The campaign to remove a book from a Halifax library

The book is Irreversible Damage by author Abigain Shrier (Ed spoke to her last year). To say the book is controversial would be underselling it by an order of magnitude. Today, Shrier wrote a piece for Bari Weiss blog about the the pushback against the book.

The book is mine  Irreversible Damage — and it is an investigation of a medical mystery: Why is the number of teenage girls requesting (and obtaining) gender reassignment skyrocketing in the United States, Canada, Scandinavia and Europe? In Great Britain, it’s up 4,400% over the last decade…

The book is not about whether trans people exist. They do. And it is not about adults who elect to medically transition genders. As I have stated endlessly in public interviews and in Senate testimony, I fully support medical transition for mature adults and believe that transgender individuals should live openly without fear or stigma.

Yet since publication, I have faced fierce opposition — not just to the ideas presented, challenged, or explored — but to the publication of the book itself. A top lawyer for the ACLU called for it to be banned. Powerful organizations like GLAAD have lobbied against it and pressured corporations — Target and Amazon among others — to remove Irreversible Damage from their virtual shelves.

Last week the book was receiving some attention on social media after Dr. Harriet Hall, a family physician, wrote a favorable review of it for a group blog. After the blog was flooded with complaints from activists, the editors demanded that Dr. Hall either retract the review or allow them to add a disclaimer. The blog wound up retracting the piece against Dr. Hall’s wishes and replacing it with an editor’s note saying the piece had not been censored:

Our review of the article in question and the decision to retract was entirely internally generated by the editors.

Further, any attempts at portraying this retraction as censorship are also false. This has nothing to do with silencing opinions or perspectives, but rather is entirely a matter of quality control. SBM is first and foremost about high quality scientific evidence and reasoning to inform medical issues, and we felt the article in question was below the minimal acceptable standard for SBM.

Now activists are trying to do the same thing with a public library in Halifax, Nova Scotia that decided to carry two copies of the book. Halifax Pride has cut ties with the library because of it.

Halifax Pride, the annual LGBTQ festival, announced late last month that it would cut ties with the city’s library system over its insistence on carrying Irreversible Damage, calling it “transphobic,” and claiming that it “jeopardizes the safety of trans youth” and “debates the existence of trans people.”

So far, the Halifax Public Libraries have resisted. Their position is straightforward and apolitical: libraries exist to expose the public to the widest array of views, “including those which may be regarded as unorthodox or unpopular with the majority.”

That seems like a pretty clear line but of course liberalism is out of fashion on the left. In fact, deplatforming is now considered almost mandatory behavior for anyone who calls themselves a left-wing activist. Shrier says there are 146 people in line to check out the book but they may not get the chance if the library caves in to the activist’s demands. The good news is that so far they have not.