Freedom of speech took a major hit in Canada this week when the CBC pulled a BBC documentary from its lineup because a handful of so-called “transgender activists” felt it “disseminates inaccurate information about trans youth and gender dysphoria, and will feed transphobia,” according to one Joshua M. Ferguson (see Toronto Star report).
The Toronto Star describes the documentary as controversial, saying it “questions what is the right approach for children with gender dysphoria, a condition in which a person’s physical or assigned gender conflicts with the gender with which they identify.”
The synopsis for the documentary reportedly said: “Increasingly, parents are encouraged to adopt a ‘gender affirmative’ approach — fully supporting their children’s change of identity. But is this approach right?”
At least one other trans activist invoked the name of Hitler in her reasoning — in a reply to me on Twitter — on why the documentary shouldn’t be seen in Canada. At that point, I hadn’t seen the documentary, but sought it out online the next day and viewed it.
I’m not sure what the fuss was about. The documentary, called Transgender Kids: Who Knows Best, is an objective report. As columnist Barbara Kay wrote in her review of the program, “it is an excellent documentary, presenting both sides of the thorny questions surrounding this issue with admirable balance, objectivity and neutrality.”
Indeed, I felt exactly the same way — and regular readers here know I am paid to be excruciatingly objective as an editor working for a mainstream newspaper. I play devil’s advocate every shift, making sure everyone gets a fair shake in our reports: the bad guys, the good guys and everyone in-between.
So, I can say with some level of expertise that Transgender Kids: Who Knows Best is objective.
Of course, you don’t have to take my word for it — watch it for yourself, if interested.
The fact that a handful of transgender activists were concerned about the program is not surprising, and I am not judging them here or challenging their motives. It is their right to protest against anything they want. That’s what freedom of speech is all about. And it should be understood that this group of trans activists do not represent the greater community, which would probably be appalled by the censorship of this program. And by the resulting embarrassment as their community comes under attack by many people decrying yet another attack by trans activists on freedom of speech.
The headline on Barbara’s piece is “Questioning gender fluidity is the new blasphemy.” Here’s the first paragraph of her piece:
“The capitulation of the establishment to the politics of transgenderism has been astonishing. I’m struggling to remember any other time when a new and contested ideology has been so uncritically embraced by the powers-that-be,” writes English pundit Brendan O’Neill in a November Spectator column, titled “Questioning gender fluidity is the new blasphemy,” an excellent contribution to this ferociously contested political terrain.
That pretty much sums up how a lot of people feel today. Say anything negative about trans ideology, and you will be attacked in social media.
Maybe. But journalists are attacked every day. If we crumbled every time somebody criticized us, there would be no media. We are not afraid.
At least, most of us aren’t afraid.
It would be a mistake to blame trans activists for the fact someone in the CBC caved in to pressure from them. A CBC spokesperson told the National Post: “We felt that we were not in a position to adequately support the conversation and debate that would be sparked by the airing of the doc and so, made a decision to pull it from the schedule.”
Yes, it is a wishy-washy statement. But it also makes it clear CBC pulled the documentary. Trans activists did not storm the station and burn the film. They didn’t hack the CBC and erase files. They merely protested against it — and CBC caved.
Shame on them.
As for the trans activists, well, I will finish here with another quote from Barbara’s column, again quoting Brendan O’Neill:
“Trans adults should enjoy the same rights as every other adult, and by the same token, their ideas, their beliefs, their faith, should be subjected to the same levels of criticism and even ridicule as everybody else’s. People have rights; their ideologies do not.”