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  • Toni Vonk with Maureen Sullivan

Faery Tales: Wisdom2Action's Million Dollar Deception

by Toni Vonk with Maureen Sullivan



Trans rights activists complain about public backlash; mainstream media continues to ignore women's rights and child safety concerns.


Fae Johnstone on pushing possibilities for queer and trans health

In early January, a prominent trans-femme-non-binary-identifying 2SLGBTQI+ activist and “white settler from a middle-class family” who sports she/they pronouns, told Global News: “It’s never been as scary out there as it is right now.”


Fae Johnstone, executive director of Wisdom2Action consulting firm, who last December was called out for delivering a keynote address at Durham College on the 33rd anniversary of the Montreal Massacre, wasn’t referring to fear of deadly violence committed against girls and women because they are female. Johnstone was referring to the fear he’d experienced when a lone woman stood up in an audience to voice her objections to his appropriation of the podium.


Then on January 19, 2023, Johnstone made front-page Ottawa news when he led a coalition of 36 community groups in a failed attempt to ban Dr. Jordan B. Peterson from speaking to thousands of tax-and-ticket-paying citizens at the Canadian Tire Centre (home of the Ottawa Senators). Four days later, Peterson announced that seating had been expanded at the NHL venue to accommodate a surge in ticket sales. (The presence of a total of zero protestors at the CTC on the night of Peterson’s appearance also provided a good comedic kick-off to the evening.)


Front page of the Ottawa Citizen, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023

These back-to-back failures of Johnstone to achieve his intended outcome – exaltation for his success in supplanting women and muzzling truth tellers – are good indicators that his mission is faltering. If Peterson’s messages about the importance of living responsibly offend Johnstone and his posse so, they must really hate the doctor’s orders to identify and avoid authoritarian overreach.


But identifying and avoiding such overreach has become challenging for Canadians, particularly when federal funds are supporting projects that are meant to confuse them.


Consultancies and organizations like Johnstone’s are now established across the country, financially supported by programs like the federal government's $100 million 2SLGBTQI+ Action Plan.


The plan, jointly announced in August 2022 with significant fanfare by the Prime Minister and the Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth, is described as “a whole-of-government approach to achieve a future where everyone in Canada is truly free to be who they are and love who they love.


Canadians have been free to love whoever they want for decades. Marriage between same-sex individuals was legalized 18 years ago. So how much about the LGB is this program, actually?


Bookending the “LGB” acronym with a half dozen other letters, numbers and symbols represents the forced-teaming manoeuvre of the modern rainbow movement – a deception tactic that leverages collective guilt over how lesbian, gay and bi-sexual citizens were treated historically. So, now, should one ask a question about any of the sub-groups represented in the unpronounceable acronym, one risks being publicly branded a homophobe, transphobe, misogynist, bigot, hater.


Key areas and activities receiving funding under the federal action plan include:

● prioritizing and sustaining 2SLGBTQI+ community action and advocacy;

● placing the ‘2S’ to represent Two-Spirit people at the front of the 2SLGBTQI+ acronym; and

● advancing and strengthening 2SLGBTQI+ rights by building on the criminalization of conversion therapy.


Wisdom2Action itself has received $1.1 million in federal funding over the past three years, including nearly $100K in 2022 from the Department of Justice to “develop education and information resources and materials regarding Canada’s new conversion therapy-related offenses.”


It would seem that Johnstone’s organization is being rewarded for its support of the Bill C-4 amendments to the Criminal Code.


The convoluted conversion therapy bill which was unanimously passed by Parliament in December 2021 will criminalize therapists who try to address the psychological or emotional underpinnings of gender-confused or traumatized children rather than immediately provide them “gender-affirming care.”


Several youth-focused organizations, including Canadian Gender Report, Detrans Canada and Gender Dysphoria Alliance Canada, pointed out that this law, in practice, will result in the forcible conversion of youth who are same-sex attracted into medicalized, surgically disfigured and sexually dysfunctional “transgender” humans. In effect, Canadian gender doctors are now legally obliged to “trans the gay away” in children who would otherwise mature into healthy gay or lesbian adults (i.e. “convert” them). But this likely outcome was entirely ignored in the Wisdom2Action statement to Parliament regarding the proposed ban, even while several other submissions and witnesses identified and warned Parliamentarians of this likelihood.


Then there is the component of the federal action plan that aims to “Embed 2SLGBTQI+ issues in the work of the Government of Canada by ensuring coordinated action to advance 2SLGBTQI+ priorities across federal government organizations.”


Under this component, as reported in the 2021 Wisdom2Action Annual Report, Johnstone has been delivering seminars and workshops to federal public servants on trans inclusivity and eliminating microaggressions in the workplace. An attendee of one of Johnstone’s indoctrination sessions reported that he announced to the participants that “all trans women are beautiful” and that a prime example of a workplace microaggression was to refer to a woman as “young lady.”


Another section of the 2021 Wisdom2Action Annual Report shines a light on the organization’s attempts to demoralize women who are fighting the claw-back of their sex-based rights:


“In response to growing anti-trans organizing in Canada, due in part to increased organizing by Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists (TERFs), Wisdom2Action worked with feminist partner organizations across Canada to develop a public statement reiterating the feminist movement’s commitment to trans inclusion and trans liberation, which can be viewed here. With more than 50 organizations signed on, this statement was a clear denunciation of TERF rhetoric, and signals a significant shift towards trans inclusive feminist organizing in Canada.”


“TERF” is internationally regarded as a derogatory term, a misogynistic slur typically launched at women by abusive and aggressive males who are angered when women deny them the privilege of entering their private spaces, stealing their prizes, or taking over their work and activities. Wisdom2Action deceives its audience when it swaps out the common understanding of what feminism is (the advocacy of women's rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes) with the misleading term, “trans inclusive feminist organizing.” The correct interpretation of Johnstone’s brand of feminism is one that advocates for the right of men to pretend to be women so they may help themselves to the gains and protections for which women fought so hard for over a century.


It’s astonishing that our government, which so frequently recites its anti-bullying/anti-hate mantra, continues to provide funds to an organization that mischaracterizes, appropriates and slurs a segment of the Canadian population that is desperately trying to hold on to its Charter rights.


Which brings us to the January 8 Global News program wherein Johnstone and his drag queen co-panelist waxed on about the “hate” their community had endured in 2022.


In spite of the millions of dollars supporting the establishment of numerous upstart LGBTQ organizations across Canada (even as the country faces dire economic consequences of the pandemic), more Canadians are cottoning on to the hoodwinks played on them over the past eight years.


Women who are critical of the march of gender though society and its institutions continue to find each other. As they assemble and organize, emboldened individuals and groups are increasingly willing to take the personal risk of standing up and speaking out against the injustices and dangers of allowing men like Fae Johnstone to commandeer our language, our political movements and our female condition.

Fae on display, at a conference of the International Association of Youth Mental Health, 2015

One such organization is Canadian Women’s Sex-Based Rights (caWsbar). Since 2019, caWsbar has been raising public awareness of the dangers and harms to women and children that have come to pass since Trudeau pulled Bill C16 out of his hat immediately upon his election – a bill that nobody asked for and that was not part of the 2015 Liberal platform.


This is the same bill that Jordan B. Peterson said would result in compelled speech (it has) and that Meghan Murphy said would lead to the erasure of women’s rights (happening).


In response to Johnstone’s Global News appearance that obfuscates and ignores these concerns, caWsbar sent the letter below to the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC). caWsbar is asking for a seat at the table.


Will the CBSC take it upon itself to correct the absence of concerned women’s perspectives regarding gender in our main-stream media?


Until it does, Gender Dissent will continue to publish stories that reveal our resistance.


_______________________________________________________________



January 31, 2023



Ms. Sylvie Courtemanche

Director, Canadian Broadcast Standards Council

45 R O’Connor Street

Suite 770

Ottawa ON K1P 1A4


Dear Ms. Courtemanche,


We are a grassroots, non-partisan, and quickly growing, coalition of women and male allies from across Canada working together to preserve the sex-based rights and protections of women and girls, as enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Section 15). Among our diverse yet united coalition are teachers, nurses, humanitarian workers, small business owners, elite athletic coaches, formerly incarcerated women, and mothers and grandmothers who all want to ensure that these Charter rights are enforced.


We understand and assert that a woman is an adult female human and of the sex class that ovulates and bears children. According to the Government of Canada sex refers to biological characteristics, such as male, female or intersex.


On January 8, 2023, Global News aired a program entitled The West Block, a weekly talk show on Canadian political and social events hosted by Mercedes Stephenson.


During the second segment of the show, dedicated to “surging anti-LGBTQ political rhetoric,” defamatory remarks directed at Canadian women’s rights advocates were made by Stephenson and her guests. No effort was made to provide evidence or an alternative point of view to their claims of rising hatred against the LGBTQ community.


The following is a link to the show. (The segment in question begins at 11:05.)



The show featured guests Kyne Santos, a drag queen performer, and Fae Johnstone, a transgender-identifying rights advocate and executive director of the Wisdom2Action consultancy firm.


During the 11-minute segment, the word “hate” was uttered 15 times – nine times by Stephenson – and was used to characterize the motivation of Canadians who believe the rights and protections of women and girls must be preserved.


The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines hate as “feelings of intense hostility, extreme dislike or disgust.” Given this definition, it appears that viewers of the show were to understand that any disagreement they may have with the comments or position of the host and the panelists is “hate,” and that attempting to advocate for women’s sex-based rights is hateful.


Through this broadcast, featuring one panelist who impersonates women and another who prefers she/they pronouns, Global News denied the women represented by caWsbar the opportunity to explain how women’s rights are in conflict with the rights of the panelists on the show.


Describing women as hateful for peacefully and lawfully defending their Charter rights is utterly irresponsible broadcasting. This latest form of sexism must be addressed and denounced.


The Canadian Broadcasting Act declares that the broadcasting system should safeguard, enrich and strengthen our cultural, political, social and economic fabric. It says that Canadian programming should provide a balance of information and it is to provide opportunity for the public to be exposed to the expression of differing views on matters of public concern.


We have a differing view. And the safety, security and dignity of women and children is a matter of public concern.


Further, the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ Code of Ethics cautions that women’s human rights must be upheld in broadcasters’ programming as follows:


Clause 2 – Human Rights

Recognizing that every person has the right to full and equal recognition and to enjoy certain fundamental rights and freedoms, broadcasters shall ensure that their programming contains no abusive or unduly discriminatory material or comment which is based on matters of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status or physical or mental disability.


The Canadian public expects unbiased news commentary. At the very least, viewers expect to be presented with a balanced panel representing both sides of an issue.


Below we reference two instances where the word “hate” was used in the broadcast and why we consider its use egregious when used in the context of women defending their sex-based rights.


Example #1:

Fae Johnstone: The hate “comes from homophobes and transphobes … from folks who see our communities and want to roll back our rights.”


The host did not ask Johnstone specifically who these allegedly hateful individuals are. The viewer is left to conclude that anyone who points out the conflict of rights between females and trans-identifying males is a homophobe and/or a transphobe.


None of the women with whom caWsbar works to peacefully advocate for the protection of women’s sex-based rights -- in prisons, change rooms and washrooms, sports, or any other place where women fought for privacy and single-sex accommodation -- can be characterized as homophobic. Indeed, many in our network are themselves lesbians, and as a coalition, we vigorously support the right of same-sex attracted women to set sex-based boundaries.


Example #2:

Fae Johnstone: “...you know that there is a risk that somebody will show up and that hate will shift from a virtual context to an in-person horrifying and terrifying experience... I have never been as worried as I am right now about the future of 2SLBGTQ rights and acceptance in this country. And I’ve been doing this work as a queer and trans advocate for a decade. It’s never been as scary out there as it is right now.”


Of course, someone’s fear of online trolling turning into in-person violence is a valid concern, but no statistics were provided to back up Johnstone’s allegations.


The following information, however, is readily found on Statistics Canada’s website:


From 2011 to 2020, 65 hate crimes targeting gender identities other than male or female were reported by police. In 2020, there was a decline of 5 incidents compared to the previous year. Even though the overall number is small relative to some other hate crime categories, incidents motivated by hatred of gender diverse people were more often violent in nature, with 80% of incidents involving a violent violation.


Over the same 10-year time period, 74 hate crimes motivated by hatred of women and girls were reported by police. The majority (51 incidents) occurred in the last three years (22 incidents in 2018, 15 in 2019 and 14 in 2020), and the majority of all incidents targeting women or girls (66%) were violent in nature.

Police-reported hate crime in Canada, 2020


In 2022, Statistics Canada reported:


The 423 hate crimes targeting sexual orientation rose above the previous peak of 265 in 2019. About 8 in 10 (77%) of these crimes specifically targeted the gay and lesbian community, while the remainder targeted the bisexual orientation (2%) and other sexual orientations, such as asexual, pansexual or other non-heterosexual orientations (11%).


A chart embedded in the report displays a 64% increase in hate crime targeting sexual orientation from 2019 to 2020, whereas hate crime motivated by other factors, including “gender,” were down by 1% over the previous year.


The conflation of violence against transgender-identifying persons with violence targeting homosexuals, which includes women, is confusing. And it becomes indecipherable when the Department of Justice conflates sex and gender by defining a woman as anyone who identifies as such. Perhaps these challenges in comprehending our own government’s statistics was why Stephenson and her guests avoided providing any at all.


This segment was recorded in December 2022. Global News had an opportunity to add context to this interview. Producers could have inserted graphics or referenced a report to provide evidence of its guests’ assertion that things are “getting worse for queer folks” in Canada. However, they failed to do so, possibly out of negligence or perhaps even malice toward women who speak up about their rights.

Had there been representation on the panel by a woman, lesbian or straight, to address these accusations of increased hate crimes against the LGBTQ community, we would have taken the opportunity to explain why there is concern and pushback from the women’s rights movement against the “T” component of the ever-growing acronym.


We would have discussed the current unfairness in allowing males into female sports competition; the inhumane practice of housing male offenders in women’s prisons; and the lack of safety, privacy and religious accommodation in women’s public facilities and domestic violence shelters that are now wide open to any male who self-declares as a woman.


Most importantly, we would have explained how protecting women’s sex-based rights and asking legitimate questions about public policy that affects women and children is not -- and should never be defined as -- “hate.”


People best formulate their opinions when they are exposed to all sides of an issue. In this circumstance, Canadian viewers were denied the opportunity. This broadcast was discriminatory and insulting to the women across Canada who hold valid concerns about the erosion of their dignity and bodily security as a result of public policy that ignores their sex-based rights and protections which are guaranteed under the Charter.


caWsbar requests a seat at the table. We want an apology and an opportunity to air our concerns and perspective on The West Block.


We thank you in advance for reading this letter and considering the information contained herein. We look forward to your response at your earliest opportunity.


Sincerely,


Esme Vee

Founding Member Canadian Women’s Sex-Based Rights

_________________________________________________


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