The first openly transgender person to run for the federal Conservatives warns that a policy adopted by the party over the weekend could harm gender-diverse children if it ever becomes law.
However, Hannah Hodson said she feels it's unlikely the contentious policy would be a top priority for the Conservatives if the party is voted into power.
"If these policies (are) passed, people are going to die, children are going to die in this country without access to any gender-affirming care," said Hodson, who ran for the party in the 2021 federal election in Victoria, B.C.
Party delegates voted in favour of a future Conservative government prohibiting "medicinal or surgical interventions" for gender-diverse and transgender children on Saturday. The vote came during a three-day policy convention in Quebec City.
The proposal, which passed with assent from 69 per cent of the voting members, came from a riding in British Columbia.
However, like past leaders, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre has said he is not bound to include the policies adopted at party policy conventions into an eventual election platform.
After the proposal that any future Conservative government prohibit "life-altering medicinal or surgical interventions" for those under 18 was accepted, Hodson posted online about the betrayal she felt.
"To all the (Conservative Party of Canada) people who have told me they love me, support me, and would fight for me, and who are now telling me to calm down and just go along with this," she wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.
"I see you and I will not forget."
The vote comes as the issue of children and gender identity is gaining traction among Conservatives in both Canada and the United States.
Hodson said Canadian politics is beginning to resemble the American playbook.
"There's a long and storied history of political actors using vulnerable minorities in order to early on achieve power, raise money," she said in an interview. "It is like, 'Hey look over there, not over here at this other serious problem, that we're not fixing.'"
Hodson said she began distancing herself from the Conservative party after last year's "Freedom Convoy" protests in Ottawa, where she and her friends were subjected to harassment.
She finally withdrew her membership when New Brunswick instituted a policy in June requiring students under 16 who are questioning their gender identity to get their parents' consent before teachers can use their preferred first names or pronouns at school.
"Pierre Poilievre gave it tacit approval," Hodson said. "That really just was the last straw."
Poilievre was asked about the province's decision earlier this summer, and he suggested Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should stay out of the issue, saying he believes the matter is one for the province and parents to decide.
His office has not yet responded to a request for comment since Saturday's vote.
Saskatchewan has also ushered in changes requiring schools to seek parental consent if a child under 16 wants to be referred to by a different name or pronoun.
Over the weekend, delegates at the Conservative convention voted on a suite of amendments to the party's policy handbook, ranging in issues from foreign affairs to the environment and health.
They also passed a motion to amend Conservative policy to say the party believes women should have access to "single-sex spaces" in areas like prisons, bathrooms and sports. That motion passed with 90 per cent of delegates' votes.
Helen Kennedy, executive director of the LGBTQ advocacy group Egale Canada, said the wording specifically targets transgender people.
"Trans women are women, and trans women have a right to use women's bathroom," she said. "There's no debate about that."
She said the next federal election will likely come as housing costs soar, health-care systems fail and life becomes increasingly unaffordable.
"But we're having an election over trans rights," she said. "When we just want to be left alone."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 11, 2023.
Ritika Dubey, The Canadian Press