Self-appointed library monitors

Someone is shocked and hurt in Halifax.

“Shocked and hurt” is how Alicia Frederick says she felt when she learned about a new book purchased by Halifax Public Libraries.

Public libraries buy a lot of books. It’s not really a worthwhile project to try to monitor their purchases for what makes you, Random Person, shocked and hurt. Libraries don’t and can’t filter their acquisition process according to what might possibly make someone feel shocked and hurt.

The library currently owns two copies of the book by Abigail Shrier, called Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters. As of this writing, 21 people have it on hold. The book’s description on the library website says:

Unsuspecting parents are awakening to find their daughters in thrall to hip trans YouTube stars and “gender-affirming” educators.

We’re supposed to think that’s stupid and wrong. Go take another look at “Elliot” Page to see how stupid and wrong it isn’t.

On March 17, Nicole Nascimento, another mother of a trans child, expressed concern about the book in a Facebook post, and linked to a letter* written by Elm Klemic, who had addressed it to the Ottawa Public Library, asking that library to not include the book in its collection.

The letter says that the book “has the potential to cause great harm.” It cites statistics on the high levels of harassment and violence trans youth report, as well as the alarming percentage of those who have made at least one suicide attempt.

The usual nonsense, in short, along with the obligatory threat of suicide which, as mental health professionals keep pointing out, is considered very bad practice because it promotes suicidal ideation. But hey, trans activism trumps all the rules.

Now that the library has put the book into circulation, Nascimento said in a message to the Examiner that she was “concerned.” She wrote, “It surprises me that our library would carry a book that would risk the lives of trans youth simply for the sake of intellectual freedom. It is incredibly irresponsible, especially given the fact that the book in question has little to no scientific ground to stand on.”

The book doesn’t exist “simply for the sake of intellectual freedom.” Shrier wrote it to say something that needs to be said. It’s a substantive book with a substantive argument, and that’s why she wrote it and the publisher published it and Halifax readers are requesting it from the library.

Earlier this week, Mila McKay launched a new online petition calling on the library to remove the book from its collection. The petition says, “Transgender Identity is not a choice, a Craze, or a Fad” and that the inclusion of the book in the library’s collection has “increased ease of access to parents and other adults who work with youth who may believe the hateful messages in the book and subsequently act in ways that endanger trans children.”

But Mila McKay doesn’t know that trans identity is not a choice or a craze or a fad. How could she know that? Does she have infallible insight into the minds of all people who identify as trans? How could anybody know what she claims to know?

McKay, a trans/non-binary anti-poverty activist and sociology student at Mount Saint Vincent University, said in an interview she was “very angry” about the library’s decision. She does not think the book should be censored — but that removal from the library collection does not constitute censorship. It “isn’t stopping [Shrier] from selling her book or publishing her book… There are all kinds of books [Halifax Public Libraries] don’t shelve. They don’t buy just any book. So why this book?”

Who put her him them in charge of what books Halifax library adds to its shelves? Why this trans/non-binary anti-poverty activist and sociology student?

10 Responses to “Self-appointed library monitors”