This is from the CBC (click to read), and reports how a spate of activists shut down a scheduled talk at McGill University by alumnus Robert Wintemute, a professor of human rights law at King’s College London.
Now Wintemute may bot be someone whose views I’d want to endorse wholeheartedly, as I don’t know anything about the LGB Alliance. Some of the readers below have commented that I’m wrong to characterize the LGB Alliance’s take on “conversion therapy” in the way I understood conversion therapy. Here’s what the CBC says
Wintemute’s work inspired the foundation of the LGB Alliance, a British group that advocates against transgender rights in the United Kingdom. Several British officials and LGBTQ+ groups have publicly called the LGB Alliance a hate group.
The group has opposed progressive gender affirmation bills in the U.K., like the Scottish Gender Recognition Act, which improves the system by which transgender people can apply for legal recognition.
A Canadian chapter of the LGB Alliance lobbied against Bill C-4, which put an end to conversion therapy, demanding it remove the term “gender identity” from the offence.
I’m against conversion therapy if it’s construed as therapy with a predetermined therapeutic outcome that doesn’t really want to explore the patient’s feelings. But again, I don’t know much about the LGB Alliance’s views on this issue. On the other hand, they do assert that “sex is binary” and “sex is observed at birth” (indeed, it’s not a subjective judgment made by doctors), so I’m on board with at least some of Wintemute’s organization’s views. But I’m not passing judgement on Wintermute’s organization here, for this post is about freedom of speech, which the man didn’t get.
And Wintemute should hve freedom of speech (at least in the US, and I hope in Canada), and his talk, described with the title “Sex vs Gender (Identity)”, was worthy of being held and being heard (see more about it below). Presumably it was about whether there’s a disparity between rights based on biological sex and rights based on declared gender: surely an issue worth debating.
Or so you would think. But it’s not worth debating to those trans activists who declare that “trans women are women” and “trans men are men”, completely conflating gender identity and biological sex. There is no room for dissent or discussion with people like that, and so the activists simply shut down Wintemute’s talk:
Trans rights advocates stormed into a talk Tuesday afternoon at McGill University led by a speaker associated with a group they say is “notoriously transphobic and trans-exclusionary.”
The talk was ultimately cancelled shortly after it started.
McGill University’s Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism (CHRLP) hosted the event, titled Sex vs. Gender (Identity) Debate In the United Kingdom and the Divorce of LGB from T. It was led by McGill alumnus Robert Wintemute.
The CHRLP’s website describes the event as a conversation around whether the law should make it easier for a transgender person to change their legal sex, “and about exceptional situations, such as women-only spaces and sports, in which the individual’s birth sex should take priority over their gender identity, regardless of their legal sex.”
Regardless of whether you agree with Wintemute, is that not a conversation worth having? Apparently the activists who shut it down think that such debate is counterproductive. But how will they ever convince their opponents if their opponents don’t at least get to air their views? For it is surely correct to say that some “rights” claimed by transsexual or transgender people are indeed at odds with “rights” claimed by others, others like biological women athletes and women receiving rape counseling.
In response to that, a letter signed by McGill people simply deny it:
An open letter signed by McGill students, professors, alumni and others from the Montreal LGBTQ+ community says trans rights are not at odds with the rights of others.
“Undermining the human rights of trans people does not benefit any member of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, nor the feminist movement,” it says.
The whole question of “rights” is a sticky one, but to assert that “trans rights are not at odds with the rights of others” simply misses the reason for a lot of pushback against trans activism by people who aren’t transphobic. (“Transphobic” is a slur often used to shut down debate by stigmatizing your opponents.)
To end, I’ll quote with permission reader Diana MacPherson, who sent me the link to this report (h/t Paul as well), and added this comment:
I really hate that the adults won’t stop this refusal to debate anything. This all would go away if everyone stood up and said “enough, free discussion of ideas is not something you shut down”.