Toronto’s public library is standing by its decision to permit a third-party event featuring a writer and activist who argues against transgender rights, despite mounting opposition from authors, politicians and the city’s mayor.
Vickery Bowles says letting Meghan Murphy speak is a matter of ‘standing up for free speech’
The Toronto Public Library is standing by its decision to rent out space to a third-party event featuring a writer and activist who argues against transgender rights, despite mounting opposition from authors, politicians and the city’s mayor.
Meghan Murphy, who runs the website Feminist Current, has argued that “allowing men to identify as women” undermines women’s rights, and that transgender women should not be allowed in women’s spaces.
She has publicly opposed Bill C-16, which made it illegal to discriminate based on gender identity and expression, and was banned from Twitter in 2018 for violating its hate speech policy.
Authors Alicia Elliott, Catherine Hernandez and Carrianne Leung say they will no longer participate Toronto Public Library (TPL) events in light of its decision, and have launched a petition decrying the TPL for allowing “hate speech to be disseminated” at the Oct. 29 discussion.
In an emailed statement to As It Happens, Murphy said she supports “human rights for all” and that many women “have very serious concerns about the impact of gender identity legislation on women and girls.”
“It’s incredibly disappointing that their voices and arguments have not been given fair treatment in the media, and it is appalling that so many who consider themselves progressive people have smeared, threatened, bullied, and ostracized those who do speak out,” she said.
As It Happens host Carol Off spoke to Vickery Bowles, city librarian for the Toronto Public Library, about the decision. Here is part of their conversation.
Did you know that Megan Murphy would be part of this panel before you rented the space?
Absolutely, we knew that.
And you knew that Ms. Murphy has argued that trans women should not be allowed into women’s locker rooms … bathrooms or prisons, and that allowing people to self-declare their legal gender will “nullify women’s rights.” You knew all of that?
Yes, we did. We were well aware of the Vancouver Public Library controversy, where Meghan Murphy was allowed to speak. There’s actually a YouTube video of that event, which we reviewed.
And the room rental purpose was to have an educational and open discussion on the concept of gender identity and its legislation ramifications on women in Canada.
The purpose of this — to look at what does it mean for society, the law and women — it wasn’t an educational session, was it? This is someone who says that these rights should not exist, is that not the case?
Well, it’s a discussion. It’s part of a civil discourse that people are having in the larger community about gender identity.
Support for Toronto Public Library hosting Meghan Murphy!
If you look at the comments on https://np.reddit.com/r/canada/comments/djuco6/im_not_going_to_reconsider_torontos_top_librarian/
there are tons of positive ones, intelligent ones, supportive comments:
I’ve never heard of Murphy and don’t know what she has said about transgender people. But the complainers seem to think that no one should be allowed to hear what she has to say.
This is exactly it. Freedom of speech (or rather expression, in Canada) isn’t just about my right to speak, it’s as much about your right to hear. Who else would you trust to make that decision for you, to dictate what information you can or cannot be exposed to.
I’ll step on the land mine and try to answer your question. There is nothing controversial about Murphy’s concerns to any sane person. I don’t agree with her 100%, but she raises valid concerns & questions that do not have simple answers to them. In specific, she has issues with trans-women competing with biological woman in sports. Perfectly understandable considering the number of trans-women who have destroyed their competition in recent events, typically in track and field, …
The flaw in your argument is the fact that a growing number of transgender people are regretting their transition, and by denying people the right to discuss the subject, you effectively ensure that this number will never go down, because no solution can be found if you deny people the right to call something “a problem”.
Honestly, when did the left become the totalitarians? I’m only 36, but I remember growing up that the conventional wisdom was the right was totalitarian. I learned later that opinion was mostly due to misunderstandings re: free markets and what the bible teaches, but still, the left was always about freedom and individual rights. Guess what guys, there is no right to “not be offended”. Even if there were, it wouldn’t trump someone else’s right to free speech in a private setting because you don’t have to be there.