(Click on the above image or here to access the interactive map.)
UPDATE as of November 1, 2019 12:30pm: The panel has found a new venue which they will release shortly before the event takes place. Follow this facebook event page for updates about the rally/protest: https://www.facebook.com/events/529386161147677/.
This analysis was created and written on unceded Coast Salish territory by nonbinary, trans, and Two-Spirit people. We seek to work in solidarity with Indigenous peoples in the struggle for autonomy and self-determination. We recognize that the gender binary is a colonial construct and affirm the diversity of gender identity and gender expression of people around the world, especially those who are reclaiming identities and roles lost, erased and vilified due to colonization.
So-called Vancouver, Canada has a history of trans exclusionary radical feminism (TERF) and sex worker exclusionary radical feminism (SWERF) dating back to the 1970s when the local feminist movement splintered. Under the smokescreen of a radical feminism, these oppressive groups and individuals have sought to exclude trans women from their crisis centres and organizing circles, and have played both sides of colonial Canada’s criminal legal system in their attempts to further criminalize sex work and prevent human rights protection from discrimination for trans people, particularly trans women.
Throughout 2019 there has been a considerable rise in anti-trans hostility in Vancouver and the surrounding region, with noted collaboration among TERF/SWERFs, Christian fundamentalists, Neo-Nazis, and white supremacists, including: GIDYVR, Culture Guard, Soldiers of Odin, People’s Party of Canada, and Proud Boys. Some of the talks were hosted at venues provided by the Vancouver Public Library, University of British Columbia, and the District of Oak Bay.
On November 2, 2019, Lindsay Shepherd, Jonathan Kay, Anna Slatz, and Meghan Murphy were scheduled to speak at Simon Fraser University (SFU). Their talk was focused on propagating misinformation about trans people, Two Spirit people, and multiply marginalized communities, as well as inciting hatred and violence. Due to security concerns, the sponsoring professor, Mark Collard, cancelled the booking. This document provides a brief background of the panelists, examples of anti-trans hate speech written by them, and their connections to the larger network of supremacists in so-called Vancouver. All quotations have been published in two online right-wing publications: Quillette and The Post Millennial. All four presenters have close connections to these publications.
Quillette and The Post Millennial
Quillette and The Post Millennial are online, right-wing publications in which the presenters have published their anti-trans articles (alongside targeting Indigenous peoples, people of colour, disabled people, and many other multiply marginalized communities). Jonathan Kay, one of the panelists, is a senior editor for Quillette and Lindsay Shepherd, the moderator, is engaged to the editor for The Post Millennial. These publications began to include anti-trans rhetoric two years ago, which contributed to the increasing volume of anti-trans hate speech in right-wing politics. This acceleration of anti-trans sentiment parallels the uptick in anti-trans events over the past ten months in our region, as well as the historical events when fascist organizations attacked 2SLGBTQIA+ communities and other marginalized groups.
Lindsay Shepherd gained notoriety when she was a Wilfrid Laurier student and teaching assistant (TA) in November 2017. She was a TA for a class on technical writing and grammar when she showed a video of Jordan Peterson—a known white, cis, hetero, male supremacist with little-to-no expertise in the topics he writes and speaks about—spouting anti-trans bigotry regarding gender-neutral pronouns. She was disciplined by the school in a meeting she secretly recorded, adding to her viral moment.
Shepherd has since become a darling of alt-right Canadian circles. In 2018 she hosted a speaker series that included Faith Goldy (an alt-right white supremacist and contributor to Rebel Media) and Frances Widdowson (an academic who focuses on promoting colonialism and racism against Indigenous peoples).
Shepherd, like the three panelists, has used Jessica Yaniv’s case as justification for broader slander and violence toward trans women. This past August, Shepherd co-authored an article with Kay in Quillette, stating that “[Yaniv] exemplifies the perceived threats to women and children when male-bodied individuals can declare their gender to be whatever they like.” Shepherd and Kay use Yaniv to perpetuate transmisogyny, reinforcing the stereotype that trans women are inherently sexual predators, and inciting hostility and violence toward trans women.
Shepherd has written several articles for the Post Millennial. In one, she writes that the “assertion that Albertan universities are required by human rights law to provide students with Islamic facilities undermines Canadian identity,” clearly showing her racist and Islam antagonist belief that Muslim people are incompatible with public spaces in so-called Canada. In another article, she writes, “Are European and Euro-descended people not allowed to express a soft regret that the societies they grew up in are rapidly changing due to mass migration?” This deeply ahistorical and white supremacist statement erases centuries of European colonial and imperial genocide enacted around the world, and the white supremacist structural violence that forces people to migrate from their homes–many of whom are women.
One must ask oneself, if Meghan Murphy is a feminist, as she claims, why would she align herself with Shepherd?
Jonathan Kay is a senior editor of Quillette. His mother, Barbara Kay, is also a contributor. He was a founding member of the editorial board for the National Post, to which he still occasionally contributes to, and the editor-in-chief of The Walrus. He resigned from The Walrus in 2017 because he felt pressure to “self-censor” himself. This occurred just after outrage was expressed by Indigenous writers surrounding the “appropriation prize” controversy that had suggested white writers explore the lives of ‘people who aren’t like you’, to which Kay defended.
Kay has a history of publishing racist, anti-Indigenous, anti-Muslim content, including work that has been disseminated by the far-right Jewish Defense League, stating, “The continued vibrancy and economic success of Jewish civilization — so close to Islam’s very heartland — is precisely what has fed Muslim rage and jealousy for 14 centuries”. More recently, Kay has published articles targeting trans people. This past March, he gave platform to a researcher who dismisses many trans teenagers as suffering from “peer contagion,” arguing that for the sake of children, trans teens shouldn’t be believed and their trans identity should be denied.
Through his commentary on the National Post, Kay has criticized the #MeToo movement, stating that men losing their jobs for being outed as rapists is worse than the Inquisition, in which people were burned at the stake. Conveniently, Kay does show concern about sexual assault when it positions trans women as the perpetrators. In an article published this past August and co-authored by Shepherd, they write, “This policy [of trans self-identification as women] has put women at risk of violent sexual assault.”
One must ask oneself, If Meghan Murphy is a feminist, as she claims, why would she align herself with Kay?
Anna Slatz, also known as Anna de Luca, is a writer for The Post Millennial with a long history of publishing vitriolic articles, particularly against trans women. In March of this year, in an article for The Post Millennial, Slatz wrote about Vancouver Rape Relief receiving termination funding from the City of Vancouver for excluding trans women from their services, stating, “Othering females so as to differentiate and separate them from their own sex—cis women, how I hate that term – as though we were anything but authentically, simply, women. The lovely Barbara Kay precisely defined this as the “dilution of women.””
Slatz’s arguments rely on gender essentialist and biological determinist rhetoric that posits womanhood as being directly in opposition to trans people’s experiences, creating a false divide between cis women and trans women and erasing intersex women altogether. This narrative reinforces the gender binary, which harms people of all genders and reduces womanhood to reproductive function and genitalia.
In the same article, Slatz writes, “The misogyny of these trans-activists should be inherent in their delusion that they can become women, totally.” Her arguments equate being trans with having a mental illness, implying mentally ill people do not have the same right to bodily autonomy that neurotypical people do.
During her brief period as editor of the University of New Brunswick student newspaper, The Baron, Slatz published an article written by Jonathan Furlow with explicitly Nazi ideology. For this, she was fired from The Baron, who issued an apology. Slatz has also written hit pieces on Zoë Quinn, a cis woman who has been the target of misogynistic and ableist harassment for years, seeking to discredit Quinn’s allegations of sexual assault.
One must ask oneself, if Meghan Murphy is a feminist, as she claims, why would she align herself with Slatz?
Meghan Murphy is an anti-trans, anti–sex work blogger who lives in Vancouver. She has slowly and gradually garnered support and notoriety, specifically for her anti-trans, anti–sex worker ideology through online blogging and various media publications. In 2008, Murphy ran a radio show on Vancouver Co-op Radio entitled “The F Word,” where she invited anti-trans, anti–sex worker bigots to speak until she was eventually ousted around 2012 by co-op members who threatened to pull membership funding. That same year, Murphy founded Feminist Current, an online blog that propagates hatred and misinformation about trans women, trans people as a whole, and sex workers. This blog is widely recognized as being a part of a larger hate movement called “gender critical feminism.”
Murphy has written for Quillette, as well as for the eco-fascist group Deep Green Resistance, who have been denounced by student, eco, and Indigenous groups. She is a former contributor to rabble.ca, and in 2015, a petition was created by trans and sex worker communities and their allies across Canada to have Murphy fired for using the website to espouse her bigotry and hate. Murphy was never fired and was able to freely contribute until she eventually quit because an article she wrote was pulled for containing trans antagonist language.
In May 2017, Murphy flew to Ottawa to speak out against Bill C-16, legislation in Canada that prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression. Murphy sat alongside a representative of Vancouver Rape Relief and Christian fundamentalist Paul Dirks (formerly of New West Community Church), which falls in line with her repeated arguments that, “new gender identity policies and legislation hurt girls and women.”
At one of her events in Vancouver this year, Murphy spoke to the audience saying, “there is no such thing as a “trans kid.”” In her publications, she consistently invalidates trans women, referring to them as “biological males” or “trans-identified males”. There are endless examples, online and offline, of the ways in which Murphy has perpetuated harm toward trans women, trans people as a whole, and sex workers. At her events, Murphy creates hostile and oppressive environments for trans people and incites hate speech from her supporters.
Aside from spreading misinformation, Murphy has posted online the personal information of trans people and sex workers without their consent, including photos, deadnames (birth names), place of work, etc., which has led to her being banned from Twitter. She has also instigated online swarms, where her followers hone in on individuals and harass them. Some people have taken their own lives as a response.
These examples indicate that the extent of these harms would not exist without Murphy having access to platforms to normalize these ideas and behaviours. These examples also give further context to understand why we and other people have asked, and continue to ask, for Murphy (and anyone who shares her hatred of trans people and sex workers) to not be provided a platform, especially by institutions both public and corporate.
At this point, one must ask oneself, how is Murphy a feminist?
A Web of Hate, Spin, and Lies
Trans people, sex workers, people of colour, disabled people, working class people, people with low income, and multiply marginalized folks have continuously asserted that Murphy and her followers’ so-called “feminism” is white supremacist. The panel on November 2 demonstrates, now more than ever, the kinds of people and ideas Murphy is willing to associate with. Her ease and willingness to collaborate with individuals and publications with a known history of promoting misinformation, targeting marginalized communities, and fostering fear and hatred clearly demonstrate her anti-Indigenous, anti-Muslim, anti-disabled, anti-women, anti–sex workers, and anti-trans sentiments.
While the links among the panelists and the aforementioned publications are clear, it is merely the highly visible tip of a larger supremacist sentiment–a larger web of supremacists remains to be seen. Vancouver Rape Relief, the Vancouver Women’s Library, Grumpy Old Dykes, Vancouver Lesbian Collective, and countless known and unknown individuals, groups, and organizations in our city have ties to Murphy, especially, as well as many of the panelists. On January 10, 2019 when Murphy hosted an event at the Vancouver Public Library, the former Executive Director of Vancouver Rape Relief, Lee Lakeman, was a featured guest. During the Yaniv case, Slatz promoted a fundraiser through The Post Millennial in which “[a]ny funds unable to be distributed to an esthetician will be split and donated to Vancouver Rape Relief….and the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms.”
Despite these connections, many individuals and organizations continue to struggle with grasping the severity of anti-trans and anti-sex worker ideologies and its impact on our communities. It is also likely that many of us as individuals are connected to, or have a few degrees of separation from, TERF/SWERFs and white supremacists. Perhaps when supremacist sentiments are pointed out, especially coming from the people and communities whose lives are most directly affected by these views, we can take them seriously and act accordingly.
Many of the aforementioned quotations are measured against the “Hallmarks of Hate”, a tool determined by the Supreme Court of Canada in Saskatchewan to be an acceptable form of evaluating hate speech. Despite clear examples of hate speech by the panelists, institutions like SFU continue to platform supremacists under the guise of “freedom of expression”. By providing rental space and by having an SFU professor sponsor the event, SFU is complicit in enabling and normalizing anti-trans violence, among other forms of oppression. The cancellation of the room booking by Collard due to security concerns highlights the reality that institutions are not sincere in “diversity” and “inclusion” or creating safer environments for multiply marginalized people, and are solely interested in the security and maintenance of the status quo. SFU is more interested in prioritizing ideas, profit, and property over the safety and dignity of people.
#NoTERFsNoSWERFs #ShutDownHate #TakeBackSFU #FuckYouSFU #ShameOnSFU
This dossier was made possible due to the generous volunteer labour of trans people and their allies. If you appreciate this work and the ongoing work of the Coalition Against Trans Antagonism, send us some love and donate to us here ♥
2 thoughts on “Know Your Enemy: An Analysis of the November 2, 2019 Panel of Hate”
Lindsay Shepherd is also the campus free speech fellow at JCCF.
There is a bit more Rebel Media around the periphery and is worth charting, if you’re graphing it all. Even moreso with VRR’s current & former board. And the ex-CAMH bunch (Zucker, Blanchard, Cantor, Bradley) and allies (Les, Buffone) are in the mix, working with parent sites 4thwavenow et al. They’re a bit tangential to mainstream TERFery, but their rise is concurrent and that seems to be relevant.
Mapping these is limited in its usefulness, though. All it really shows is several people and groups with similar aims, operating together within a bit of a like-minded echo chamber. It’s useful to understand the people and their motives, but not so useful to make it personal (which I know you’re not doing, but could be a direction that some folks go from here), which just provides more opportunity for them to cry victim.
It’s important to remember that we’re not looking at some grand conspiracy, but rather several different parties of interest whose interests align, and willing to work with (or sometimes cynically exploit each other) for a particular goal. Coinciding interest opportunism — which, really, is just a mundane function of capitalism, but provides considerable clarity into the undercurrents that power conservative activism. I’ve actually studied a lot of this by following US conservative media, think tanks and religious organizations. i.e. what benefit does the Heritage Foundation, a neoliberal / market fundamentalist think tank, see from funding anti-LGBTQ+ and anti- reproductive justice causes? Figure that out, and you’ve got something. Follow the money, and you find ways to undo the funding and incentives.
The real value is figuring out who is funding things and what the motives for doing so are. For example, there is a lot of money flowing into anti- sex-ed activism from US religious conservative groups (whose motive is obvious), but even moreso from homeschooling organizations, neoliberal groups and hedge fund figures wanting to privatize education (ding ding! Heritage Foundation, for one — also, the Fraser Institute). It’s why PAFE and PFCE are at the forefront in Ontario and Alberta / BC, and command attention despite being more or less astroturfy.
In the case of TERFery, Canada is late to the show, but UK & US trans-exclusionary folks have been increasingly working with religious conservative and neoliberal orgs, because the latter see the former as a good way to use trans issues as a wedge against LGBTQ+ rights and even turning the tide against the sexual revolution overall. And the trans-exclusionary folks are just mostly glad to get the money and attention, even if they’re not always happy about the source. Crowdfunding campaigns provide some of the best middlemen there, and even provide a way for the recipients to wash their consciences of any guilt from the partnership. See: https://twitter.com/mimmymum/status/1190313522040844290
So my first thought about remedy would be to put pressure on the sites providing the crowdfunding. That will be a bit of a game of whack-a-mole, though, so a longer game is also needed.
LikeLiked by 2 people
Great, vital info. Thanks to all involved in setting it all out so clearly for all to access!