are supportive, said Croissant.

The ministers were surprised when the legislation was announced.

“There’s major problems in this province like healthcare, education, affordability, we’re facing the greatest drought since the Great Depression. It’s very distressing” that this issue is being brought forward, he said.

“This is a major issue of civil rights. To target some of the most vulnerable people in Alberta society, transgender youth, I really question about why this is the moment for that when there are so many huge issues,” added the reverend.

“We want to be constructive. If Mr. Neudorf phoned me tomorrow and said ‘how can you help with us with any of things?’ absolutely I’ll be there to help,” he added.

“We are trying to be helpful people within the society that we live. That’s our aim here.”

The proposed legislation “is very deeply distressing,” he added.

Those reasons include, firstly,“removing the social visibility of queer people – sending that message that being 2SLGBTQ is shameful, that it should be hidden.”

Removing the right of trans youth to life saving, gender-affirming and age-appropriate care, even if they have a supportive parent, is also wrong, he said.

“They say this is about parents rights. Even if a parent does say ‘yes, I do want to have medical care for my child to affirm their gender identity,’ that is being made illegal,” he added.

Croissant said the province is being guided “by truly extreme radicals in the construction of this legislation.” Removing “fundamental sex education” by making it an option, he said, “is a very radical thing for the government to do. They did not put forward anything of that nature during the election that that was what they were planning to do,” he added.

By compelling teachers to out pupils who identify with another gender identity is also problematic when that could be endangering to the pupils, he said, who could be in a household where such information could cost them their homes.

Potter added such policies have been shown to increase suicide rates for trans and queer youth.

Croissant said a survey conducted Canadian Medical Association journey indicated that 64 per cent of youth aged 14 to 25 have seriously considered suicide because of bullying at school, social isolation, discrimination in health care and lack of familial support.

Legislation that calls for teachers to out students, said Croissant, has them “deeply concerned that this will result in people dying.”

He told the crowd after “as Affirming churches of the United Church of Canada in solidarity with our Affirming communities of faith, we know that God loves all people,” adding that trans and queer youth should know “that they are loved, valued and affirmed exactly as God has made them to be.”

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