Today RSM members were alerted to the presence of a transphobic rally that was taking place on the University of British Columbia’s campus. The transphobic “rally” consisted of two lone bigots who held a banner reading “God made us male and female. Say no to fake transgender ideology!” Despite no planning or preparation, we quickly mobilized our supporters in the hopes of shutting down this disgusting display of hatred. Initially, the counter-demonstration was disorganized and spontaneous with no clear message or unity. Some students argued that we should be willing to debate with the reactionaries in an attempt to change their minds, while others suggested we simply ignore them in the hopes that they would go away. Members of RSM and its supporters argued for a different approach: a complete and total rejection of transphobia and a push to de-platform these bigots and get them off our campus.
Reactionaries like the ones present today, who religiously defend their transphobia, cannot be debated with, nor can we simply ignore them and hope they will go away. Their aim is to promote reactionary ideas and incite hatred and violence against those who identify as transgender. They use attempts at debate to legitimize their intolerant views and hide behind “free-speech” so they can freely spew their transphobic non-sense. Not only this, but allowing these reactionaries a platform to speak serves to only put trans people in danger. This transphobic rhetoric starts by simply saying “trans identity is not real”, but the natural extension of this line of thinking ends with the notion that “trans people must be forced to not exist”. Therefore, propagation of these ideas almost always leads to violent attacks against trans people.
In response to these conflicting ideas regarding the counter-protest, RSM members engaged in struggle with other protesters, pushing for a counter-demonstration which sought to totally de-platform the transphobes. Despite some reservations by a few individuals, this line of de-platforming quickly gained traction and soon the counter-protest had a clear direction, a goal, greater organization, and unity around our complete rejection of transphobes on our campus.
After some last deliberations, action was finally intiated when an LGBT student took up the call and began chanting against the transphobes. Members of RSM along with other students quickly joined in and surrounded the two bigots, raising rainbow flags to block out the transphobic signs and propaganda. Students chanted loudly “Transphobes Go Home!” and “Trans Rights Are Human Rights!” effectively preventing the reactionaries from being able to spread their transphobic rhetoric. Soon they were unable to distribute their leaflets or talk to anyone, as they were totally blocked off by the counter-protestors. It was not long after the counter-demonstration got organized that the two bigots were forced to leave campus with their tails between their legs, leaving to the cheers of students calling for them to go home and not come back. The result of the transphobes being forced to leave after being unable to spread their message proves that de-platforming is an effective method with achievable results. To push back against reaction, we must do so by any means necessary. We must be militant and unwavering in our commitment to rejecting transphobia on our campus.
Despite our success, we wish to also highlight what we feel is another important point in this matter: UBC administration did nothing to protect trans students on campus. These bigots were able to protest almost all day on campus, unhindered by UBC. Not only this, but UBC was actively aware that these individuals were coming to campus and assigned them multiple campus security guards, along with two police officers, to protect them from the justified anger of students. Only through the militant actions of students was this transphobic “rally” shut down. We aim to highlight the clear hypocrisy of the UBC administration and expose their phony inclusivity as being only a marketing tool in an effort to capitalize on gaining favour amongst the LGBT community. The irony of UBC claiming to support trans students while simultaneously allowing and coordinating with transphobes to come to campus is not lost on us, nor other students. UBC, like all other education institutions in Canada, is in service to the capitalist class and is concerned primarily with developing new capitalists and promoting capitalist ideology. Its faux-support for LGBT students shows us as clear as day that it is not concerned with students’ safety, but rather only with its perception as being inclusive.
Today students learned that we must take matters into our own hands when it comes to protecting ourselves and other students from marginalized groups on campus. We cannot rely on university administration to adequately deal with hate speech and protect its student body. Instead, today we saw a glimpse of what students can accomplish when they are organized and militant in their rejection of intolerance and reactionary ideas.