Anti-transgender and Anit-LGBTQ+ laws being passed in the US are having harmful effects on transgender youth who are watching all around the world. Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill and Texas’s bans on trans healthcare are doing considerably more then taking away the rights of the teenagers in those states. The effects are far more broad.
Multiple Canadian teens who spoke to 8forty said that the bills make them feel like all the progress that has been made is being washed away. Some feel less personally affected and that they are more worried for those in the United States.
Tori, a 17 year old transgender student in Burnaby says “Because of these bills, people adopt the mentality of being oppressive to those who are transgender, that mentality further spreads to their children and people they talk to.”
Tori says that the reactions of her classmates to the bills are concerning. “While working in the school library I often hear people talking about these bills and how they are good. They use slurs and say that they find LGBTQ+ people gross.”
“It’s obviously not something I want to hear while working on my projects.”
US and Canadian culture are very similar, the two countries have a very integrated history together and so American ideas tend to wash over the border. Knowing that the US has a strong influence in Canada can be quite unsettling for some Canadian teens.
“A lot of us already struggle to feel supported, knowing that people in power anywhere think these things and are actively trying to stop people like us from thriving really doesn’t help with that” said Alex, a 15 year old nonbinary student in the Burnaby school district.
Alex says that often, parents have a hard time accepting that their child is transgender. “I feel bad for all the trans kids in the states who just want to live their lives, there are very few family doctors on their side as it is, now the few on their side can’t help.”
Medical professionals who deal with children have taken to Twitter to share their opinions on the ban and its effects. “Put simply: these policies will kill, ” posted Harvard graduate and pediatrician Dr. Hadland. LGBTQ+ youth, especially trans and nonbinary youth, already have worse mental health then their heterosexual and cisgender counterparts.
“The latest data from the CDC suggest 26.3% of these LGBTQ youth might’ve attempted suicide in the 1st half of 2021.That’s 39,450 teens.” said Dr. Hadland on his account “And #DontSayGay could increase this by 10%, i.e., 3,945 teens attempting suicide that otherwise wouldn’t have.”
However the stories of transgender and nonbinary people are often overshadowed by politicians debating their own personal morals and professionals giving out statistics.
“We are real people.” said 16 year old Jaden who goes to school here in Burnaby, “We aren’t just stats but actual people, kids dying.”
While many transgender students in Canada are aware of the bills and concerned about the future of the country, not all teenagers feel as impacted.
“They personally don’t affect me, but I feel they represent more than meets the eye. It shows a regression of inclusivity,” said Cassidy who lives in Burnaby.
When asked if she feels safe in her day to day life Cassidy said “Yeah I do, I don’t think I would if I lived in the States though.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is adamant that what is happening in the United States will not happen here. “We must carry on the legacy of those who fought for justice by being bold and ambitious in our actions. And we must work diligently to close the gap between our principles and our reality,” stated Trudeau.
However, the actions of politicians in the United States are spreading what many consider to be a harmful ideology and making communities unsafe for LGBTQ+ people to live in both within and beyond their borders.
“They [politicians] need to stop making assumptions that are incorrect. Just things that are blatantly wrong and what they believe because of the way they’ve been raised,” concluded Cassidy.