Alberta doctor says province’s new policies contributed to suicide of transgender nephew

By CityNews Staff

Editor’s note: This story contains discussion of suicide. Those struggling with their mental health should call Canada’s mental health help line at 988, or the Kids’ Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868, for support.

An Alberta family is asking for a sit-down with Premier Danielle Smith after claiming her proposed transgender policies led to the death of their loved one.

Dr. David Keegan, a professor at the Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary, wants to meet with the premier in hopes she will change course on recent controversial policies impacting trans people.

“This is not the kind of way our province should be,” he told CityNews.

The doctor says earlier this month, he was told news no one should have to hear.

“Two police officers from the Calgary Police Service arrived at my home and asked to speak to me and told me that my nephew — my trans nephew who lives in Edmonton — had died,” Keegan recalled. “They gave me the info to contact the Edmonton Police Service directly to learn more, and that’s when I learned he’d died by suicide.”

He says the rise of anti-trans hate had made his 37-year-old nephew feel scared and isolated, and claims hateful comments and discourse generated following the introduction of policies in February pushed him over the edge.

WATCH: Premier Smith defends against criticism of Alberta’s new gender identity polices

“The policy announcement by Danielle Smith was a piece of — not the only thing — but a clear contributor to his decision,” Keegan said.

Keegan said he and other advocates have warned the new transgender policies would lead to death.

“This shouldn’t have happened, it was chosen,” he said. “She knew this would happen.”

Earlier this month, Smith announced new rules on transgender and gender identity in Alberta, including directions around naming, sexual education, transgender athletes in women’s sports, and gender-affirming care.

If passed, Alberta will require parental consent for students 15 and under who want to change their names or pronouns at school. Students 16 and 17 years old won’t need consent, but their parents will have to be notified.

Parents must also opt-in for their kids to participate in each class that teaches about sex education, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Current laws allow parents to opt-out of such education.


Gender reassignment surgery will also be banned for those 17 and under, the premier said, and minors won’t have access to puberty blockers and hormone therapies for gender reassignment or gender affirmation.

For transgender adults, Smith says her government is putting together a private registry of doctors and medical professionals who specialize in transgender surgery, which she says will better support the lifelong health care needs of transgender Albertans, including access to needed hormones and surgery aftercare.

Keegan says this is about basic human rights.

“I think people get really up in arms about compassionate stuff, but compassion is real,” Keegan said. “Every single person in Alberta deserves to live. Every single person in Alberta deserves to be here. Every single person deserves their medical conversations to be with their physicians and to be private and to be without the intrusion of politics.”

In a statement to CityNews, the premier’s office wouldn’t say if Smith would meet with Keegan to hear his concerns about the policies.

“Sudden loss of a family member is devastating and tragic for families, friends, and loved ones,” Smith’s office said in an email. “Mental health is a very serious issue and if you’re struggling please know that support is available to you no matter where you live in the province, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For those who need support, call or text 2-1-1 or call the Mental Health Help Line at 1-877-303-2642 for support, information and referrals to services. The Kids Help Phone can also be reached at 1-800-668-6868.”

Top Stories

Top Stories

Most Watched Today