Brad Dirks. (Contributed)

Opposition to anti-SOGI event

Brad Dirks is dismayed that transgender speaker Jenn Smith is giving a talk in Maple Ridge

A person who self-identifies as transgender will be giving a talk at a private facility in Maple Ridge on the dangers of transgender ideology and how the school resource SOGI 123 is “brainwashing” children.

Jenn Smith will be holding the presentation called SOGI 123 and the Assault on Women, Children and Free Speech: A Transgender Perspective at Colleen Findlay Place on Mar. 30.

SOGI 123 is a resource for educators in school districts across the province intended to establish inclusive environments for students of all sexual orientations and gender identities that came into place three years ago.

Smith has billed the Maple Ridge event, online, as a respectful discussion that is not designed to disparage transgender people and, “no hatred or disparagement of transgender people as human beings will be tolerated.”

The presentation will examine, “the logical, educational, moral, financial, and democratic failings of modern transgender ideology, and how it endangers women, children, and free speech.”

Some of Smith’s talking points: mental health issues in the trans community and how it is “our most vulnerable youths that are falling for transgender ideology”; how SOGI 123 is brainwashing students and threatening the privacy and sports of girls in school; the destruction of parental rights and “an exploration of related totalitarian laws”, that he believes are being used by the state to allow children to transition against their parents’ wishes; how he believes that current transgender activism and laws are threatening free speech and democracy.

Smith was unavailable for comment.

Brad Dirks, with the group B.C. Families for Inclusivity, is dismayed that Smith is being allowed a venue to share what he calls misinformation about trans and LGBTQ people.

Dirks said Smith makes it seem like children are being indoctrinated or harmed.

The Maple Ridge event follows a B.C. Human Rights Tribunal judgment Wednesday in favour of Vancouver trans activist Morgane Oger, who launched a complaint in 2017 against William Whatcott, a self-described Christian activist who created and distributed flyers while Oger was running as an NDP candidate, with disparaging comments on her trans identity.

Dirks is the father of a transgender son. It was sometime towards the end of Grade 8 and the summer before he entered Grade 9 that he went to his parents with “confusing” feelings.

“He was going through the beginnings of puberty and noticing that there was something wrong,” said Dirks.

So they took him to see a counsellor, who indicated that his gender didn’t align with the sex he was assigned at birth.

His son was referred to B.C. Children’s Hospital, where he went through an assessment process with doctors and a psychologist and they came to the realization that he was transgender.

He started socially transitioning at the beginning of Grade 9.

Dirks became an advocate for trans children when a group came forward in their community of Langley called Culture Guard, which opposed SOGI 123 in the school curriculum, “basically saying that they did not want my son acknowledged or treated with dignity in school.”

At the age of 14, all people in the province have the right to make their own medical choices, explained Dirks.

For those transitioning, a 14-year-old could take puberty blockers or start testosterone, under the guidance of doctors and their psychologist when they have finished the assessment process.

Children are not medically transitioned, Dirks said, they are socially transitioned to allow them to dress and have their appearance be how they are comfortable.

At 16, there are more options.

Dirks said the Oger decision will have an impact on what Smith will be able to talk about.

“That really set a precedent that you can have freedom of expression and freedom of religion, but you can’t use those two things to target other people in a hateful way,” he said.

Shannon Moens with the Colleen Findlay Foundation was unable to provide details about the people and groups who rent the space.

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