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Manufacturing Authority: The Case of Aaron Holly Devor

by felicia rembrandt


Back in 1989 when she was still a lesbian and a young PhD student at the University of Washington, about to begin her teaching career at the University of Victoria, Holly Devor picked up a contract to teach inmates at a men’s prison. Most of them were convicted sex offenders. She enjoyed the experience, and described how she “made it a priority that they understand how feminist propositions offer them both increased adaptability in a changing world and increased freedom from the restrictions of their own gender roles” (Abbotsford News, Sept. 13, 1989).


She told the newspaper that “We raise men in our society to be ignorant of the lives of women” and “men have few legitimately masculine ways to learn to understand women and sexual offences are one result of that state of affairs. I believe that much masculine hatred and fear of women comes from men’s need of feminine acceptance and their concomitant vulnerability to rejection by women.” She concluded that men had to learn to be more responsible for their own emotional lives.


Jump forward to 2003 and Devor (now renamed Aaron) is described by Victoria Times Colonist columnist and Globe and Mail correspondent Vivian Smith as “ happy to conform to a conservative image more typical of men who run $3-million enterprises: Striding into his spare, elegant office, Mr. Devor projects confidence and control. He wears a dark grey suit and black tie with a blue shirt just over-large enough to hide any shape that might suggest he was once a woman... In the manner of men used to commanding space, even at 5-feet-6, his hand gestures are expansive, the right leg crosses the left widely when he sits, he shrugs his shoulders loosely. Aaron Devor is a man in full, if not in anatomy.


This description is stunningly sexist – so much so that we have to wonder what cave Smith was sleeping in through the 80s and 90s, those decades in which women thundered into Canadian universities to occupy as many seats as men, led men in starting up businesses, and entered all the professions. But maybe Devor herself was projecting this sexist image for all she was worth. After all she was claiming to be a man based on masculine stereotypes like these. Maybe Smith was just overwhelmed by the Devor’s “will to power.”


Image: Screenshot Aaron Devor

Leaving aside the sexism, we have to wonder what changed for Devor in the intervening 14 years – aside from getting married (to another woman) and converting to Judaism.


In 1995 she expressed approval of cross-dressing, calling it “healthy”. When it is suppressed, “the result is male shame”. By this time, she would rather see “masculine” and “feminine” as innate genders, with cross dressers expressing both genders together, rather than look for at cross-dressing as a symptom of a psychological disorder (Van Sun, Aug 19, 1995).


In 1996 Devor described pedophiles as “ideal teachers” because they are people who “understand children, who know what children want, who know how to relate to them on their own level” (Victoria Times Colonist Sept. 7, 1996). She comes close to blaming their victims when she says they are often needy children who may give in to some adult demands to get the love and attention they crave.


By 1997 Devor was weighing in on the medical treatment of people born with ambiguous genitalia. She deplored the practice of surgically altering such children based on the size of the phallus, to make them more clearly male or female. She was already claiming that scientists were confronting the idea that “there can be more than two sexes, more than two genders.” “What we should celebrate,” she said “is that there is a whole spectrum of human diversity – a splendor of genders, a rainbow of genders” (Vancouver Sun, April 7, 1997).

In these comments over a span of a few years, Devor is following what is becoming a discernable and predictable path for gender ideologists. It involves approving of (male) sexual kink, sympathizing with pedophiles, and extrapolating from people with disorders of sexual development to the general population.


She’s also on record that year [1997] for not wanting to eliminate masculine and feminine gender roles, but only to add a lot of other options (Times Colonist Jan 10, 1997) .“I have become convinced that not only can men and women live in bodies of any sex but that we go against reality when we insist there are only two sexes and two genders,” she said in a public lecture at the University of Victoria.


Perhaps her change of position is best exemplified by the two books she wrote prior to “becoming a man”. In 1989 Gender Blending: Confronting the Limits of Duality compiled the experiences of 25 women who were regularly mistaken for men. Then In 1997 FTM –Female to Male Transsexuals in Society consisted of interviews with 45 trans men – women who had mistaken themselves for men. Only the latter has been reprinted (in 2014).


In 1999 Devor went to work for the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association -- which later became the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) -- as coauthor of its standards of care (SOC). She has continued her association ever since, and also joined the research committee of the Canadian Professional Association for Transgender Health (CPATH) in 2014.


Lisa MacRichards has written extensively on WPATH. In her article for Canadian Gender Report in 2019, she wrote:


WPATH is not the typical professional organization that develops clinical practice guidelines. WPATH is a hybrid professional and activist organization, where activists have become voting members and have served as president. In fact, it can be argued that WPATH is activist-led rather than evidence-led, as witnessed at their conferences. Their guidelines are just following what is being performed in gender clinics based on informed consent.


Not only that, but members of the WPATH SOC Committee revealed massive conflicts of interests.


When looking at the WPATH committee who worked on the current SOC document [2011], a cursory examination of the members reveals that every one of the members have significant COIs. All of them either receive income based on recommendations in the guidelines, work at clinics or universities who receive funds from advocacy groups, foundations, or pharmaceutical companies who heavily favour a certain treatment paradigm, or have received grants and published papers or research in transgender care.


As Chair of Transgender Studies and owner of the Transgender Archives, Devor’s career is dependent on a large and growing population of “transgender” people. The conflict of interest is obvious.


Jennifer (James) Pritzker


WPATH is funded by prominent trans activist Jennifer (James) Pritzker, a member of the powerful and influential American family of billionaires and politicians. Pritzker, a former colonel in the US Army, founded the acquisitions company Squadron Capital in 2012. Squadron invests in a handful of medical tech companies. Jennifer Bilek has done extensive research on the funders (and founders) of the gender industry. She has written of Pritzker:


Once a family man and a decorated member of the armed forces, Jennifer Pritzker now identifies as transgender. He has made transgenderism a high note in philanthropic funding through his Tawani Foundation. He is one of the largest contributors to transgender causes and, with his family, an enormous influence in the rapid institutionalization of transgenderism.


Some of the organizations Jennifer owns and funds are especially noteworthy to examining the rapid induction of transgender ideology into medical, legal and educational institutions. Pritzker owns Squadron Capital, an acquisitions corporation, with a focus on medical technology, medical devices, and orthopedic implants, and the Tawani Foundation, a philanthropic organization with a grants focus on Gender & Human Sexuality.


Thus, already in Pritzker’s employ since 1999 and immersed in gender ideology through her work with WPATH, Devor finally petitioned her employer, the University of Victoria (UVic), to create a Chair of Transgender Studies. She had a million dollars in her back pocket to seal the deal. The media reported:


The position emerged largely from the efforts of Devor himself [sic]. As a gender non-conforming person, he has always been interested in gender. “I saw the need for [the position],” he said. “I set out to make it happen . . . [and put] a proposal before the Senate and the Board of Governors.”


Devor said that UVic proved to be very welcoming and supportive of the proposal for a new Chair, and he faced no trouble while trying to establish this position. “When [the proposal] came before the Senate [on Oct. 2 last year] . . . the vote went through unanimously in support. And there was a very big round of applause, followed by [President Jamie Cassels] making some lovely comments . . . You couldn’t get a better experience.”


The chair was funded by Pritzker’s Tawani Foundation, to the tune of $1 million, with a further million available through matching funds. With that kind of money on offer, it’s not surprising UVic was pleased.


In 2016 Devor was named the first Chair in Transgender Studies. Sitting beside her at the official opening ceremony was her near neighbour, New Democratic Party (NDP) Member of Parliament (MP) Randall Garrison, architect of Bill C16, which added gender identity and gender expression to the Canadian Human Rights Act the following year.


One of the regular marketing activities of the chair is hosting a biennial Moving Trans History Forward conference which has been running since 2014. Devor hired Martine Rothblatt, millionaire trans-identified man and proponent of transhumanism as her featured speaker in 2016, and followed that up by awarding him an honorary degree


Some believe that transgenderism is only a stepping stone to transhumanism, in which human brains will eventually be housed in robotic bodies. With transgender ideology we are encouraged to dissociate from our bodies and see them as products we are free to cut up as we wish. It’s notable that a “transgender woman” is the world’s leading proponent of transhumanism.


The Chair’s website says its work is fostering research and scholarship in Transgender Studies

  • Encouraging both existing and new scholars to pursue careers in Transgender Studies and building local, national and international linkages with others working in Transgender Studies

  • Hosting visiting academic and community scholars

  • Proactive community outreach and knowledge mobilization

  • Teaching and mentoring related to the area of Transgender Studies

  • Assisting faculty to integrate Transgender Studies content into their courses

  • Subject matter expert of the Transgender Archives

  • Fundraising in support of the Chair in Transgender Studies and the Transgender Archives

In other words, if the money flowing north across the Canada/US border can be visualized as a pipeline, Devor functions as a shower head, sprinkling money and influence to water the gender ideology field in Canada through community outreach, fundraising, propaganda and networking. Her CV, available online, details media appearances all over the country. Even the tiniest references to her are included. Through the MTHF conferences, in particular, she is grooming the next generation of Canadian trans+ leaders.



And so, step-by-step, credibility and authority are manufactured. A woman working for a lobby group calling itself a medical association, funded by a man who calls himself a woman and is financially invested in the medical equipment sector, is eventually handed a million dollars by the same man to get set up as a highly prestigious chair at a university – instant credibility.


Devor has attracted substantial government support from Canadian governments on the strength of the credibility created as Chair of Transgender Studies at UVic. Her online CV shows that her average grant amounts jumped from five figures to six in 2014 -- from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRCC), The Vancouver Foundation, The BC Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction (SPDR), the Silver Gummy Foundation and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).


Research & Teaching Grants Received


2020-2025 SSHRC Insight Grant Collaborator, “The LGBTQ+ Oral History Digital Collaboratory: 2.0” - $303,381.


2020-2023 Silver Gummy Foundation Grant. Co-Principle Applicant, “Trans+ People in Forced Labour in Canada.” - $197,100.


2020-2022 BC Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction Grant. Principal Applicant “Improving labour market participation for Trans+ people.” - $200,000 (see #1 footnote below).


2020-2021 CIHR Operating Grant: COVID-19 May 2020 Rapid Research. Co-Applicant, “The COVID-19 Pandemic Among Sexual and Gender Marginalized Populations in Canada: Physical Distancing Impacts,SARS-CoV-2 Seroprevalence, and Health and Wellness Needs.” - $661,542 (see #2 footnote below)


In 2019 she appeared before the senate committee to speak about putting males in women’s prisons. After referencing her experience of 30 years earlier, she speaks of her happiness that men are being placed in women’s prisons. As for the women?


What I hear is that we need to protect women in the prisons — cisgender women in the prisons, non-trans women in the prisons — many of whom have histories of abuse by men, sexual assault by men, and that they will be triggered and fearful if someone comes into the prison as an inmate who appears to them to be a man. I completely agree that we need to take that very seriously, and there are ways to take that seriously without throwing those trans women into a prison where they will be raped and physically assaulted. Trans inmates are no more likely to violate cisgender women in women's prisons than any other people in those prisons, and we have procedures in place to deal with those who do violate. [italics mine]


What she is saying is that women violate each other as much and to the same degree as men violate women. Among all the forms of denial embodied in this statement, Devor ignores

former Deputy Commissioner for Women, Kelly Blanchette,[who] reported that of all transfer requests from men’s prisons, 50 percent came from sex offenders who offended as men. 50 percent! This number overrepresents sex offenders who account for 20 percent of the male prison population overall.


After a lifetime of apologizing for men, Devor has at last come to giving them free rights to prey on captive women.


In 2003, she told Vivian Smith there was only one thing preventing life as a man from being completely happy, and that was : “He [sic] will miss the intimate friendships women have in which they talk about their feelings openly…’That's a big price to pay’." It seems in the intervening years she has learned to stop listening to them.


Devor is arguably among the most prominent gender activists in Canada. Might it be fair to wonder if she was groomed by two “sugar daddies”, Rothblatt and Pritzker, to be a female voice for the gender industry?


The billionaires pushing gender ideology wear their breasts like others wear branded t-shirts – to promote their product, which in this case includes poisonous drugs, hormones and increasing varieties of surgeries to create manufactured “men” and “women”.


Devor’s beard accomplishes pretty much the same thing.


This year Devor’s contract as Chair was renewed for another five years, and she was given an award by the University of Minnesota. Ho hum – thus the machine keeps churning out certificates of ersatz authority on ersatz identities with very real consequences on the material reality of women and children. All to ensure the very real profits keep rolling in.



Footnotes:


1. Both BC and Canadian governments make public records of their spending via open-access websites. I have been unable to confirm this grant from government records. There is a record only of a grant for just under $45,000


2. An access to information request produced a government record only for a $50,000 grant.


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