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400 Canadian artists denounce anti-trans policies

400 Canadian artists denounce anti-trans policies

More than 400 Canadian artists from the worlds of music, film and literature denounced what they call Canada's “troubling and devastating” anti-transgender legislation in an open letter published Sunday by pop duo Tegan and Sarah.

Signatories include actor Elliot Page, Great Big Sea singer Alan Doyle, actress Elisha Cuthbert, folk and rock legend Neil Young, recent Grammy winner Allison Russell, and Louis & Bram, from the former children's trio Sharon, Louis & Bram.

“The anti-trans policies taking root in Canada go beyond discrimination: they pose a clear risk to the mental and physical health of transgender people across the country,” the letter said.

The letter denounces policies proposed by Alberta Premier Danielle Smith regarding assigned pronouns for gender-diverse children in schools, as well as new guidelines for hormone therapy and gender-affirming care.

She also says similar school pronoun policies in New Brunswick and Saskatchewan are examples of discriminatory laws targeting transgender youth.

Tegan and Sarah received the Humanitarian Award at the Juno Awards last week. On the red carpet, the sisters expressed their concerns about government policies targeting transgender youth.

“We are currently seeing a wave of anti-trans laws across Canada and the United States,” Sarah Quinn said on March 24, moments before the awards ceremony.

“So we view our work as being proactive to make sure people understand that this is happening now.”

Tegan Quinn said she would “encourage all governments and all adults who are obsessed with these things to focus on more urgent things,” listing climate change, the housing crisis and the sharp rise in opioid-related deaths.

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The artists who signed the letter, including singer Anne Murray, director Deepa Mehta and author Michael Cromie, say they oppose these “disturbing and destructive policies” and are calling on all levels of government to end them.

Other signatories to the letter include Lisa LeBlanc, Alexandra Strelski, the Karkoa Group, and Beatrice Martin, also known as Cœur de Pirate. Award-winning singer-songwriter Juno Isanabe, comedian Colin Mochrie, and music groups Feist, Tokyo Police Club, Metric and The Beaches also signed the open letter.

The release coincides with International Transgender Visibility Day, which aims to raise awareness of the discrimination faced by the transgender community.

Tegan and Sarah were honored at the Juno Awards last week for their work with LGBTQ+ youth. The award was presented to them by Halifax-born actor Elliot Page.

“We are at a time in history where the rights of 2SLGBTQ+ people are being revoked, restricted and removed around the world, and these effects are devastating,” Elliot Page said, before presenting the award to the duo.