Vancouver, CA – Three Antifa transgender rights activists were arrested following an attempt to disrupt a talk on “how transgender politics in school and society is undermining our freedom and harming women and children.” A fire alarm was pulled moments before a masked Antifa and transgender rights activist rose from a seat in the auditorium, ran screaming toward the exit and appeared to strike an audience member in the head.
— ThinGrayLine 🐻 (@ThinGrayLine01) June 24, 2019
The discussion, which was privately sponsored and open to the public, was called “The Erosion of Freedom: How Transgender Politics in School and Society is Undermining Our Freedom and Harming Women and Children.”
Jenn Smith, a 54-year-old man who identifies as transgender but acknowledges that he is male, has been on a speaking tour of the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island, and was a featured speaker on the June 22 discussion, which took place at the University of British Columbia.
In response to pressure from transgender activists, Douglas College and Trinity Western University canceled talks scheduled to be headlined by Mr Smith. Transgender activists rallied without success to get the UBC event canceled and the speaker deplatformed.
Transgender politician Morgane Oger met with a member of UBC President Santa Ono’s team in an attempt to persuade UBC to squash the event. Thwarted, he scolded UBC as “not living up to its institutional responsibility.” Mr Oger, who identifies as a woman, is notable for successfully fighting to get Vancouver Rape Relief (VRR), Canada’s oldest rape crisis center, stripped of funding after VRR refused to admit men who identify as women into its facility, which is designed to assist female rape survivors. The Association of Administrative Professional Staff at UBC (AAPS) denounced Mr Smith as a “bigot,” warning that his platform put the “well-being and safety of staff, faculty and students” at risk. Jonathan Turcotte-Summers of UBC Students Against Bigotry (UBCSAB), who describes himself in his Twitter bio as “Postmodern neo-Marxist. Snowflake and SJW. Traitor and parasite. Teacher and student. Pronouns: he/him,” also said Mr Smith’s criticism of SOGI (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity) 123 endangers LGBTQ people. UBCSAB slammed Mr Smith as a “far-right extremist.” Brad Dirks, a member of BC Families for Inclusivity, stated, “Trans rights are not up for debate.”
Mr Smith countered, “I am transgender and I do not promote hatred of myself or transgender people in general. The charge is absurd, offensive and dangerous to my person.”
SOGI 123 is marketed as a collection of policies, procedures and teaching resources, which, when combined with an “inclusive learning environment,” is expected to “make schools inclusive and safe for students of all sexual orientations and gender identities (SOGI).” However, Mr Smith has argued in his BC speaking tour that SOGI 123 harms children by confusing and upsetting them with the idea that it’s possible to transition to another sex. He also says SOGI 123 is a threat to women’s rights, parents’ rights and to the basic freedoms of all people.
“As a public academic institution, UBC … places a paramount value on the free and lawful expression of ideas and viewpoints,” Andrew Szeri, Provost and Vice-President Academic of UBC said in a statement confirming that the event would not be canceled. “Support for members of our own community, and work in education and research, can be regarded in balance with the institution’s commitment to freedom of expression.” Mr Szeri invited concerned parties to contact the police if the event constitutes hate speech.
On the day of the event, protesters assembled outside, blowing horns, chanting and waving rainbow and transgender flags. As Mr Smith spoke, a fire alarm suddenly blared out, and a masked Antifa activist rose from an auditorium seat and ran toward the exit while whirling a rainbow flag and screaming. Video footage shows the activist appearing to strike a random audience member in the head on the way out. Mr Smith shouted a request to law enforcement to detain the individual for the assault. The activist, screeching and crying, was brought to the floor outside the auditorium by police. Two other Antifa activists were also apprehended. The event and the protest outside continued despite the interruption.
UBCSAB expressed support for the three suspects. “While @University_RCMP [campus police] takes orders from those who violate human rights law, Students Against Bigotry stands in complete and unwavering solidarity with all who courageously oppose hate speech. We call on the RCMP to drop this ridiculous charge now!” The student advocacy group dismissed the accusation that an assault had taken place at the event as a “joke.”
Mr Smith believes he was the planned target of the attack, but finding him inaccessible due to the presence of Royal Canadian Mounted Police near him, the activist “flailed at the man at the back,” instead. “This is a pattern of harassment. When I did my Vancouver Island tour I had a group of apparently professional protesters following me from town to town causing disruptions.”
In May, Mr Smith’s event at Oak Bay was disrupted by mobs of protesters, who wreaked an hour and a half of chaos.
In an act of vengeance against UBC for giving Mr Smith a platform, the Vancouver Pride Society banned UBC from the Pride Parade. The move was praised by Mary Ann Saunders, a transgender UBC professor who identifies as a woman. “It seems like that kick in the pants that the administration needs,” Mr Saunders said. UBCSAB wrote mockingly, “@UBC would rather roll out the red carpet for people like this [Smith] than participate in the @vancouverpride parade.”
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