"You're Going to Make Kids Commit Suicide" — A Histrionic Round Table in Edmonton
No, throwing a temper tantrum doesn't make you right.
Yesterday I attended a “2SLGBTQQIA+” stakeholder roundtable discussion in Edmonton hosted by Tanya Fir, Minister of Arts, Culture and Status of Women regarding Premier Danielle Smith’s proposed policies addressing youth transition. I was joined by my friends Lois Cardinal, James Decker, and Jason Brandick.
I’m not exactly sure why I expected a somewhat respectable and calm conversation. I know how unhinged gender activists can get, but I guess I supposed that, in person and in a government building discussing potential government policy, there might be some decorum. What I got was Twitter/X in real life.
I do not mean to paint everyone who attended on the opposing side with the same brush. They have every right for their voices and experiences to be heard. It was very interesting to see and hear people making their arguments in real life rather than online. I don’t have hard feelings for them just because they think differently from me.
But I was shocked by the rudeness, entitlement, emotional immaturity, and attempts at emotional manipulation that I witnessed. I somehow naively thought that would remain online, but it was all in full force and on full display.
Those in opposition constantly invoked the harm that the policies would do to kids—and I believe that they truly believe that, and they have their reasons for believing that. But they took it one step further: they consistently invoked the specter of dead children. At least two of the participants cried when expressing how the policies were going to lead kids to suicide.
This was a drum beat incessantly by Kristopher Wells, an Associate Professor at MacEwan University. At one point, he went off on a tirade against the minister, his voice growing louder and louder. I would say one could easily interpret it as yelling. He was berating Fir about how she would be personally responsible for kids’ deaths.
I requested to speak and, when it was my turn, I told the minister that it was emotionally manipulative, abusive, and disgusting to lay dead children at her feet and at the feet of the Premier. Wells leaned out and told me I could say that directly to him, so I did. He then proceeded to try to argue with me and I told him very firmly that it was my turn to speak. I elaborated on the fact that it was highly irresponsible to tell children, especially children already struggling with mental health issues at disproportionate rates, that their Premier and their government hate them and want them dead.
Wells monopolized the conversation during the entire roundtable and requested to speak multiple times, as he was perfectly well allowed to do. But every time he spoke, he disrespectfully went on for very long periods. At the very end of the roundtable, when he was asked to keep it short, as two more people from his own side were still requesting to speak, he ate up the last 10 minutes and they did not get their final chance.
One of his final “points” was that there is a consensus on gender-affirming care (this was right after I had gone through the list of countries that have walked back their affirmative care model after a review, including Finland, Sweden, France, the UK), and that it was dangerous to question the consensus. Yes, Kristopher Wells is a proponent of the tyranny of the mob. After all, we know the way that science and medicine work is by never, ever questioning consensus.
I was strongly reminded of activist lawyer Barbara Findlay at the hearing of New Westminster nurse Amy Hamm insisting that “there is no debate here. Here, the debate is settled,” also in reference to gender-affirming care for young people in Canada.
Another important point to note is that Rob Browatzke, owner of the Edmonton gay bar Evolution Wonderlounge, recorded the whole discussion. He had his phone pointed at whoever was speaking at the time. This was meant to be a private, closed-door meeting. Media told us before the meeting that they had asked for access but were not allowed in. Browatzke never asked permission nor even had the courtesy to notify us. He never spoke, he was there only to record.
As for my contributions to the round table, I was able to chime in three times with very specific and focused points, and I would be surprised if I ever spoke for more than two or three minutes at a time. It was obvious that 90 minutes was not going to be enough to give everyone the time they deserved as there were about 12 of us there. I wanted to be heard, yes, especially after traveling three hours away to get there (and you can bet there was a lot I wanted to say and address), but I did not see this as The Eva Show and as an opportunity to pontificate as Wells so clearly did.
When the discussion was over, everyone on the other side rushed out of the room to speak to the media downstairs while we stayed behind to thank the minister for hosting and having us. She was very kind and patient throughout the whole debacle of a roundtable and I liked her instantly.
We went down and Jason and I eventually got to speak to the media as well. I was pleasantly surprised at the questions they were asking and felt like I was able to articulate in very short sound bites why I supported the policies. When prompted, I also said that, sure, the other side deserves to be listened to as well. We all do.
We started back home and, on the way, we discovered that Wells had complained on X about how we had been “imported” from Calgary for the meeting and insinuated that we had been paid. In reality, we all had to clear our schedules for a whole day to be able to take part in the roundtable. I had to relinquish some writing work to be able to make it. In short, I lost money. Not to mention the price of gas!
Later in the day, the media pieces started rolling in. The Edmonton Journal did a good job representing my comments even though they oddly said I “identify” as a lesbian (I don’t identify as one, I am one.)
Eva Kurilova, a Calgary-based writer who identifies as a lesbian, told reporters she was invited to consult with the premier in November on the issue, and was again invited to Edmonton Tuesday.
She supports the government’s plan, saying as a gender-non-conforming child, if she had been presented with the chance to transition she would have.
“I’m in my 30s. I would love to have a child and I’ve been trying, and I really shudder at the thought that that would have been stolen from me,” Kurilova said, adding that those opposed to the policies deserve to be heard as well.
Global News, however, did me very dirty. The only clip they aired in a two-minute segment giving voice to the people who were there against the policies was, ironically, of me saying that they also deserve to be heard and have a voice.
Naturally, I complained about it on X.
To my shock, Global actually replied:
In the meantime, Lois found a CTV clip that I was very happy with and that also shows me talking about being a gender non-conforming child and wanting children now.
When we watched the 11 p.m. news, we saw that Global had indeed added more of my comments into their segment. I still can’t believe that calling them out on X actually worked! Then I went over to City News Edmonton and found that they had what in my opinion was the best clip of the day.
All in all, it was a surreal experience—and it messed with my mind a bit too. Being so outnumbered at the roundtable felt very alienating. It truly felt like we were such a tiny minority in the face of the all-encompassing, totalizing “2SLGBTQQIA+.” And, in truth, as far as it comes to those who are vocal on this issue, we are.
But there are so many people out there who agree with us and who are happy that we are doing what we are doing. I remembered you, my readers and supporters, and it reminded me why I was doing this.
And trust me, it wasn’t easy. Every time I was going to speak, whether at the roundtable or to the media, my heart was beating so hard I thought I was going to have a heart attack. It’s not that I cared one bit what any of those who support the atrocities of “gender-affirming care” think of me. It’s just that this kind of stuff does not come easily or naturally to me. But I force myself to do it because it is important.
Don’t get me wrong: I was thrilled to take part in the roundtable! It was an amazing learning experience and speaking with people who disagree with me in real life rather than just online was also informative and enlightening. Yes, there were histrionics—but we were able to come together and tolerate being in the same room as each other and talk. Maybe it’s sad to say, but that feels huge.
Though I think that what the other side is fighting for harms children just as strongly as they think the same about me, I did not and would not accuse them of actively wanting to do so. And I wouldn’t dream of blaming them for children’s deaths. I only wish they would extend us the same grace.
But that’s okay, because things are changing. We have a government here that gets it and is listening. Whatever happens politically and legislatively, Danielle Smith has accelerated this very important conversation, and I couldn’t be more thankful.
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