"No nations, no borders, stop deportation!"
These were some of the first chants that I encountered from protestors when attending the Meghan Murphy event at the Vancouver Public Library Thursday evening. Which was odd, because the talk wasn’t about immigration or borders, at it’s core the event was on “Gender Identity Ideology and Women’s Rights”
Some of the other chants were more on target.
"Trans women are women!" shouted a few protestors in unison.
"No TERFS, no KKK, no fascists here today!".
One attendee described the chanting as a “laundry-list of demands”, a common tactic employed by protestors who seem to conflate every problem under the sun as "intersectional".
The event, which faced a lot of controversy since it's conception including attempts to have it shut down, headlined Meghan Murphy the founder of Feminist Current. Meghan has made headlines as of late after being de-platformed from Twitter for her views on transgenderism and women's rights.
Alongside Murphy were Lee Lakeman, a longtime feminist activist involved with the Vancouver Rape Relief and Women's Shelter, and special guest Fay Blaney, an indigenous educator and activist involved with the Aboriginal Women's Action Network.
A majority of the audience in support of free speech
While waiting in line for the event, attendees lined up alongside the library either observing or trying to ignore the usual parade of banners, multi-colored flags and masked wannabe vigilantes.
Most of those standing in line were either watching on at the protests with bewildered amusement or trying to ignore the ruckus going on around them.
Several security guards and police officers were standing by and blocking access to the doors as things were being organized inside.
Overall, besides the usual far-left antics, everything was rather mundane and people proceeded on inside in an orderly fashion.
Once inside, the room was filled to capacity, and at least over 300 people were in attendance. A majority of the audience was there in support of the speakers and their views. While a small vocal minority was scattered throughout the seats.
Among the recognizable faces in the crowd were Lindsay Shepherd, Morgane Oger and anti-SOGI activist Jenn Smith, who also writes for The Post Millennial.
Meghan Murphy focused largely on the necessity for women's only spaces
Meghan’s talk largely centered on the issue of women’s spaces and how feminists fought long and hard to guarantee their own rights in the face of opposition.
A lot of criticism was launched by Meghan towards the mayor of Vancouver and senior library administrators who were accused of picking sides and not acting stately in what was a matter of civic rights. Although they eventually stood by hosting the event, the Vancouver Public Library openly stated that they don’t support Meghan’s views on women’s rights and even pushed the event’s time ahead by several hours to 9:30 PM on a weekday.
"I do want to remind everyone that a primary purpose and core value of libraries is access. The universal mission of libraries is to provide equitable access to information and to facilitate and protect the right to freely pursue knowledge. And yet our public library made intentional choices to attempt to limit access to this event," said Meghan Murphy
Among the things she brought up during her speech were the biological differences between the male and female sex in sports and the unfair advantage male-to-female trans people acquire in athletics.
Another issue touched upon was the necessity for vulnerable women to have access to women-only crisis centers and halfway houses where men aren't present.
"It is not illegal to understand that male and female bodies are different." said Murphy.
"It's not illegal in Canada for lesbians to limit their choices in partners to women only and to refuse sexual partners with penises. It's not illegal to demand that the government consider the implication of legislation and policies that allow anyone at all to self-identify as women and to consult the public. It's not illegal for women to want access to change rooms free from men. It's not illegal to think critically, ask questions and to explore ideas."
Murphy also pointed out the duplicity of trans-gender activism which reinforces gendered stereotypes. She stated that the purpose of feminism was in fact to destroy the conception of gender altogether.
"We have bodies and we have personalities and my personality is not a set of stereotypes. And I refuse to identify myself as a set of stereotypes that have been used to defend sexist practices and beliefs throughout history," said Meghan.
Lee Lakeman provided a historical perspective on feminism
The other speaker at Meghan Murphy's side was Lee Lakeman, a woman who has spent several years fighting for woman's rights in Canada.
Lakeman gave a compelling and historically-minded defense of feminism and her stance with regards to transgenderism. She spoke on the fight for equal pay, the redistribution of wealth and the right to social welfare and services for all women.
Throughout her speech Lakeman gave a biting criticism of all of the parties involved in attempting to have the event shut down.
"What kind of socialism excuses the library senior staff who claim to be holding to the fine principles of access to all or that excuses the new NDP mayor who trashed Meghan? That excuses the premier who ignores the misbehavior of his party members against feminists? This is not the practice of liberty in any case," said Lakeman.
Lakeman went on to describe the necessity of organization to achieve woman's rights going through a list of women who have been historically significant to the women's movement. Her words were widely applauded and received a standing ovation by the end of her speech.
Fay Blaney and the indigenous women's perspective
The talk had two special guests who weren't initially advertised to be speaking. Fay Blaney, an indigenous educator involved in the Aboriginal Women's Action Network and her aunt Florence spoke with regard to the struggle First Nations women have to face in Canada.
Blaney's speech elaborated on traditional views of gender among indigenous people and the diversity of thought and opinion among the different peoples who make up Canada's First Nations.
"I wanted to say a couple of things about the topic that we're talking about, I'm a member of the Aboriginal Women's Action Network, we've been around since 1995. And it was around that time that this issue was becoming a really big one," said Blaney.
"There are people who are talking about how indigenous nations had five genders. That's absolute B.S."
Blaney goes on to academics who profess themselves to be indigenous exports
"Being self-professed experts on indigenous issues, they're the ones that are saying that there are five genders and they're the ones saying that this is the situation across all cultures in North America. I'm totally offended with someone saying that they're experts on all indigenous cultures. That's the pan-Indianism that we're fighting now," said Blaney.
"I saw a sign out there that was so ridiculous, it said that to erase trans is to erase indigenous society and I'm here to say that we're not being erased and that we'll be here for a hell of a long time. "
Florence, Fay's aunt then came up to the microphone to discuss several issues indigenous people as a whole and women more specifically face in Canada today and in the past.
Diversity of thought during the Q&A
After the speakers finished their respective turns, the night ended off with a fruitful and diverse Q&A.
The first question to be posed from online viewers asked the speakers to address the fact that there was no trans speaker in the panel.
Lee Lakeman pointed out the fact that trans-asctivsts had hegemony and the upper hand in the situation. The establishment is behind their back as the struggled the event faced to be staged made evident.
Another online viewer asked whether there was room for trans rights to work and exist alongside women’s rights.
Murphy seemed to agree but was reluctant to admit that they currently have a common purpose. From her view, trans activists are more interested in tearing down women’s spaces and accomplishments instead of creating spaces for themselves.
One of the inquiries put forward to the speakers addressed the alarming speed at which gender-identity laws have been passed and whether the push for trans ideology is coming from above in the form of neoliberalism.
"The truth of it is we don't really know yet, there are a lot of us asking those questions," replied Lakeman.
"Why is it in the interest of people in power and people with money to rush through ill-thought laws and policies?"
On the issue of language, Jenn Smith an anti-SOGI activist as well as a writer for The Post Millennial brought up how the debate seems to revolve around the use of words.
In response to Smith, Meghan Murphy claimed that activists use elitist academic jargon to intimidate and confuse people. Murphy pointed out that most people don’t have a degree in gender studies and so aren’t equipped with the terminology that trans activists often employ to confound their opponents.
The strangest question of the night came near the end of the Q&A when an "Afro-Portuguese" woman claimed that Fay Blaney was conflating trans-racial with trans-gender.
"I'm gonna give an example before asking you guys what you think about that. Being raised in black culture, I can tell that woman got no black friends because her hair's a mess right? It is cultural context that being a woman is something we are socialized to be," she said.
"If you are not raised in that cultural context, you are not able to understand what it means to be a part of that group, so to conflate trans-racial and trans-gender is irrational... I feel that white people shouldn't be adopting black children."
Despite the night having a few eccentricities and being encumbered by set backs, the events ended on a positive mood and on time
Overall the hostility between the groups remained at a low and once the audience became settled everybody seemed to be engaged with what was going on.
All of the speakers of the night spoke with vigor and passion in defense of their point of views and the entire affair was ultimately a victory for free speech.