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Tegan and Sara use Junos speech to call out Alberta policies affecting trans youth

At the Juno Awards in Halifax on Sunday night, Calgary-raised pop duo Tegan and Sara received a standing ovation after speaking out against policies Alberta’s government is proposing that would affect transgender youth.

“If the world were not so hostile to 2SLGBTQ+ people, we would see ourselves purely as musicians,” Sara Quin told the crowd as she and her sister accepted the Juno Humanitarian Award for their work to advocate for LGBTQ2 people. “Advocating for our community’s rights is a great privilege, and we are dedicated to confronting any form of discrimination that threatens the well-being of our community.

“Like the Alberta government’s attempt to prevent trans youth from accessing vital care.”

Tegan and Sara accept the humanitarian award at the Juno awards, in Halifax on Sunday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

Tegan and Sara were presented with the award by actor Elliot Page.

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Page, the Oscar-nominated star of Juno, Inception and The Umbrella Academy, came out as transgender in 2020.

Elliot Page embraces Tegan and Sara as they accept the humanitarian award at the Juno awards, in Halifax on Sunday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

This winter, Premier Danielle Smith announced a new wide-ranging set of proposed policies via social media that would affect transgender youth in Alberta.

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She said her government plans to introduce policies requiring parents to be notified or to provide consent for their children who want to change their names or pronouns at school.

She also said Alberta plans to bring in restrictions related to hormone therapy and surgery for transgender youth as well as new rules governing who transgender athletes can compete with in sporting events.

Smith also announced her government will aim to ensure there are more doctors in Alberta with expertise in gender-affirming procedures and the care needed for people who have those procedures.

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On Sunday, Global News reached out to Smith’s office to ask for a statement in response to Tegan and Sara’s speech at the Juno Awards.

“The government is introducing these policies across several ministries to preserve the choices children and youth have before potentially making life-altering and often irreversible adult decisions,” Sam Blackett, the premier’s press secretary, wrote in an email. “To reaffirm our support for the transgender community, we are also providing additional supports to assist transgender adults to secure the health care they need like bringing medical professionals who specialize in transgender care to Alberta.

“We’re also developing a private registry of medical professionals who specialize in this field to make it easier for transgender Albertans to access needed medical treatment and care. Additionally, we’re developing a counselling pilot project to help youth identifying as transgender and their families work through often difficult and complex issues and discussions.”

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Tegan and Sara are identical twin sisters, who were born and raised in Calgary.

On Sunday night, Tegan Quin described some of the recent policies proposed in some Canadian provinces as a “movement against trans youth.”

“We shouldn’t be complacent,” she said.

“We should step up. … I also think we have a voice to remind our government we should be focused on more important things like climate change, the fentanyl crisis, the housing crisis.”

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— with files from The Canadian Press

Click to play video: '‘I hope it doesn’t come to that’: Premier Smith on notwithstanding clause option for new trans policies'

‘I hope it doesn’t come to that’: Premier Smith on notwithstanding clause option for new trans policies

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