December 1, 2023 - 3:15pm

Canada has long prided itself as a bastion of LGBT rights, and over the last year it has been doubling down on its support for the transgender movement. 

In the year since Canada announced its Federal 2SLGBTQI+ Action Plan, the country has poured tens of millions of dollars into gay and transgender initiatives at home and abroad. This includes a government-funded marketing project aimed at increasing public support for the LGBT community, numerous research projects, disease prevention efforts and funding for LGBT entrepreneurs.

So far, the action plan’s achievements include an expansion of “unjust 2SLGBTQI+ offences” eligible for “expungement” — such as certain public indecency, nudity and obscenity offences. For example, Canada made convictions related to indecency in bathhouses eligible for expungement, noting that bathhouses are “safe spaces for the two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, and intersex (2SLGBTQI+) communities”. 

The Canadian government is also putting indigenous peoples at the heart of its LGBT activism. Across the government, the term “LGBTQ2” has been replaced with “2SLGBTQI” so that two-spirit people are recognised at the front of the acronym. The Federal 2SLGBTQI+ Action Plan has funded 17 organisations aiding indigenous LGBT populations and four organisations promoting indigenous LGBT voices as part of a broader push to support intersectional LGBT populations. One such programme received more than $500,000 to “[foster] connections between Indigenous and non-Indigenous organisations [and] create opportunities for 2SLGBTQQIA+ individuals to network, share ideas, compare work, and learn from each other in a way that respects their uniqueness.”

The plan also involves the Canadian government spending more than $10 million on LGBT causes globally, including raising awareness of such issues in various European and Asian countries and supporting the Sydney World Pride event in Australia. Here, Canada’s LGBT efforts tend to target the marginalised: indigenous people, migrants and the poor. 

There are at least 10 publicly funded Canadian hospitals which offer cross-sex medical interventions to minors, though the exact number is unclear. Canada, like the US, doesn’t have a legal age of consent for cross-sex medical interventions. Instead, doctors are responsible for determining whether a child should undergo these procedures, and they typically follow WPATH guidelines which explicitly endorse these procedures for minors. 

Moreover, Canadian doctors routinely prescribe puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones to minors. Since 2018, there have been 602 medical visits for gender reassignment mastectomies in Canada for patients under 18, including 300 who were under 17 and one 14-year-old, according to data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information. Hospitalisations and day surgery visits for gender-related mastectomies nearly doubled from fiscal year 2018-19 to 2022-23. The data excluded several hospitals and clinics which are considered industry leaders in gender-related mastectomies.

Canada has laws on the books that curtail free speech in the name of sensitivity towards transgender people, and it is considered a human rights violation to intentionally misgender someone. A Canadian man named Rob Hoogland was jailed in 2021 for publicly speaking out about a messy legal battle involving his child, who transitioned from female to male with the help of school staff without Hoogland’s knowledge or consent. A judge determined he could cause psychological harm to his child by publicly denying the child’s transgender identity. 

Meanwhile, Conservatives in the country have begun pushing back against the tide of trans activism, and have passed measures requiring parental consent for children under 16 to change their names and pronouns at school in New Brunswick and Saskatchewan, while a similar effort is underway in Ontario. 

Activists organised protests of trans content in schools in 77 Canadian cities in September, which were heavily attended by Christians, Muslims and immigrants. The events were met with massive counterprotests and a wave of articles expressing concern about Muslims affiliating with supposedly anti-LGBT contingents. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responded by condemning the protests as hateful.

Transgender ideology has come under scrutiny throughout the Western world, with several European countries and American states restricting child transitions and a growing pushback against the inclusion of males in female spaces under the auspices of trans inclusion. In Canada, however, where transgender activism is baked into the functions of the government and is increasingly viewed as part of the progressive country’s national identity, there’s no end in sight.


is UnHerd’s US correspondent.