Halifax's "geek, nerd and pop culture" convention will no longer host events at local libraries as the city's library system refuses to pull an "anti-trans" book from shelves.
Hal-Con, which hosts an annual convention and year-round events in Halifax, released a statement today that said Halifax Public Libraries must take "concrete action to affirm and protect gender minorities."
Earlier this year, Halifax Public Libraries acquired Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters by Los Angeles journalist Abigail Shrier.
According to the book’s own description, it covers how some young girls come out as transgender for a boost in “social status” but end up regretting their transition and their changed bodies.
In May, Mila McKay started a petition calling on the Halifax Public Libraries to remove "anti-trans hate" from its shelves.
In their petition, McKay — who identifies as transgender and non-binary — said the book quotes academics who push an agenda disguised as a scholarly study and never actually speak to the children experiencing gender dysphoria.
Halifax Public Libraries released a statement on May 27 that said it would not remove the book as free access to information and ideas is a democratic right of every citizen. It also said public libraries exist to offer equal access to resources and that suppressing access is censorship.
However, McKay said in their petition that removing the book isn't censorship as they're not calling on Halifax Public Libraries to block access to the book through the Internet.
They also said it's not the library's job to host every single book in the world. They said the Halifax Public Libraries only hosts around 1 million books out of more than 130 million books worldwide.
"It’s not up for debate: trans and gender-diverse identities are valid and worthy of affirmation," Hal-Con's statement reads. "Any organizations we enter into a partnership with need to share these basic values."
Last month, Halifax Pride also released a statement that said it was ending its relationship with Halifax Public Libraries until there was "some combination of internal review, policy change and training."
At least one writer, award-winning YA novelist Tom Ryan, said he’d also cancel his upcoming library-sponsored presentation out of concern for 2SLGBTQ+ teens.
The book has also sparked outrage in other parts of North America.
Elm Klemic, an Ottawa parent of four children including one who’s gender non-conforming, sent a letter to the Canadian capital’s public library in March regarding the same issue.
I sent this letter to Ottawa Public Library along with 204 signatures about the transphobic book "Irreversible Damage" by Abigail Shrier in their circulation. Their response is attached. Selecting material is NOT neutral and "intellectual freedom" is different than hate speech. pic.twitter.com/u2oe98JKiy— Elm Klemic (@placenta_pi) March 19, 2021
Dozens of Amazon employees also backed an internal complaint in April about the company offering the book on its digital shelves — a market that's vital for book publishers.
The Seattle Times reported the complaint argued the book violates Amazon's policy against selling books “that frame LGBTQ+ identity as a mental illness.”
But on April 23, Amazon’s director of book content risk and quality announced on an internal message board that the company would continue selling the book.
According to a Statistics Canada 2018 study, transgender Canadians are more likely to report they have experienced violence since age 15 and more likely to have seriously contemplated suicide in their lifetimes.
The study was shared in a report which was released last September by the Canadian Centre for Justice and Community Safety Statistics. It said they were also more likely than Canadians who aren't transgender to have been diagnosed with a mood or anxiety disorder.