#ABWomenSpeak June 13 - Barbara Kay - Transcript
Barbara Kay has been a columnist for The National Post since 2003, and writing, teaching, and editing since the 60s. She is a co-writer with Linda Blade on the book Unsporting: How Trans Activism and Science Denial are Destroying Sport. She sent a transcript of her speech and it was read by Raine McLeod.
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Alberta Women Conference June 13, 2021
I am honoured to have this opportunity to speak today.
My subject is complicity with trans activism by alleged feminists in high places and the "women erasure" this complicity results in. Linda Blade has spoken to you about women erasure in the world of sport. I will offer two more examples.
One is women erasure that took place at Canada's March 8 International Women's Day conference; the other is women erasure in a government-funded advocacy group whose mandate is - or was - to support, and advocate for the rights of, women in prison.
International Women's Day
On March 8, under the patronage of Maryam Monsef, Minister for Women and Gender Equality (WAGE), our government held a remote-access, two-day summit to mark International Women's Day (IWD). The promotional material observed that women have faced steep job losses during the pandemic, and shouldered the burden of unpaid work at home. Therefore, #FeministRecovery was to be Canada's 2021 uncontroversial theme for IWD.
The conference should have gone without a hitch. But, thanks to a collision between sex-based rights and gender rights that the government has refused to come to grips with, it didn't. The chat rooms following each presentation became politicized with regard to the word "woman." On the first day, a new Canadian, whose first language was not English, posed civil and reasonable questions to the organizers, such as:
- "I just want to understand how we define feminism. I definitely include transmen [but] not sure if we should include transwomen.
- "Not sure how to phrase this correctly; I am just asking do we define on sex or gender, as I believe as a sex, women have different issues than based on gender, relating to our bodies being female."
No conference spokesperson ever answered her questions.
But even for posing these questions, the woman was treated with hostility and ejected from the chat room by the moderator. She was called "hateful," "transmisogynistic" and a "TERF" - a highly derogatory term. The term "females" was not permitted. Certain topics were off limits - particularly issues that applied systemically to women in other regions of the world, such as sex-selection abortion, female genital mutilation and pre-eclampsia (which in developing countries is 7 times higher than here).
One woman asked: "How do we speak about issues that only affect females? FGM, pregnancy, menstruation, etc?" She received the testy response: "We are being respectful towards WOMEN. Their sexual organs ... are not important..." Another woman responded: "Some men also have menstruation." She finally asked, "How come using the word female is wrong? It specifies issues that are still there. How can we discuss these without using the terminology needed?"
Excellent questions, but projected into a purposeful void. Symbolically as it relates to our general culture, the questioner felt so isolated and shunned, she withdrew from the conference in frustration, leaving the forum to the bullying trans activist allies, aided by the government or its proxies. On International *Women's* Day.
CAEFS stands for Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies. Elizabeth Fry was a pioneer in advocacy for more humane accommodation of women in prison at a time when they were treated with great brutality. CAEFS oversees a dozen or so regional branches. Up until 2019, CAEFS' mission was to serve "women in prison," and their mission statement said so. Today their mission statement says they serve "people in prison."
As you may know, it is now government policy that men who identify as women - or say they do - are permitted to request transfer to women's prison, where conditions are more pleasant, because violence is so much less of an issue than in men's prisons. These biological males are not required to undergo sex reassignment surgery, as used to be the case, or even embark on a hormone program. Self-identification and a pronoun change suffice.
Amongst those biological males who have transferred to women's prisons, there have been a serial pedophile, a serial sex offender, a contract killer, a child killer and a murderer. There are certain to be an escalating number of dangerous impostors happy to game such a naïve system.
At CAEFS 2019 annual meeting, supported by members of the "Lived Experience" committee, a former prisoner recounted her traumas and sexual harassment in prison at the hands of a male-bodied pedophile with a history of hundreds of girl victims. She noted that Correctional Services of Canada had dismissed her complaints, threatening to isolate her and labelling her requests for help as bigotry.
In a room of more than 60 women - mostly CAEFS directors, staffers and regional volunteers -her story was met with total silence. She was ushered from the room in tears. Once she was gone, comments began to buzz, such as: "I'm sorry for what happened to her, but you don't need a vagina to be a woman;" and "I am concerned about the transphobia in this room."
The discussion reverted to the need for transwomen's full support from CAEFS, as though the woman had not spoken at all. That day CAEFS adopted a blanket position of trans inclusion that, among other things, would come to mean supporting the transfer of any trans-identifying males from men's prisons to women's prisons. It was a pivotal moment of disillusionment for a number of CAEFS stakeholders. They withdrew and have consolidated themselves into a fledgling organization called Strength in Sisterhood, which deserves public support.
As the old saying goes: With friends like these, who needs enemies?