People are asking me to share my thoughts regarding Jenn Smith’s sometimes confounding anti-trans statements. Specifically I’m being asked if I consider Jenn Smith to be a trans activist or an opponent to transgender rights. Despite Jenn being Transgender, I consider Jenn to be the latter.
I first crossed paths with this individual on Twitter in 2016, when I tweeted from Ottawa that I was with (former) Canadian Minister of Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould working through the final details Government’s unveiling of bill C-16, which explicitly protected Canadians from discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression. Jenn seemed horrified and angry, fiercely expressing horror from Abbotsford, BC on discovering this was happening.
It seemed from Jenn’s tweet like if this transgender person had never heard of the decades long struggle to afford civil rights protection to transgender persons and was in a hurry to stop it. To be honest, I was surprised.
Jenn Smith uses pronouns he/him/his and does not acknowledge the gender of anyone who does not meet his narrow view of sex and gender. In all my advocacy, I had never run into anyone in the Trans community who held the self-pathogizing view of their Trans identity that Jenn expressed. Jenn’s interpretation of being Trans comes quite close to the TERF lens: sex and gender are immutable and his mental illness leads him to express his gender by taking on a stereotypical persona that he displays while remaining a man.
Based on Jenn’s presentation and identity, I consider him more like a cross dresser or someone in profound denial of being a transgender woman, someone who would benefit from participating in the Cornbury Society.
I do accept only Jenn knows how he identifies. He strikes me as the opposite extreme of the transgender spectrum from so-called “True Trans” men or women who identify as natal females who were born with an “unfortunate masculine” birth defects which make them appear to be men because of a perceived chromosomal anomaly.
These are extremists interpretations of the phenomenon of being transgender. The most extremist views are the most exclusive and like any other radicalized mindset, their excesses are a pox on all our houses.
The Trans umbrella is big and the vast majority of us accept others regardless of the different interpretation of “transness” than our own. Accepting diversity strikes me as a natural prerequisite of being transgender considering we are an embodiment of diversity. Rejecting others because they’re not exactly like ourselves is a profoundly hypocritical way to uphold our own identity.
It saddens me profoundly however to see some among us lash out at others under the Trans umbrella as lesser or unwell on the basis of their gender identity being magically inferior. Jenn goes as far as accusing “big pharma” of twisting the minds of vulnerable children and “transactivists” of manipulating the weak minded. In Jenn’s writings, there are numerous references to conspiracies and global elite cabals. In my experience, people who other such conspiracy theories are often unwell. This is in fact one of the reasons I have stayed away from speaking about this one specific person in public. It is and harmful to encourage people dealing with mental illness to engage in public and on the record.
We’re all in on it, apparently – a sentiment I first encountered dealing with the aftermath of the incident of the Montreal Clinic arson attack which involved issues around David Icke’s odd claims about shape-shifting alien reptiles conspiracy. It would be funny if it had not been so dangerous for the people in the clinic.
Oddly, Jenn Smith seems to also be reading too much Icke… I just hope it’s a coincidence that Jenn also thins we’r all being brainwashed by a mysterious predatory elite.
In all civil rights movements, there are dissenting voices that rise in opposition to the central cause. The reasons why they dissent with the ideas the majority in a community accept can vary, are their own, and as such are always valid.
Everyone has a right to speak about their own experiences, their hopes, and their fears. People who advocate for the oppression of transgender people on the basis of their gender identity or expression are not transgender activists but oppressors of transgender people…no matter who they are or how they identify.
I will always uphold the right of anyone to advocate for their right to exist as who they are or to hold a viewpoint. Jenn Smith’s lived experience is Jenn’s own and valid. Jenn’s hopes and fears are meaningful. Civil rights are for everyone, including people who are afraid of being transgender.
Nonetheless, the right to express one’s self does not necessarily extend to inciting hatred or advocating for discrimination in public.
Trans inclusion and protection are civil rights issues.
People who advocate against others on the basis of their gender identity or expression the way Jenn Smith does are opponents to the civil rights of trans persons.
People opposed to the civil rights of transgender people are not trans activists but anti-trans activists – or even TERF (Trans-exclusionary radical feminist) activists when it is specifically antagonistic to transgender women.
Jenn Smith Advocates against the best interests of many transgender people and specifically against the rights of transgender women to access services for women and against allowing transgender people to access hormone replacement therapy or gender-affirming surgery. In my eyes, this is not Trans activism but oppression.
A person who oppresses Trans people should not in my eyes be called a trans activist but a TERF or anti-trans activist.