Press Release by Jenn Smith:
Abstract (short version):
Transgender public speaker and activist Jenn Smith, whose talk at the University of British Columbia resulted in UBC being banned from this year’s Pride Parade (based on false allegations of “hate speech”), has filed a complaint with the BC Human Rights Tribunal against Facebook Inc for discriminating against him, silencing him, and suspending service based on his spiritually informed beliefs regarding gender identity. Smith’s complaint, submitted on September 12, claims Facebook’s censorship policies not only interfere in the democratic process by unfairly favoring one side of legitimate debates on important issues (constituting political tampering), but also unfairly discriminate against people who do not share mainstream interpretations of gender identity and who may have deeply held spiritual beliefs that reject the idea that sex can be changed.
Smith charges Facebook with turning the communication of fundamental shared truths and spiritual beliefs into “hate speech,” which demonizes and penalizes people for not believing, for instance, that men can become women. Smith is transgender and of course supports the right of people to be so, but he believes gender is purely in the mind and constitutes a form of expression, but that asserting anybody can change sex and should be treated as the opposite sex legally is contrary to common sense and the natural order of the Universe.
Smith argues, “I have a moral and spiritual obligation to not only remain tethered to knowable, testable physical reality — which I believe was created by a Divine power — but I also have a duty and a right to speak and defend the truth as I see it. Facebook is unfairly discriminating against me based on my sincere beliefs about gender identity. I have put enormous time and energy into building my Facebook account, contacts and networks, and to find myself continually censored, suspended, harassed and denied service because of my sincere beliefs constitutes an egregious form of discrimination.”
Jenn Smith’s Detailed Explanation:
“First of all people need to understand that social media companies, particularly Facebook, have become enormously powerful in terms of the ability to manipulate public opinion. Facebook has 2.4 billion users worldwide and 19 million in Canada, which is over half the population and constitutes approximately 75% of the voting population. That is enormous and almost frightening power, and we cannot allow it to be wielded arbitrarily and to viciously silence “wrong think” and hence control public debate, nor should they be penalizing people and denying them service because of their spiritual/religious beliefs. If somebody does not like what a person is saying they can simply block that person and never have to see their words again. This solution is not enough for Facebook however, they appear to want to control what people talk about and how.”
“Social media has become a public square for people to communicate and it is where people go to meet, discuss, and organize. People such as myself will dedicate enormous amounts of time and even money into developing their profiles and presence on social media. Facebook also provides an advertising service and they cannot deny that service in BC on prohibited grounds.”
“Furthermore, Facebook arbitrarily shutting down one side of important debates constitutes a form of powerful political tampering. I am a political activist trying to affect change and Facebook censoring me based on my beliefs interferes in the political process in Canada by allowing my opposition to continue talking to 19 million Canadians while I am silenced, typically at key times. Facebook has ten times as many Canadian users as the circulation of Canada’s top ten newspapers combined. That constitutes enormous influence and reach; to grant one side of a debate access while denying another should be considered a virtually criminal form of tampering with the political and social landscape of Canada. Imagine if we had a television station refusing to allow any Conservatives to speak. This is akin to what we have going on with Facebook now, they are tampering with public opinion and politics. In my case it is even worse because they are prohibiting me from speaking fundamental shared truths that link in with my spiritual beliefs which are protected under “religious” rights and freedom of conscience. When you have corporations controlling mass information and forbidding the speaking of reality, that is positively Orwellian.”
“Facebook is now just as powerful as newspapers in terms of being a source of information and influence. They are actually even more powerful because they have a real time ability to interfere and shut down discussions as they occur and control what information people get. Groups of people are coming together on social media in large numbers and discussing important things that affect society; Facebook is pulling people out of those debates (including political figures such as myself) and saying, “sorry we don’t like your ideas so we are no longer going to let you speak or advertise.”
“Freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and freedom of religion are all under assault by Social Media providers such as Facebook. This is not merely an issue of a private company doing what they want, Facebook has become a powerful agent and are now actually shaping public opinion, and they are using that power in discriminatory ways that silence me and interfere with my right to be treated the same as others. ”
“I believe gender identity is in the mind and my gender identity conforms with physical reality, and yet Facebook is discriminating against me based on my identity and my spiritual beliefs in this regard. I state that males cannot be females and they deem this as “hate speech” and suspend my account for it, but the charge is ridiculous and seems to be driven by an ideological agenda. They are prohibiting me from expressing my deeply held beliefs and actually shaming me for saying men cannot be women. While others are allowed to express themselves freely using a service available to the general public, I am silenced and harassed on a regular basis. ”
“Facebook has targeted me with a campaign of discrimination that has harmed my reputation, insulted my dignity, and significantly injured me at key moments of organizing.”
“What Facebook falsely calls “hate” is actually my firmly held spiritual belief that God has encoded male and female into the cells of our body and thus it cannot be changed nor should we deny the reality of it, particularly when it contributes to the undermining of women’s rights (as the Jessica Yaniv case illustrated) and young children being confused into transitioning (huge numbers of vulnerable children are changing genders and going on to use toxic medications to change their appearance). This unjust and biased discrimination must stop.”
Media can contact Jenn using the contact form: https://transanityca.wordpress.com/contact/
Smith is also preparing to give his controversial talk “Erosion of Freedom: How Transgender Politics in School and Society is Undermining Our Freedom and Harming Women & Children,” in Chilliwack on Sunday September 29 at 6:30. This is the talk that resulted in the University of British Columbia being ejected from this year’s Pride Parade.