Toronto Public Library Collaborators Condemn TPL's Decision On Meghan Murphy Talk
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On Oct. 29, 2019, Meghan Murphy is slated to speak at the library’s Palmerston branch for “Gender Identity: What Does It Mean For Society, the Law, and Women?,” a ticketed event held by Radical Feminists Unite - Toronto.
Murphy is noted for her transphobic, anti-sex worker views. She has been permanently banned from Twitter for violating its Hateful Conduct Policy with deliberately invalidating rhetoric and targeted misgendering towards transgender communities. The Feminist Current editor has profited over her hateful tweets, by selling their messages on apparel.
Trans advocates, sex workers and LGBTQ groups across Canada and around the world have repeatedly condemned Murphy’s public appearances, including a similarly-themed talk held at the Vancouver Public Library’s central branch in January. Although VPL stated they did not endorse the speaker’s views, it was widely seen as amplifying the platform of a public figure’s promotion of hate towards marginalized people; one group told Global News that the talk “promotes fear, discrimination, and hatred toward trans people and sex workers.” Next month she will continue to speak at an event hosted by an organization called #GIDYVR that sells explicitly transphobic merch.
Other organizations have ended their associations with Murphy after public backlash, including her former employer Rabble. Local and nation-wide organizations Black Lives Matter - Toronto, Maggies, Butterfly, No More Silence, TransPride Toronto, Shameless Magazine, No One Is Illegal Toronto, and the Toronto Trans Alliance have all denounced Murphy.
In response to concerns raised by writer Megan Jones over the event at Palmerston — concerns backed by the speaker’s demonstrated unwillingness to recant and prior talks by Murphy, like that at VPL — the Toronto Public Library’s official statement is that the organization believes the event does not violate its community rental policy.
We the undersigned strongly disagree with this stance. We are Toronto residents who have regularly rented space from TPL branches, to foster artistic, technological, and community development with the public; we are artists, writers, and scientific innovators dedicated to imagining diverse and inclusive futures for our city, by providing workshops and presenting talks in partnership with TPL; we are believers in TPL’s mission to provide free and equitable access to services, as well its stated dedication to equity. To us, TPL’s position goes against everything we believe in what TPL has done and provided for the city’s most underserved.
We urge TPL to reconsider their stance on the rental request made by Radical Feminists Unite - Toronto. An event about gender featuring a transphobic, whorephobic speaker will undoubtedly result in spreading messages that invalidate and encourage further marginalization of transgender Torontonians. This likelihood for transphobia falls under TPL’s rental policy for denial of space:
i. use by any individual or group will be for a purpose that is likely to promote, or would have the effect of promoting discrimination, contempt or hatred for any group or person on the basis of race, ethnic origin, place of origin, citizenship, colour, ancestry, language, creed (religion), age, sex, gender identity, gender expression, marital status, family status, sexual orientation, disability, political affiliation, membership in a union or staff association, receipt of public assistance, level of literacy or any other similar factor;
As regular users of TPL, we ask that the library interrogate their complicity in Murphy’s career made off of scapegoating particularly trans women, a group that is disproportionately at risk of bias-driven discrimination, sexual abuse, assault and murder. TPL will be allowing an event to spread misinformation about trans women, from a speaker that has and will profit off false, misleading statements meant to mock this sector of the population.
Should TPL sustain their decision, those of us current collaborators will continue to condemn this and all other instances where transphobia persists in the library. This will be a factor for many of us when deciding whether or not we collaborate with TPL in the future. This will be raised as a continued concern for future partnerships by those of us who regularly rent space, as well as those of us who teach in TPL branches.
Dr. Jenny Ferguson
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