Irreversible Courage: Abigail Shrier versus Cancel Culture
by Collin Wynter
Abigail Shrier does not shy away from controversy. From the release of her Times and Economist listed best seller, Irreversible Damage (2020), her work, as well as her personal self, have been under constant scrutiny and attack. A prime example is the modern day version of book burning which her published work has gone through. Both Amazon and Target removed the book from their seller’s lists for a period of time. This comes from pressure by social media trolls and LGBTQ* ‘activists’ because of their claims that she is a “transphobe” and “bigot”. The insidious attempts at defenestration and castigation is an attempt to discredit her and remove her from mainstream society indefinitely. Suggestive physical assaults on her person are also seen on social media such as Twitter. However, the constant torrent of abuse has done nothing to hinder her efforts at speaking up. No, that has not stopped Shrier. It has emboldened her.
After the release of her book, Shrier did the podcast circuit. Joe Rogan, Jordan Peterson, Dave Rubin, among others. I have listened to countless number of interviews with her. Not once have I heard her say anything bigoted or shameful. She always communicated with fact based and insightful commentary that elucidated upon the points made in her book. She has been questioned from every angle, multiple times, from some of the leading intellectuals of our day. They have intentionally sought out what would be considered points of weakness in her work. Each and every time she has been able to fend off the questions with easy to comprehend responses. She is not out to confuse or confound. She is seeking to clarify and shine light on the very serious issue of transitioning children, that is being driven via the transgender ideology movement. This is about the medicalization children. It is not about shaming people.
I read her book critically and I found nothing to indicate any form of transphobia. What I discovered, was a journalist with an insightful mind, tact for writing, and a tenacity of spirit willing to tread into areas of contention. There was no hate speech, but there was deep rooted concern.
Helen Dale, senior writer at Law Liberty, who is an Australian living in the United Kingdom, wrote a piece highlighting the tendentious topics outlined in Shrier’s work. Here are some of the topics highlighted: Gender dysphoria is real and is affecting many children; Kids are being transitioned based off of self assessment, rather than medical diagnosis; Co-morbidities are often involved and may be the underlying cause for the dysphoria rather than actually a desire to medically alter their body; That the large increase in the number of girls transitioning appears to be a trend similar to other disorders, such as anorexia.
Dr David Eberhard, a Swedish psychiatrist and author, noticed this move in the treatment of gender dysphoria. He is the author of The Gender Experiment. I had the pleasure to speak with him, and you can find that on my YouTube channel: The Collin Wynter Channel. The instances described in Shrier’s work are eerily similar what he and I discuss in relation to children and transgender ideology in Sweden.
Considering the deeply problematic situation that younger and younger children are now claiming to be transgender- whether that is from their own volition (highly unlikely), or from adult influence via indoctrination through educational materials, online cartoons, social media forums, and peer pressure (these being the more likely sources)- demands that this be discussed without censorship. Children are being prescribed pharmaceutical interventions along with surgical procedures with very little oversight, second opinions, watching and waiting, or long term studies. The lack of medical professionals to speak out against these methods is appalling. That an affirmation only model is the only tool available to children with gender dysphoria, supported by legal authority is shocking. Medical transition, especially for children, is a one way ticket. No, puberty blockers and hormone replacement theory is not reversible. They are irreversible at the present time.
Taking into account the physical and psychological trauma a person goes through to transition, coupled with the near continuous use of drugs and life long attachment to the medical industry, in the form of: counselling, injections, plastic surgeries, and endocrinological care, the question must be asked: Is it all worth it?
The extent to which one may go to transition may warrant an examination of the methods and procedures, with an investigation into any underlying causes of gender dysphoria. The underlying causes may be need to be treated instead of medically transitioning. And this is a directly pointed out by Shrier in her work. She questions transgender ideology and the immediacy of desire from gender clinicians to transition children claiming to be trans. There seems to be an effort to ignore the fact that these children have mental health issues associated with body dysmorphia, autism, and obsessive compulsive disorders. There is a need for more evidence based decisions.
Shrier is attempting to provide knowledge to the general public and parents affected by this trend. Her aim is to help them understand the situation at hand. And the best place to house such a document for public record, is obviously the library. Then why are members of the LGBTQ* community trying to get is banned at the Halifax Public Library?
Yes, some people had a difference of opinion. Instead of viewing Shrier’s work as a tome of knowledge, filled with statistical data, historical research, and contemporary interviews, they viewed is as a direct attack on their sense of being. To think such a thing would be such an obvious indictment that they had not read her work. However, in a CBC article, Chris Cochrane, vice-chair of Halifax Pride’s board of directors and transgender and non-binary committee lead, stated:
“[As a] trans person, I’m not going to debate my existence, and this book is definitely debating the existence of trans people,” Cochrane said Saturday.
The book does no such thing. As Debbie Hayton tweeted out in response to such drivel:
“No, Abigail Shier’s book does not debate our existence. Halifax Libraries are right to carry it, and we should all just ignore Halifax Pride’s little tantrum. My biggest concern here is with CBC News who have published this opinion piece as a new report.”
Hayton, an independent journalist among other things stated during her interview on Triggernometry “Trans women are men … including me”. So, you can see her common sense approach to dealing with the matter at hand.
This particular case involving the Halifax, Nova Scotia public library in Canada began with a petition calling for Shrier’s book to be removed from circulation. Beginning March 2021, two community petitions were received by the library. Mila McKay was the author of one of the petitions.
In a piece by True North, she is quoted as saying:
“I don’t believe the library should be a place of neutrality, and it should stand up to hate speech. I would like that book removed because I genuinely think it’s dangerous—which is a complicated thing to talk about when it comes to books,” said the petition creator Mila McKay.
“I’m not talking about censoring books. She can promote her book. She can continue to promote herself. It wouldn’t be silencing her. This isn’t a freedom of expression issue. This is an issue about a very dangerous narrative that can confuse parents by giving them unscientific information, and because of that, it can endanger the lives of trans youth.”
The statement is obviously contradictory, wherein McKay does not understand that a library is exactly the place where such materials must exist. That a library is the freedom of expression reified. That to claim Shrier is not being silenced by trying to enact the modern day version of book burning, ie: cancel culture, is ignorant. That somehow her book is providing unscientific information also points to her lack of understanding and the likelihood she has not bothered to read it. And finally, removing the book from the library would not stop there. This would just be the beginning.
After examining the Halifax Public Libraries’ Collection Development Policy and the Canadian Federation of Library Associations’ Statement on Intellectual Freedom the Halifax Public library decided to allow the book to remain on their shelves for public use, ie: they stood up against cancel culture and maintained the integrity of the Library’s institution as being a bastion for freedom of speech. They stated:
“Public libraries exist to provide equal access to resources for everyone and support individuals’ freedom to seek information and form their own opinions. When we act to suppress access, we engage in censorship.”
They did, however, engage in community consultation and “have come to understand more deeply the trauma that is disproportionately experienced by the trans community and to appreciate the community’s resilience in the face of transphobia.” They provide links to trans kids resources at the end of their statement: Supporting Trans Youth: Reading Resources for Parents.
Dace MacNeil, Halifax’s Library’s manager is quoted by True North as saying:
“While the author’s arguments and the research methods are questionable, and there is understandable concern that the advice provided in this book is not trans-affirming, the content does not constitute hate speech in the Canadian legal context,” said MacNeil.
“Supporting a collection that reflects a wide range of perspectives, including books that express views many of us take objection to, is the foundation of a public library and foundational to a democratic society.”
As you can see from the above, the Halifax public library did everything in their power to be accommodating by listening to the concerns of the public, review their own policies, and make a critically based judgement. Although, as it will be seen, it was not congruent with Halifax Pride’s demands.
Meanwhile, activism writing- or opinion journalism- is being substituted for investigative journalism at the CBC. In covering this story they began their perfunctory exposition with this emotionally charged quote: ‘This book is definitely debating the existence of trans people’, which is a direct attempt to try and shape the narrative of the audience’s attention. Instead of doing her due diligence, Hayley Ryan, the author of the piece, “Pride breaks with Halifax libraries after controversial book kept on shelves,” does not reach out to Shrier for comment. Nor does she review the book Irreversible Damage for insight. This is not fair and balanced reporting as CBC claims to be.
True North reached out to the CBC and enquired as to why Shrier was not reached for comment:
“There were no substantive edits to the original story and we did not reach out to the author because the piece was about Pride and the Halifax Public Library’s decision to keep the book on the shelves,” said Thompson.
However, as True North also points out that CBC’s Journalistic Standards and Practices state:
“We contribute to informed debate on issues that matter to Canadians by reflecting a diversity of opinion. Our content on all platforms presents a wide range of subject matter and views.”
“On issues of controversy, we ensure that divergent views are reflected respectfully, taking into account their relevance to the debate and how widely held these views are. We also ensure that they are represented over a reasonable period of time.”
However, Jacquie Gahagan, a professor of health promotion with Dalhousie University in Halifax was quoted in the CBC article as comparing Shrier’s work with “junk science”. In light of this libellous statement one would understand why Shrier should have been interviewed. By allowing a denigrating remark to be used against her without allowing for a response, demonstrates the desired perspective of the piece.
But we are talking about the CBC, which is no longer fair and balanced. Nor is it representative of Canadian culture, beliefs, or values. Instead, consider it a corporate entity mouthpiece for the Liberal Party of Canada (who are quite illiberal themselves), along with being the nominal purveyor of Woke journalism.
The article’s apparent focus is on Halifax Pride’s denouncement of the Halifax Public Library not acquiescing to their demands that the book be removed from their shelves. This is in spite of the fact, as noted above, the library held a community consultation and provided opportunity for middle ground. Instead, they “threw a tantrum” as Hayton noted. Halifax Pride removed all associations from the library in regard spot he 2021 Pride season, and threatened to not participate with them again until their policies are changed. This degree of bullying has become a common tactic within the LGBTQ* community, and is quite chilling.
In defence of Ryan, she does cite some statistics reported by StatsCan that present a dire outlook for trans persons in Canada in regards to their physical safety. She points out a highlight on their document that:
“Transgender Canadians are already more likely to report they have experienced violence since age 15, and more likely to have seriously contemplated suicide in their lifetimes. They were also more likely than Canadians who aren’t transgender to have been diagnosed with a mood or anxiety disorder.”
The use of trans persons’ medical needs in the CBC article has the effect of showing the requirement for discussion around transition. Instead of those statistics justifying the removal of Shrier’s work from the library, it has exactly the opposite effect. These statistics demand for her work to be public and accessible to everyone.
Pointing out the health needs for trans persons supports the need for more information about transgender individuals to be publicly disseminated and talked about in a professional atmosphere. Open and honestly. For example, StatsCan is not clear in is data collection methods- whether these statistics are being obtained from pre or post transitions. Or from what ‘type’ of trans person they are considering. As they state in the report:
“Accurately identifying the size of the transgender population can be complex. Because of the very personal nature of gender identity—and the fear of bias or discrimination on the basis of gender—people can experience discomfort and hesitation when asked their gender directly.”
However, even through all of this, Shrier did receive accolades of support on Twitter.
We The Females tweeted out that Halifax Pride seems only concerned about diversity when it assigns with their concepts, based off of superficial characteristics rather than diversity of thought.
The Canadian Sex Based Woman’ Rights group goes a step further and recommends people get in touch with the ombudsman to complain about the journalistic quality of Ryan’s piece.
Linda Blade, co-author of Unsporting, calls for the CBC to be more authentic in its journalism.
A more interesting quarrel was between Jonathan Kay, editor and podcaster for Quillete and National Post columnist, and Sarah B MacDonald, Assistant Dean of Schulich Law, and self described as a “Big Socialist”.
Shrier posted on Twitter about the two individuals who were attacking the Halifax Public library for carrying her book. MacDonald responded by claiming Shrier was denouncing their right to opinion. Kay rightfully pointed out that she was doing nothing of the sort. And in fact, that is exactly what MacDonald was doing.
As for Halifax Pride, their statement was a mix of ignorance, petulance, and obstinance. First, they claim that Shrier’s book “jeopardizes the safety of trans youth, through unsupported medical claims and the transphobic assertion that trans identities are a choice. ” But they do not quote any statements from her to support their assertions. Also, they “recognize their [the petition authors’] work and emotional labour in holding their own discussions with the library.”
The above statement ignores the obvious emotional labour Shrier has gone through. Not only in research def writing the book, but also standing against the constant barrage of verbal and online hate. Luckily, the Halifax Public library stood behind her work. Even if it had to listen to bullying comments, such as this:
“We expected feedback from trans individuals and a queer community partner to result in further reflection and a new course of action.”
And because of that:
“Halifax Pride has decided to end our partnership with the Halifax Public Library, including events planned for the 2021 festival, and will refrain from booking library spaces until this issue is addressed with some combination of internal review, policy change, and training.”
And like petulant children they no longer want to play. Denying partnership with the library until they acquiesce to the petitions’ demands, given additional weight from a supposed inclusive organization. What happened to the gay rights movement that was once about equal rights for the LGB population? It has been replaced with trans ideology and disclusive policies, backed by corporate sponsorship.
Halifax Pride finishes with this victimhoodology narrative:
“Halifax Public Library’s collection process is at odds with Halifax Pride’s commitment to protecting vulnerable members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community. We hope the Halifax Public Library will reconsider its stance and amend their policies to prioritize the health and safety of the public.”
In a final insult, they claim that the library is not prioritizing health and safety while blatantly ignoring the claims made in Shrier’s work about the efficacy surrounding medicalizing and transitioning children through the use of life altering pharmaceuticals and surgeries. This willful blindness cannot be chalked up to ignorance or stupidity. No, it is much more insidious.
Trans ideology has overtones of a religious like dogma. It is a blend of queer theory, socialism, social constructivism, deconstruction and a psychosis-like impulse towards obsessive navel gazing. The culmination of decades of philosophical thought now being applied to social justice.
Once a domain for a select few individuals who truly needed transition to cure their dysphoria, trans ideology is now being used by medical professionals to perform unnecessary medical experiments on children. In the LGBTQ* community, the LGB is being silenced or required to acquiesce to the T & Q’s demands. Proposed “self ID” of gender, is allowing men into women’s spaces. They have used the gay rights movement as an inroad into society and continue to manipulate both members of the community and those sympathetic to it. It is like a blindfold has been put over common sense, and people walk around blindly accusing every pole they bump into as being an intentional obstruction in their attempt to navigate life. Luckily, we have Shrier, among others, who are willing to take the blindfold off and show people the outcomes ahead if we keep walking down a path such as this.