Transgender activists at the University of Toronto disrupted a free speech rally for a professor under fire for refusing to address a student with gender neutral pronouns.
University of Toronto professor Jordan Petersen has come under fire for his criticism of a new bill that would make it illegal to address someone by anything other than their preferred pronouns.
Petersen angered several community members after releasing a presentation entitled, “Professor against political correctness,” in which he condemned a new bill that could potentially punish individuals who accidentally or intentionally “misgender” others.
Petersen opposes Bill C-16, which would redefine the way in which the Canadian government handles harassment and discrimination. If passed, individuals who are accused of refusing to embrace an individual’s gender identity could be punished under the law.
Peterson opposes Bill C-16, introduced in May by the Liberal government, which would amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code to prohibit harassment and discrimination based on “gender identity and gender expression.”
Ontario passed similar legislation in 2012. According to a 2014 Ontario Human Rights Commission policy document, “Gender identity is each person’s internal and individual experience of gender. It is their sense of being a woman, a man, both, neither, or anywhere along the gender spectrum.”
Gender expression is how a “person publicly presents their gender,” which can include dress, hair, makeup and preferred pronouns, the commission says.
The bill targets discriminatory practices against trans people in housing and the workforce, but Peterson believes that it would also prohibit the simple refusal to use someone’s preferred pronouns.
At a free speech rally that took place on October 11, Professor Petersen called for an upholding of the free speech regulations that allow us to “keep our society functioning.”
“The changes of the law scare me because they put into the legal substructure of the culture certain assumptions about basic human nature that, not only I believe to be untrue, but they’re also dangerous and ideologically motivated,” Peterson said.
Protesters blared white noise to drown out the voices of those there to support free speech policies on campus.
Despite dozens of video accounts of the rally, student government officials claimed in a Facebook statement that transgender students were “assaulted” at the rally.
“It is unacceptable for the Campus Police to fail in their responsibility to keep students safe from violence on campus, and specifically against trans students,” the statement said.
“An investigation by the administration—to which students have no access—will not be sufficient,” the Facebook statement continued.
Despite no evidence of violence against transgender students who attended the rally, one transgender student was caught on camera lunging at conservative commentator Lauren Southern, who was reporting at the rally for The Rebel.
Southern claimed that she “was pushed around at the rally in a stunning display of ‘peaceful protest’ and ‘honesty’ from the far left.”
Tom Ciccotta is a libertarian who writes about Free Speech and Intellectual Diversity for Breitbart. You can follow him on Twitter @tciccotta or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org