Gender critical feminist Meghan Murphy is being held responsible for the effects of the threats against her. CUPE Local 391, representing workers at the Vancouver Public Library, wants the library to shut down Murphy’s upcoming March 21 talk. They are concerned about the impact that the threats against Murphy and the controversy surrounding gender-critical ideas has had on library workers.
Trans activists have previously asked for Murphy’s series of #GIDYVR talks to be denied public meeting space, and they protest her everywhere she speaks. They have threatened Murphy, the VPL, and library staff. The library has not folded to these demands. But for some reason the union wants to punish the women that have been threatened, instead of those who advocate for violence against women.
It would be normal to blame the trans activists who have made the threats—but in lieu of that, they are blaming the women who have been threatened. Murphy wants to meet peacefully to discuss gender identity, as she has done countless times before. She neither courts nor advocates for violence. The union’s reasoning is that the protests put an undue burden on library employees.
In a public statement, a response to VPL’s upcoming room rental to Murphy for a March 21 talk, CUPE Local 391 states:
“The stress put on workers before, during, and after this event, has the potential for long-term damage that cannot be ignored or dismissed. Members have expressed, to the union and to management, symptoms of anxiety, fear, anger, and depression in both their professional and personal lives. These experiences raise health and safety concerns from the union for those members directly affected as well as those working alongside their struggling colleagues. The impact is also felt by the many members who have had to navigate highly emotional conversations with colleagues and the public due to the very public discussion surrounding this issue. Library patrons and community members have directly targeted our members on social media while engaging in the debate about the decision to allow the room rental. Members in the unit responsible for library communications and social media have likewise been exposed to threatening and violent language.”
In short, because #GIDYVR events draw protests, the union wants to cave to the threats of activists and deny women their right to gather peacefully. Instead of condemning those who would deny Murphy her right to rent public space, the union condemns Murphy. The woman who is persistently threatened with violence is now being blamed for those very threats.
Murphy is no stranger to attempted deplatforming. She has held events at the Vancouver Public Library before, and has been protested for it. The library was disinvited from marching in Vancouver’s Pride Parade because they have allowed her group to rent space. When Murphy speaks on panels, or at gender critical events, she is flanked by bodyguards due to persistent threats of violence against her. Murphy did not ask for this fight but she has taken it up because the alternative is the erasure of women. If our greatest institutions cannot stand up for our rights to speak freely, all hope of justice and discourse is lost. The union would rather allow the silencing of women than address the violent threats of the trans advocates.
Murphy responded on Instagram: “—the library staff union—has released an appalling statement, framing out #GIDYVR events as, essentially, a health and safety risk to workers. While indeed trans activists have threatened violence, it is not the event itself, which is a discussion of women’s rights, that is the risk. The union is pressuring the Vancouver Public Library to cancel our next event, Gidyvr Women’s spaces & Places, on account of ‘stress’ caused to union members on account of the harassment, verbal abuse, and threats they receive from trans activists. WOMEN are being blamed for threats, abuse and harassment from others, many of whom are male. We are being held accountable for the harassment, violence, and threats WE receive from abusive authoritarians. A fucking LABOUR UNION is attempting to silence feminist speech and public debate about a subject that impacts all of us because a group of fascists don’t want women to speak in their own defense. It is incredibly inappropriate, to start, for the union to speak on behalf of their members in this way, considering there are, as the VPL and CUPE are aware, numerous people on staff and in the union who support out events and right to speak. Moreover, it is unacceptable to attempt to punish and silence us for exercising our right to free expression and for standing up for women’s rights. PUSH BACK.”
The Post Millennial reached out to Murphy to find out why she thought the union would make such an appalling statement in opposition to women’s rights to freely gather. “There are a lot of people with positions of power in unions across Canada who have taken a hard stand in favour of gender identity ideology/legislation and have refused to listen to dissenters from within or without the union,” Murphy said. “The BC Federation of Labour blacklisted Vancouver Rape Relief in 2016, for example, and numerous union execs have publicly vilified and libelled me. Unions in Canada are all very connected to the NDP, as well and of course, as the NDP is essentially Canada’s Labour Party. And the NDP and fully adopted a position in favour of gender identity legislation that cannot be challenged. They have lost members and votes because of this, but continue not to listen to those of us who have long supported the party but who also have concerns about gender identity ideology and the impact on women.”
The pressure from trans activists can be fierce and uncompromising. The CUPE may think that their virtue signaling on this will lead to a diminishing of trans activist anger, but, as Murphy points out, this “will not free them from the bullying of trans activists, who apparently will accept nothing less than full capitulation.” Murphy has reason to believe that “there are people on staff/in the union who support or events and have even attended our events. So they published this statement despite knowing all union members are not on board with what they are saying.”
A labour union, an organization that has the sole purpose of upholding rights, seeks to deny the rights of others. In the face of injustice, and advocacy for the denial of women’s rights to speak, the union is caving to threats. While it is couched in concern for their members, the effect is the same as letting mob rule decide who gets access to public space and who does not. It’s shameful that the union wrote this statement, that it was approved and released. It’s unacceptable to cow to threats of violence simply because it’s the less difficult option, and it’s doubly unacceptable to blame women for those threats levelled against them.
A labour union should know this.