Opposing activist groups face off over transgender issues in Downtown Vancouver

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      Activists both against and in support of transgender inclusion held demonstrations in Downtown Vancouver on Saturday.

      The Step Up Speak Up Freedom Rally (also referred to as Stand Up and Speak Up) was held on June 15 in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery on Robson Street. The event claimed to be in support of parental rights and freedom of speech.

      The Langley-based Parents United Canada (which was launched by Kari Simpson, who also founded the anti–SOGI 123 group Culture Guard) stated on social media that it organized the rally in response to a B.C. Supreme Court ruling in February that a 14-year-old transgender boy can receive hormone injections to transition without parental consent. His father and mother are separated and share joint custody. While the mother supported the transition, the father objected.

      Then in April, the B.C. Supreme Court granted the boy a restraining order to stop the father from trying to convince the teenager from pursuing treatment, to prevent the father from using his son’s birth name and gender pronouns, and to prohibit the father from conducting media interviews and publishing information about his child with groups such as Culture Guard.

      In response to the Vancouver rally, LGBT activists and allies, including the Coalition Against Trans Antagonism which organized the Rally to End Anti-Trans Tyranny, also attended to counter-protest.

      Transgender activist Morgane Oger was also in attendance and was reported to have argued with conservative Christian blogger and anti–SOGI activist Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson.

      Vancouver police did not report any major incidents and there weren’t any arrests made.

      Vancouver city councillor Sarah Kirby-Yung expressed her dismay on social media about the anti–SOGI sentiment that was on display at the rally.


      In other recent news, controversial anti–SOGI speaker Jenn Smith, who had been drawing protests while touring Vancouver Island with talks about concerns regarding “transgender ideology”, had two events cancelled, one at New Westminster’s Douglas College and another at Langley’s Trinity Western University, due to concerns about the nature of the bookings.

      However, UBC confirmed to the Georgia Straight on June 10 that Smith’s talk at the Point Grey campus on June 23 will be permitted to proceed as UBC provost Andrew Szeri stated that “the university is committed to upholding free speech on campus".

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook. You can also follow the Straight's LGBT coverage on Twitter at @StraightLGBT or on Facebook.