Poilievre says 'biological males' should be banned from women's sports, change rooms and bathrooms

Conservative leader says federal jurisdiction may limit what he can do to limit trans women's access

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre stepped into the debate over trans rights on Wednesday, saying "biological males" should be banned from women's sports, change rooms and bathrooms.

"Female spaces should be exclusively for females, not for biological males," Poilievre said in Kitchener, Ont.

The Conservative leader made the comments after being asked if, as prime minister, he would introduce legislation to prevent "transgender women" or "biological men" from participating in female sports or entering female prisons and shelters.

"A lot of the spaces … are provincially and municipally controlled, so it is unclear ... what reach federal legislation would have to change them," Poilievre said.

"But obviously female sports, female change rooms, female bathrooms should be for females, not for biological males," he added

Last month, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith unveiled a slate of controversial legislative changes, expected to be tabled in the fall, that will significantly alter the province's student gender identity, sports and surgery policies.

Those changes include a pledge to forbid transgender women in Alberta from competing in women's sports leagues. Smith did say, however, that her government will work with sports leagues in the province to set up co-ed or gender-neutral divisions for sports.

Advocates have said the terms "biological males" and "biological females" are problematic because they deny the identities of transgender and non-binary people.

Puberty blockers

Smith said that her government's policies will also prohibit hormonal treatment, puberty blockers and gender-affirming surgery for children 15 years and younger.

Poilievre said earlier this month that he does not support trans kids taking puberty blockers — medicines that are used to pause puberty before a possible gender transition or other interventions, like hormone therapy.

When questioned about Smith's changes in the foyer of the House of Commons, Poilievre said the decision to pursue transgender treatments should be reserved for adults alone.

"Puberty blockers for minors? I think we should protect children and their ability to make adult decisions when they're adults," he said.

Asked to state definitively if he was opposed to puberty blockers for people under the age of 18, Poilievre said he was.

Smith said her proposed changes mean top and bottom gender reassignment surgeries will be banned for minors aged 17 and under (though bottom surgery is already limited to adults) and teens aged 16 and 17 will only be able to start hormone therapy with permission from their parents, a physician and a psychologist.

Smith's sweeping changes will also require students aged 15 and under to get permission from their parents before they can use a name or pronoun at school other than the one they were given at birth.

Trudeau says Poilievre is 'picking a fight with trans kids'

This pronoun policy follows similar moves by New Brunswick and Saskatchewan.

New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs's changes to Policy 713 require school staff to get the consent of parents before letting LGBTQ students under age 16 use the names and pronouns they choose in classrooms.

In October, Saskatchewan passed legislation requiring schools to seek parental consent if a student wants to use a different pronoun or name.

The province used the notwithstanding clause to enact the legislation, but a federal judge ruled earlier this month that the legislation can still be challenged in court despite the use of the clause.

In the wake of those and Smith's policies, Poilievre had said that he would "let parents raise kids and provinces run schools and hospitals. That's my common-sense approach."

Last fall, 69 per cent of delegates to the Conservative Party's policy convention voted in favour of a motion that said those under the age of 18 should be prohibited from accessing "life-altering medicinal or surgical interventions" to treat "gender confusion and dysphoria."

Trudeau responded to Poilievre's remarks later Wednesday, telling reporters in Edmonton that Poilievre would "rather pick a fight with trans kids" than deal with the real problems facing Canadians.

"I think Mr. Poilievre and politicians like him are choosing to attack some of the most vulnerable people in our society as a way of deflecting from the fact that they are very good at creating division and anger," Trudeau said Wednesday. "But so far they have been terrible at putting forth any concrete solutions for the big problems that all Canadians are facing in their daily lives."

The prime minister said Poilievre has no policy solutions for issues such as housing, climate change and child care.