Danielle Smith cites proven false video in defending trans women sports policy

Premier cites viral video of cis rugby player as example of trans women in sports

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith is facing fresh allegations of spreading misinformation after she wrongly identified a rugby player as transgender when explaining her rationale for restricting trans women from playing sports alongside cis women—part of a slate of anti-trans policies expected to be introduced this fall.

The comments came during a Monday press conference in Ottawa. The video Smith cited shows Papua New Guinea rugby star Joanne Lagona, a cis woman, overtaking an opponent. It’s gone viral online recently along with the false narrative that she is trans.

A spokesman from Smith’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the statements made during the press conference. The legislation planned for this fall was announced Jan. 31 and stands to be the harshest in Canada yet when it comes to trans youth and athletes, going much further than school pronoun policies introduced last year in Saskatchewan and New Brunswick.

Among other things, Smith has promised to ban gender-affirming surgery for anyone under 18 along with banning puberty blockers and hormone replacement therapy for anyone under 15. The announced policies extend to schools as well: for students who wish to change their pronouns or names at school, parental notification and consent will be required for students 15 and under, and parental notification will be required for students aged 16 or 17. Parental consent will also be required for sex education or any kind of education on sexuality or gender, with third-party education resources requiring approval by the Alberta Ministry of Education.

The proposal has been condemned by a growing list of LGBTQ2S+ organizations and allies ranging from political officials to medical organizations. Among the criticisms is that the policies are stigmatizing and do not reflect the best practices and standards of healthcare for trans youth. 

Lito Howse (they/them) is a queer and trans/non-binary identified videographer, editor and producer based in Toronto. They previously worked for the CBC where they wrote TV stories, edited and control room produced for News Network. They also produced videos for CBC Radio and wrote web articles for shows like The Current and As It Happens, among other roles. They speak English.

Senior editor Mel Woods is an English-speaking Vancouver-based writer and audio producer and a former associate editor with HuffPost Canada. A proud prairie queer and ranch dressing expert, their work has also appeared in Vice, Slate, the Tyee, the CBC, the Globe and Mail and the Walrus.

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