On May 2 2019, conservative faith-based group Canadian Christian Lobby, the CCL, held a public talk entitled “The erosion of freedom: How transgender politics in school and society is undermining our freedom and harming women and children”. This was the fourth in a series on Vancouver Island that also advertises dates in Metro Vancouver in may.
“Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination”Constitution Act, 1982
Operating in British Columbia and started in early 2018 in a collaboration between Laura-Lynn Thompson, Jenn Smith, Paul Dirks, Christian McCay (also known as Christian Michael), and a few other deeply socially conservative persons in the Christian community, this organization’s central interest appears to be to attack the legitimacy of lesbian, gay, transgender, and two-spirit persons and communities by eroding protective measures put in place to keep children safe from abuse and bullying. They are funding an anti-SOGI tour rich with misinformation aimed at inciting parents to fight provisions put in place to protect transgender children.
“[Laura-Lynn] Thompson, a former televangelist who is running for school trustee in Burnaby as part of a campaign to repeal British Columbia’s SOGI 123 initiative, insists a “rational discussion” with a therapist is all it takes to change kids minds about their gender or being gay. SOGI 123 is an initiative aimed at protecting young people from homophobic and transphobic bullying.Press Progress, October 12 2018
Conversion therapy is a pseudoscientific practice that has been denounced by health associations all around the world – the World Psychiatric Association calls it “wholly unethical.” “
Christian (Chris) McCay (Michael) is a Campbell River anti-SOGI activist who oganized and funded a slate of anti-SOGI candidates 2018 for the Campbell River School Board on an anti-SOGI platform. They all lost.
“Chris McCay, also known as Christian Michael, has been among the most outspoken of those questioning SOGI and told the school trustees he had seen rainbow stickers in the windows of a local school.”Mike Chouinard, Campbell River Mirror
Kari Simpson is a Parents Rights activist who has lobbied against gay, lesbian, transgender, and two-spirit inclusion for two decades in British Columbia
Also among those taking part were the controversial Soldiers of Odin. The group is an offshoot of an anti-immigrant group in Europe. The Canadian offshoots say they do not share an ideology with the European groups, and accept people of all origins.Bethany Lindsay, CBC
However, they have clashed with anti-racism demonstrators locally, with three Soldiers of Odin arrested by the VPD in March of 2017 following a scuffle with marchers organized by the Pacific Coalition Against Bigotry.
[Kari] Simpson dismissed concerns about the group.
“I think those are probably overplayed, like us being called a hate group,” she said.
Jenn Smith is an until-recently unknown conspiracy blogger that identifies as a so-called trans-identified male and uses pronouns he/him/his. He has a lot to say about other transgender people and keeps insisting transgender women do not exist. The CCL is using him as their transgender shield to spread transphobic misinformation in BC.
If you have a man who says he is a woman, this is a delusion. That’s just a fact.Jenn Smith, at an April 2019 CCL event
Paul Dirks is an Evangelical Minister and is currently listed as lead pastor at New West Community Baptist Church. Dirks keeps trying to “prove” that being transgender is a mental illness and that most transgender children desist. He continually demonises transgender women and pathologizes transgener people, trying to demonstrate that transgender women are dangerous to other women.
Dirks first appeared on the scene with his “Woman means something” campaign in which he plastered Yaletown with a handful of anti-transgender posters. lately, Dirks has been trying to accumulate “evidence” that transgender women are criminals. Despite zero training in science or academia, Dirks believes he is qualified to conduct trend research and reach research conclusions. Strangely enough he rarely cites recent peer-reviewed findings.
“The WOMAN Means Something campaign was begun in opposition to Bill C-16, a Bill that completely undermines and destroys women’s rights, freedoms, protections, and identity under the law. We affirm that all people are to be loved, valued, respected and celebrated as people. But any legislation that pits gender vs. sex, or defines “woman” such that it is meaningless, will result in tremendous harm to women, girls, and their rights.”Paul Dirks’s Women Mean Something web page
Everyone has every right to speak about their own experiences and how they interpret them. However, this does not mean making statements about others with the intent of inciting discrimination.
Odiously, the approach of the CCL seems to center on organizing events featuring Jenn Smith as a supposed expert on children who transition. Jenn may be well-suited to talk about how homophobia, transphobia, and mental illness have shaped his life. When he speaks about these matters he speaks from a position of authority. Smith could speak knowledgeably about when discussing how discrimination, transphobia, homophobia, and religion have affected Jenn Smith’s views of the world.
However, this is not what Jenn Smith does. Smith deliberately demonizes and pathologizes transgender persons by actively participating in a concerted misinformation campaign. Worryingly, Jenn Smith events have attracted dangerous groups including the Soldiers of Odin and the Hells Angels for unclear reasons and it is disconcerting that the CCL has not publicly declared their relationship with these groups.
In the most recent event, security was provided to Jenn Smith by the Soldiers of Odin, a white supremacist group being tracked by the Canadian Border Services Agency, the CBSA. Each time Soldiers of Odin appear in association with Canadian SOGI policy, the CCL and Jenn Smith have been involved (and until recently also Kari Simpson and Laura-Lynn Thomson). There have been some back-channel claims by CCL that SOO was not formally asked to be at any of their events and they did not choose to engage with the Soldiers of Odin, yet it is clear they are spending time together and made no effort to distance themselves from this group.
A formal statement clarifying their relationship might help clarify things for the public.
“Members of the SOO are generally Caucasian males between the ages of 20 and 40 who adhere to right-wing politics and ideology — some members adhere to extreme right-wing ideology and are not afraid to use violence to achieve objectives”CBSA
The CCL speaker’s practice of amplifying known falsehoods, discredited theories, and ludicrous conspiracy rumours in an effort to make it harder for transgender persons to access cross-sex medical treatment is an attempt to cause discrimination.
“Christians are very concerned that their parental rights are being trampled, and they’re right”Jenn Smith
Jenn Smith claiming that the rights of parents are being trampled because their children are exposed to the knowledge that LGBTQ2+ persons exist or that their children are given access to medical treatment some parents may disagree with is unfounded in Canadian and BC law.
Children have the right to be educated without their parent’s consent on matters deemed necessary. They have the right to expect their peers are taught that their lives have value and that they are valid persons, free of the discrimination any parents or other person may be tempted to teach outside of school.
It is disinformation aimed at causing confusion and resistance that is unsupported by our laws. The 2017 Legal Services Society booklet “Parents’ Rights, Kids’ Rights” sets out and explains the laws as they apply to children in British Columbia. The College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia has issued guidance on the rights of children to consent to medical procedures.
“A patient need not be 19 in order to give consent to medical treatment. The concept of maturity has become the principal factor in determining a minor’s capacity to consent to his or her medical treatment. The capacity of a minor is determined by assessing the extent to which the minor’s physical, mental, and emotional development will allow for a full appreciation of the nature and consequences of the proposed treatment, including the refusal of such treatment.“College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia Legislative Guidance: Consent of “minors”
Working to convince people to resist measures specifically put in place to reduce the chronic stigma and marginalization against transgender persons is an act of aggression. Through Jenn Smith’s presentations, the CCL is engaged in a campaign of anti-transgender oppression aimed at negatively affecting the inclusion and acceptance of our community.
“There are a great deal of questions regarding just who is behind the international trans agenda and what their end game is, or why almost every organ of power is supporting the mass delusion that is the new transgender movement.”Jenn Smith, 2017
Jenn Smith seems to be the transgender community’s version of the anti-vaxxers. Smith mentions similar conspiracy theories about Big Pharma and brainwashing that anti-Vaxxers do. If the transgender women’s spectrum of stories were put on a line where on the far right of a line we have the likes of Jenn Smith demanding nobody be able to access hormone therapy or transsexual surgical care, on the opposite end of this line we have the “I was born a female but have a chromosomal birth defect that makes me look like a male and demand immediate correction and everyone is a fake”. These folks are called True Scum by some in the Transgender community.
I couldn’t help but notice that your “friend,” Chris McCay, of the Canadian Christian Lobby getting cozy with Conrad Peach, president of the Sons of Odin and his brethren. Regardless of if you had intended for them to be there, it seemed more than a little bit ironic. It became clear to me that this wasn’t just you… and you didn’t deserve the walk of shame by yourself. There were people (at least one person) who deserved to walk that walk with you. If no one has told you now… The Canadian Christian Lobby aren’t your friends. They’re using you to spread their message. What better person to platform, than someone who identifies as trans, bisexual and a previous worker in the sex trade to spread their message of the Christian way? If it were not for the Canadian Christian Lobby footing part of your bill, supporting you and putting you up to this to spread their message I don’t believe this would have happened.ConcernedIslander, “Dear Jenn I’m sorry“
Many people within the Transgender community scratch our heads at the personalities that inhabit the fringes of our communities. Many of us also find it unfortunate these people seem to have so much to say about other people rather than just focus on finding their own happiness. Jenn Smith being catty about other transgender women would be fine and far from interesting. By taking it to the next stage and inciting discrimination, however, Jenn Smith is harmful to transgender people.
A few months ago, I wrote a piece critical of Jenn Smith’s transphobic advocacy. Anyone is free to identify as whoever they are and should be free to be themselves, but when they stray into advocating for the oppression of others they cause harm. Since you intensified your campaign to the point of a traveling tour specifically aimed at transgender youth, others have written about your work. Medium contributor “ConcernedIslander” wrote two posts that are highly critical of material presented in these events. Open Letter To Jenn Smith, and Open Letter to Jenn Smith, Part 2. They are worth a read.
The CCL speaker had given the same talk 3 times the week of May 2nd seems to have been doing this for some time. Based on notes taken at several of the events, Smith is saying the same thing at each of the talks.
Here are some things Jenn Smith said in his speaker series on 28 April that incite discrimination against transgender people…
A person recorded the Campbell River event at which Jenn spoke. I don’t have permission to share the link to the videos. They are online but not on a link I own.
I transcribed some of the presentation, which I repeat was an event held by the “Canadian Christian Coalition”. If law enforcement would like to review the content, with an annotated audio providing interpretation of the work, I urge them to contact me on this site’s contact form and make a request.
The following three Jenn Smith quotes are transcribed from the Campbell River April 28, 2019 event where the same material planned for Oak Bay was presented.
1. Denying the validity of transgender identity in kids:
“They’re saying kids as young as 3 know their gender identity. Anybody whos’s had any sorts of dealings with a three-year-old will know. three-year-olds know two things: jack and squat. They can not even cross the road on their own and here we have the leading endocrinologist in the world, the representative for the endocrine society, saying three-year-olds know their gender identity.”Jenn Smith, April 2019
2. Pathologizing transgender people on the basis of being transgender:
“Morgane Oger, for instance, says when I talk about this that I pathologize transgender people. The thing is that it happens to be the truth and it happens to be critically important, especially important when we are talking about a lot of these kids who are identifying as transgender.”Jenn Smith, April 2019
3. Comparing being transgender to anorexia:
“If you have a man who says he is a woman, this is a delusion. That’s just a fact. He may not like hearing that fact but it’s true.
This happens to be the only delusional condition that’s actively reinforced. If you look at other delusional conditions, they discourage it.
If you have an anorexic coming to her doctor saying she felt she is fat. What if the doctor was to responded similarly and said ‘well you know what, you do look like you’re a little bit overweight there. I’ll tell you what. We’re going to put you on diet pills and we are going to schedule you for liposuction.’.
We wouldn’t do that because that would just be crazy. We treat the transgender phenomenon differently.”Jenn Smith, April 2019
I do not care who the CCL speaker is, nor what they think about transgender women or the SOGI guidelines in BC schools. People’s fundamental rights include what they believe and of someone thinks the earth is flat or that there are hormones in their cornflakes, good for them. As long as they don’t perform acts of discrimination on prohibited grounds or incite hatred, there is no problem. I cherish this fact.
I also don’t care what anyone does privately or how they identify. In a private exchange, there are no limits on expression. Everything Jenn Smith or anyone else says in private is protected speech just like every gender identity or expression is protected no matter what it is.
However, when anyone shifts from private conversation to public statements, and if they tell others, in public, that being transgender is an illness, or that globally-recognized doctors are charlatans, or that trans-competent medicine is a conspiracy, or that supporting transgender children is child abuse, or that parents should not let schools protect transgender children from discrimination, they are inciting prohibited discrimination and possibly even hatred.
If a speaker urges parents to send their children to conversion therapy or tells people it is a beneficial practice that can change their sexual orientation or gender identity or if they urge people to take action to stop the “contagion” of transgender kids, they are also inciting prohibited discrimination and possibly even hatred.
It seems Jenn Smith is doing all those things and has been for some time. Jenn is doing this in public and closed events and is displaying incitements to discriminate against LGBTQ2+ kids in the presentations with CCL’s permission and thanks to CCL’s organizing the events.
Whatever the CCL or their speakers’ views may be, inciting discrimination on prohibited grounds against others because you don’t agree with their explicitly-protected attributes is against the law in Canada. Just like such action has no place at work or in any public service, it has no place in facilities offering services where people work that rent space.
Allowing groups to organize events that advocate for prohibited discrimination or hatred in municipal facilities causes harm to communities.
Municipalities need to implement policies that help them govern how people use the public spaces they rent from them. It is unfair that Oak Bay left it to British Columbians to deal with the mess they allowed to happen.
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.