Radical academics seek to shut down 'problematic' talk at the University of Winnipeg

Trans activists are attempting to shut down a University of Winnipeg speaking event about the "economic interests involved in transgenderism," claiming it is promoting harmful, hateful, and false information.

Mia Ashton Montreal QC

Trans activists are attempting to shut down a University of Winnipeg speaking event about the “economic interests involved in transgenderism,” claiming it is promoting harmful, hateful and false information, reports CityNews. 

University of Winnipeg (UofW) Professor Joanne Boucher is scheduled to give the talk titled, "The Commodification of the Human Body: The Case of Transgender Identities," on Friday, March 3, but local activists and some university staff are calling for the event to be cancelled, calling it "inappropriate and dangerous."

According to the event description, the talk will focus on the economic interests involved in transgenderism, and the role of government, corporate-funded lobby groups, the medical industry, and the biotechnology sector will be highlighted.

Jenn Rands, of Pride Winnipeg, says this is “problematic” and feels it is “deeply concerning that an event like this is being permitted to proceed at any post-secondary education institution.”

“It's entirely inappropriate and dangerous that transgender healthcare is being referred to as a commodity,” Rands told CityNews. “These treatments and procedures, they're not cosmetic, gender-affirming healthcare is medically necessary, and it's life-saving care for youth and adults.”

Rands is surprised that the university would have allowed such an event to be scheduled and says a review of how events are approved is in order to ensure other potentially harmful events are not planned in the future.

“It is absolutely unacceptable to look at transgender healthcare in this light. Period,” said Rands.

Boucher is a professor of political science at the university and was the Margaret Laurence Chair in Women’s Studies from 1997-1999. Her research interests include early modern political thought, feminist political thought and current theoretical and policy debate concerning pornography and new reproductive technologies.

Alyson Brickey, an assistant professor at UofW, believes the event goes against the values of the university and told CityNews some staff have raised concerns with administration.

“It’s really important in this kind of contemporary world where there is a lot of transphobia and violence against trans people to combat that wherever we can,” said Brickey.

“The University of Winnipeg prides itself on being an inclusive and respectful place,” she added. “I think many of us when we saw the advertisements for the talk had a feeling that it somewhat contradicted those values.”

Brickey made no comment about the importance of freedom of expression or the university’s stance on academic freedom and the value of open debate.

Other academics who want the event cancelled are staging a “trans love cupcake hour” and hosting a roundtable event aimed at supporting members of the transgender community.

“What we’re really interested in is not so much hosting a counter-event, but rather just creating a safe place for connection and community and to celebrate the queer and trans community, at the University of Winnipeg and beyond,” explained Brickey.

Activists have started a petition demanding that the event be cancelled, which argues that allowing the talk to go ahead would “undermine the commitment to a respectful and inclusive learning and working environment for staff, faculty, and students.”

“Members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community in Winnipeg have expressed concern that this talk has the potential to spread dangerous misinformation about Trans people and their experiences,” reads the petition started by Emma Joyal, a fourth-year student of English and Women and Gender Studies at UofW.

“We urge the university to cancel this talk out of respect for Trans and nonbinary students and allies. Failing to do so is an indication that the University of Winnipeg is complicit in perpetuating dangerous transphobic rhetoric.”

“Trans rights are human rights,” the petition concludes.

This latest attack on freedom of speech on a university campus in Canada comes just two months after trans activists succeeded in shutting down an event at McGill University in Montreal. In January, Dr. Robert Wintemute, a distinguished professor of human rights law at King’s College, London, was scheduled to give a talk titled, “The Sex vs Gender (Identity) Debate in the United Kingdom and the Divorce of the LGB from T."

An angry mob of trans activists stormed the venue and succeeded in getting the event cancelled.

Wintemute called the response to his talk “hysterical” in an interview with CBC at the time, and said that any discussion or criticism of the gender issue is seen as “hate speech.”


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