This is an open letter to Meghan Murphy, writer and editor of Feminist Current.
You deliberately incite discrimination on prohibited grounds that you know your audience will face serious consequences for following.
What you say is a lie when you claim that denying a publicly-available service provided for women to anyone on the basis of their being transgender is justified or legal in Canada. It is not, and you know it.
“I do not have a gender identity and in fact no one does.”Meghan Murphy
Canada prohibits discrimination on the grounds of gender identity, Meghan. Three legal cases and one elected body have upheld this prohibition but you state as a fact it’s fantasy and tell your audience to ignore this legally-enforced “fantasy”. I am confused.
In a number of public talks I’ve heard you give, you repeatedly start with a statement defining transgender women to not be women but men. I watched you do it at Vancouver Public Library. You then give a speech about why men do not have access to women’s spaces justifying your point of view. Yet, you know you are lying. You know that transgender women are protected from discrimination on the basis of gender identity in Canada where you gave a number of these speeches. You know Canadian transgender women are legally women and female despite your claims otherwise.
“If trans activists truly cared about feminism, they would respect women’s spaces“Meghan Murphy
When you make these claims, your readership might believe you and become angry at transgender people for standing up and demanding our rights be upheld. Inciting an angry mob is an awful way to earn a living, especially through lies. It is a devious trick and it carries criminal and civil liability, Meghan.
“I believe males and females are real, because I believe women’s rights and spaces should be protected, because I believe women have the right to boundaries, and because I ask questions about terms like ‘transgender’ and about the implications of legislation rooted in nonsensical, regressive ideology.”Meghan Murphy, Vancouver Public Library
You may wish that transgender women were not recognized to be women or female in Canada, but we are recognized as women and female and you know it.
You may even feel there should be a special exception to the law about discrimination against transgender women because of your personal beliefs, but there isn’t one. It’s profoundly unlikely to ever happen. You know that it is against the law to discriminate on the grounds of gender identity, sexual orientation, or sex.
“Sex is binary, there’s nothing anyone can do about it that’s science based…it’s just a reality, it’s how we reproduce. It’s human.”Meghan Murphy
You are an intelligent woman and a highly competent policy analyst. Your articles are extremely well thought through and you have the skills and the training to say exactly what you mean to say. You mean to make people believe transgender women are men, or at least not female. Your intention seems to go as far as to fool people into believing there is a law defining what a female is, or what a woman is, knowing this is not true.
Our discrimination laws deliberately define none of the classes (Black, Woman, Transgender, Gay) covered under our human rights laws, but the contexts
(colour, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation) of the explicit protection.
“Sex has nothing to do with you brain”Meghan Murphy
You know the discrimination you urge others to implement is illegal in Canada and most likely know it is illegal in the UK. You probably know It is illegal in every country that is a member of the European Court of Human Rights and in a significant number of other countries. This is why I am so saddened to see you not only advocate for this illegal practice but also mislead people into thinking discrimination against my community is legal in their jurisdiction.
“I am being absolutely clear. I’ve chosen the language I have to avoid confusion. Referring to [transgender women] as male is not ‘misgendering’. There is either no such thing as misgendering or everyone is ‘misgendered’, seeing as gender is bullshit imposed on people against their will. The language of ‘misgendering’ is what is confusing, as is the lie that [transgender women] are female because they say so.”Meghan Murphy
I admit you do it well. You don’t break any law per se. Still, you are misleading people and you know it. You use the tactics of televangelists and other well-versed supremacists who have been doing this for years. You’d even make a fine Peoples Party of Canada candidate.
I define a man as an adult male human, and a woman as an adult female human.Meghan Murphy
You are doing this verbally and online, and you are doing it online. We know why, of course. We both know it is not a crime in Canada to say this in public unless you are likely to cause a disturbance. For example, an act of violence inspired by what you say.
Your website Feminist Current is also publishing this incitement thanks to the legal loophole that allows you to get away with doing it on the internet.
It is that very loophole, the rescinded article 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, that is also used to distribute other supremacist and anti-abortion hate propaganda. I wonder if it feels strange knowing you fall under that when it comes to your published work about transgender women. Then again I know you believe in unfettered free-speech.
As you know, in British Columbia it is only illegal to do what you do if it is in writing on physical media. Yes, our laws are a bit out of date. Our lawmakers don’t consider publishing to a web page to be the same as publishing in a newspaper or magazine. You already know this, of course, and I guess that’s one reason why you’ve given up on finding a publisher for your book.
Anyhow, you know the discrimination you incite is a violation of both Canadian and every Canadian province’s law. You know that the things you say are on the edge of falling under the criminal code if you get too harsh or incite violence. Inciting hatred on explicitly prohibited grounds like I feel you do has repeatedly been found to be a criminal act in Canada.
You know for a fact that any organization that follows your advice is extremely likely to lose in court. As far as I can tell, every organization engaged as a respondent in an anti-trans discrimination complaint since 1999 has lost. And no, Nixon v. VRR is not precedent for service delivery of employment. Today, transgender rights are being systematically confirmed and your writings present your view as if they were a fact rather than a position contrary to our laws.
You deliberately confuse your audience and encourage them to engage in illegal practices. I’m surprised you don’t worry about liability under tort law.
Anyone in Canada who follows your example risks paying the price of your lies in a court of law. Sometimes when advocacy planning happens, I wonder if your giving this bad counsel to your fandom echo chamber is part of the reason Vancouver Rape Relief still seems to think they are not breaking the law. They are speeding towards a brick wall and nobody wants to see a historic organization fail out of pigheadedness. Still, there you were at the Vancouver Public Library with Lee Lakeman encouraging the very prohibited discrimination Hilla Kerner proudly stated Vancouver Rape Relief engages in because “trans women are men”.
Regardless, your actions here seem profoundly irresponsible and beyond comprehension to me, Meghan Murphy.
Of course, the latest legal precedent cementing this now includes the Oger v Whatcott case and the rich case law on which it was built. These rulings leave very little room for anti-transgender discrimination (read none). You and I both know it.
“This decision affirms that the rights of transgender people to safety and dignity are essential human rights,”Kasari Govender, Executive Director of West Coast LEAF
Your lawyers at JCCF have certainly warned you of this too, after they warned off the Vancouver Public Library in when they acted in your name regarding your January event there. Was it at all strange to send anti-LGBT lawyers after a public library? Did you know they also helped schools fighting off the contagion of GSA’s and an anti-abortion group protect their right to harass women? Is it gross to get help from supremacists, or does it feel like family?
Sometimes we take shortcuts to take to get to the ends, but I admit that’s a heck of a crew. I don’t know how you do it, I hope you wash your hands.
If you were to claim on any physical media (that is not private correspondence) that a woman is not female on the basis of her being transgender (me, for example) and should therefore be denied access to any service made available to women or to females, you would face a rock-solid complaint under section 7 of the BC Human Rights Code and be extremely likely to lose.
Maybe ask the JCCF.
If anyone in Canada followed your advice about women’s services, the provider would lose if it were taken to court. Their insurance underwriter might even hold you and your publication responsible for your deliberate and false statements about the legality of anti-transgender discrimination in Canada. Once they deducted it was on your advice or based on your work their client went wrong, they might seek remedy. Liability law is an ugly, high-stakes place nobody wants to lose a case in, Meghan. Did you know it carries unlimited liability.
If somebody quotes you in a book or repeats what you said in a Canadian publication, they will be violating the Canadian laws that prohibiting the publication of hate propaganda. I understand you get paid for your writing and speaking engagements and we all have to eat, but surely you know this will catch up to you one day. I know we don’t like one another one bit but I do hope you’ll follow my example and make sure everything you say is the truth, because liars never win.
In the end, I guess I do have just this one question I would love for you to find a way to answer, Meghan:
Why would you deliberately lie to your own community and put them at legal risk when many engaged stakeholders have been ready to listen to your community’s concerns for so long?
Update: On 16 may 2019, I testified to the Canadian Parliament at the House Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights to assist them in their report on hate online.
The example of online disinformation came up repeatedly with a number of witnesses. You will find the testimony on this Morgane Oger Foundation news release.
I write about inclusion and political issues while working to narrow the gap between the laws we took great pains to create and their real-world implementation.