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Nearly half of Canadians support banning surgery and hormones for trans kids: exclusive poll

Nearly half of Canadians support banning surgery and hormones for trans kids exclusive poll

‘On the policies, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith’s not wildly off the mark with respect to where public opinion generally is starting from’

Nearly half of Canadians believe gender reassignment surgery for minors should be prohibited and support bans on hormone prescriptions for children, according to a new national survey of more than 2,000 Canadians.

The findings of the Postmedia-Leger poll come on the heels of Alberta Premier Danielle Smith’s announcement in late January instituting sweeping changes to transgender policies across the province. Smith unveiled new rules strengthening parental rights of consent for youth transitioning in schools, outright bans on top and bottom surgeries for minors and restrictions on how hormones can be prescribed to treat gender dysphoria.

“On the policies, she’s not wildly off the mark with respect to where public opinion generally is starting from,” said Andrew Enns, an executive vice-president at Leger.

Enns admitted that he was “a little bit surprised” by the findings given “the kind of reaction” that came when Premier Smith first tabled the legislation.

Roughly five in ten Canadians (45 per cent) support a blanket ban on gender reassignment surgery for minors, the most popular response in the category, while 11 per cent agreed that minors should be permitted to undergo gender reassignment surgeries “without the need for parental consent.” Meanwhile, nearly a third (30 per cent) found themselves somewhere in the middle, supportive of such medical interventions with parental consent.

Similar rates of opposition (42 per cent) were registered for puberty blockers and hormone therapies for children aged 15 and under, apart from those who have already begun the intervention. Slightly over a quarter (26 per cent) of Canadians felt that such medical interventions, when paired with parental consent, were appropriate. Only 11 per cent supported access to such care without any parental oversight.

“Making permanent and irreversible decisions regarding one’s biological sex while still a youth can severely limit that child’s choices in the future,” the United Conservative Party leader said in a video address when she announced the new rules. “Prematurely encouraging or enabling children to alter their very biology or natural growth, no matter how well-intentioned and sincere, poses a risk to that child’s future that I, as premier, I’m not comfortable with permitting in our province.”

According to the poll, many Canadians agree with the sentiment, with almost half (45 per cent) seeing such policies provoiding trans youth long-term benefits. Less than a quarter (24 per cent) see it “as an attack on transgender children.”

Notably, these positions were widely shared across Canadian provinces.

“One of the things that struck me is that there really wasn’t a lot of regional difference,” Enns said. “I noticed that in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta — where this debate has been more active, a bit more politically charged — there was a bit of heightened response compared to the rest of the country.”

Last year, Saskatchewan changed its provincial policy to require parental consent in a child’s change of personal pronouns at school. Shortly afterward, Manitoba’s then-premier Heather Stefanson vowed to implement a similar reform if re-elected in October, a vote she ultimately lost.

Despite some regional differences, Enns said the study revealed widespread overlapping agreement for most Canadians.

“I actually see where you could easily get public opinion shifted to a fairly comfortable majority in the public by tweaking a little bit of things, emphasizing parental consent, maybe backing off blanket prohibitions,” Enns said.

Another point of contention for Canadians is the role of the federal government intervening within provinces when it comes to gender-affirming care. While roughly a quarter (26 per cent) of respondents were uncertain about Ottawa’s role, equal shares (37 per cent) felt the government should and should not interject itself into provincial affairs.

Meanwhile, Canadians surveyed were more divided over the proper balance to strike when it came to parental consent in educational settings. Less than a quarter (24 per cent) believed guardians “need not be notified” when educators teach about “gender identity, sexual orientation, or human sexuality.” Nearly a third (32 per cent) said that parents “must” be notified and given the option to “opt into” such classes. Almost three in ten (27 per cent) of respondents fell in the middle, siding with the need to inform parents but not mandate opt-ins.

“I’ll state my bias,” Enns said, when asked about the diversity of opinion exhibited in the survey. “I’m a parent.”

“I find there is a general sense (that) if we involve the parents, we don’t have to get as extreme in terms of banning this or restricting that: just make sure parents are at the table,” he said. “There seems to be a general belief that then good things will work out for all involved, including the children.”

Smith’s new rules also mandate female-exclusive sports competitions.

Most Canadians (68 per cent) agree that transgender women should not be allowed to physically compete against biological women in sports or athletics. Just 17 per cent said they should be allowed to compete, while the rest said they do not know.

The Postmedia-Leger poll surveyed 2,439 adult Canadian residents, including 1,000 Albertans, through online surveys from Feb. 9 to Feb. 11. The respondents were randomly recruited through Leger’s online panel and results were weighted according to age, gender, mother tongue, region, education and presence of children in the household in order to ensure a representative sample of the population.

Traditional margins of error do not apply to online surveys, but a probability sample of the same size would have a margin of error of plus or minus 1.98 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

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Written by colinnew

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