Twenty-one Alberta teens have had double mastectomies since 2019: report

Since 2019, 21 Albertan teens have had their breasts removed amid steady demand for the procedure. A Freedom of Information (FOI) request by The Western Standard uncovered 520 breast removals during that period by women and teenage girls.

Twenty-one Alberta teens have had double mastectomies since 2019: report
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Since 2019, 21 Albertan teens have had their breasts removed amid steady demand for the procedure.

In January, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith made clear that gender reassignment should only be reserved for consenting adults. 

“Making permanent and irreversible decisions regarding one’s biological sex while still a youth can severely limit that child’s choices in the future,” said Smith. 

“Prematurely encouraging or enabling children to alter their very biology or natural growth … poses a risk to that child’s future that I, as premier, am not comfortable with permitting in our province.”

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request by The Western Standard uncovered 520 breast removals during the period by women and teenage girls. By year, Alberta Health performed 116 breast removals in 2019 (116), followed by 2020 (79), 2021 (102), 2022 (113), and 2023 (110).

The provincial health agency did not specify the reasons for each surgery as part of the FOI.

However, the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) confirmed last year that surgeons across Canada have performed hundreds of “gender-affirming” mastectomies on minors as young as 14.

According to data compiled for The National Post by the Institute, of the 4,071 visits involving double mastectomies or breast reductions reported over the past half-decade, 303 involved teens between the ages of 14 and 17, and 299 for those who are 18.

Among all ages, the number of double mastectomies has risen sharply since 2018, from 536 in 2018, to 985 in 2022.

According to CIHI, 76 of the 536 hospital visits for transgender reassignment mastectomies in 2018 involved 18-year-olds and younger (14%).

That age group accounted for 18% of visits for mastectomies (174 out of 991) in 2022 and 14% of visits (135 out of 985) in 2023.

The overall rise in gender reassignment surgeries reflects a dramatic increase in the number of minors who received a referral to specialized gender identity clinics across the country.

“The private clinics just kept churning them through,” a doctor familiar with “gender-affirming” care told The National Post anonymously. 

“The fact that you can’t get the numbers from private clinics. It’s very cloak-and-dagger,” they said. 

Another doctor familiar with gender reassignment surgeries anonymously told the publication that patients “regret [their decision] later on in life.”

“If we know that people can come to this realization that maybe this may not have been the best decision for them if that takes place after five years or 10 years, we don’t have all the information to allow patients to make an informed decision,” said the second doctor.

“What all this says to me is that we need to be much more thoughtful in our approach and our assessments.”

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