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Pride

400 Artists Team with Tegan and Sara Foundation for an Open Letter Against Anti-Trans Legislation in Canada

Neil Young, Alanis Morissette, Sarah McLachlan, Elliot Page, Anne Murray and many more have signed the open letter to "stand against...alarming and destructive [anti-trans] policies" in Alberta, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan and elsewhere in Canada.

Tegan and Sara

Tegan and Sara

Eluvier Acosta

Canadian artists are speaking out against anti-trans legislation.

The Tegan and Sara Foundation has published an open letter signed by some of Canada's best known musicians and entertainers, including Neil Young, Alanis Morissette, Elliot Page, k.d. lang, Sarah McLachlan, Carly Rae Jepsen and many more. The letter, titled Artists Against Anti-Trans Legislation in Canada, has over 400 signatories. Its publication date, Mar. 31, is also Trans Day of Visibility.


Led by indie pop siblings Tegan and Sara Quin, the open letter is an explicit pushback on recent and in-progress legislation that limits trans rights in several Canadian provinces.

"We are trending towards more harmful anti-trans legislation in Canada, and we call on our communities and local and national policymakers to put a stop to this concerning surge in anti-trans policy," the letter states.

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Saskatchewan and New Brunswick have both implemented policies that require parental consent for educators to use chosen names and preferred pronouns for students under sixteen. In February, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith announced plans for policy changes to LGBTQ+ health care, education and sports, including banning hormonal treatment and puberty blockers for trans youth. Smith's policies would also require parental consent for students to participate in educational instruction that addresses sexual orientation and gender identity.

At the national level, Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre has made recent comments indicating he would support banning trans women from women's sports and washrooms. With a federal election on the horizon, LGBTQ+ rights could face rollbacks across the country.

"Far right groups are tapping into fear and pitting us against each other so they can create a Canada where we’re afraid of difference," reads the letter. "The government should never put themselves between parents, their kids, and evidence-based healthcare and supports."

While the letter is primarily written to affect change within the country, it also combats the perception of Canada as a human rights haven. "The reality is that Canada is not immune to the global attack on the trans community and their access to inclusive spaces, healthcare and freedoms."

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The letter follows Tegan and Sara's speech at the Junos in March, where they received the humanitarian award for their work with the Tegan and Sara Foundation. During their speech, the sibling duo specifically referenced the Alberta government's anti-LGBTQ policies.

"We are dedicated to confronting any form of discrimination that threatens the well-being of our community," said Sara Quin. “Like the Alberta government’s attempt to prevent trans youth from accessing vital care.”

Tegan and Sara may be primarily known for their work as Grammy-nominated musicians — as well as best-selling writers, TV show producers, and queer icons — but they describe the Tegan and Sara Foundation as their "crowning achievement." Launched in 2016, the foundation raises funds for grassroots 2SLGBTQ+ organizations and advocates for equality.

The letter's supporters include many more LGBTQ+ Canadian artists, like comedian Mae Martin, songwriter Safia Nolin, multi-media artist and musician Vivek Shraya and writer Billy-Ray Belcourt. Other musicians signed on include LU KALA, TOBi, Coeur de Pirate, Diana Krall, Sarah Harmer and Feist.

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The letter was prepared by the Tegan and Sara Foundation Board of Directors with Fae Johnstone of Momentum, a new advocacy organization working to protect LGBTQ+ rights in Canada.

Read the letter in full below, and find all the signatories here.

We all deserve the freedom to be ourselves, to be safe and treated with dignity. 2SLGBTQIA+ people are our friends, family, neighbours and coworkers. But far right groups are tapping into fear and pitting us against each other so they can create a Canada where we’re afraid of difference. Right now, they’re using trans people as their punching bag, but the truth is that this community is their convenient scapegoat. Their agenda is the same it’s always been: for people in power to retain that power at the expense of the most marginalized among us.

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For those outside of Canada, the country is often seen as a human rights haven. However, the reality is that Canada is not immune to the global attack on the trans community and their access to inclusive spaces, healthcare and freedoms. In Alberta, premier Danielle Smith has targeted transgender youth with proposed bans on hormonal treatment, puberty blockers and gender-confirmation surgery. Months before, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan announced that they will require parental consent before schools can honour the chosen names and pronouns of gender-diverse children under 16.

Everyone deserves access to crucial healthcare services that affirm them. Anyone holding a historically-excluded identity knows what it’s like to be treated differently because of who they are. The anti-trans policies taking root in Canada go beyond discrimination - they present a clear risk to the mental and physical well-being of trans individuals throughout the country.

As artists, we know the danger of a social and political environment that restricts expression, exploration, individuality and self-determination. We want to keep living in a world that celebrates the beauty of difference, because difference and art go hand in hand. We also believe in the power of using our voices for those who aren’t being heard.

We, the undersigned artists from Canada, stand against these alarming and destructive policies, and call on the general public to turn their attention to a growing problem in our country. The government should never put themselves between parents, their kids, and evidence-based healthcare and supports. We are trending towards more harmful anti-trans legislation in Canada, and we call on our communities and local and national policymakers to put a stop to this concerning surge in anti-trans policy.

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AP Dhillon smashing his guitar at Coachella
Instagram/Coachella

AP Dhillon smashing his guitar at Coachella

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AP Dhillon Drops Off Coachella's Second Weekend

The Punjabi-Canadian star has faced backlash in Indian media and on social media for his guitar smash on weekend one, but the festival says he's cancelling due to scheduling conflicts.

AP Dhillon is leaving the California desert behind. Coachella announced that the Punjabi-Canadian star will not appear at the festival's second weekend as planned, citing scheduling conflicts. The festival announced it in a follow up tweet to one announcing that rapper Kid Cudi has been added.

While Dhillon's first-weekend performance was well-received by the Coachella crowd and many of his supporters, he's also had some backlash due to how he closed his set, which has been widely covered by media in India.

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