Jenn Smith: What LGBTQ+ Allies Need to Know

While myself and others in British Columbia’s LGBTQ+ community have been fighting against Jenn Smith’s dangerously transphobic ideas, his attacks on protections for queer and trans youth still seem to be flying under the radar of the general public - I have had many people express confusion when I mention him, because they don’t know what his ideas are, and consequently, they don’t understand the danger his ideas pose to LGBTQ+ youth.

Limiting the public availability of his ideas is actually one of Jenn’s strategies - it means that fewer people outside of his far-right audience know about his ideas. Jenn Smith is fully aware that if more of the general public knows what his intentions are, there would be more public opposition to his access to platforms from which he can fear-monger.

To remedy this lack of available information, I have compiled a brief and concise fact sheet that can be used to inform people both about his ideas and why they present a danger to queer and trans youth.

  • Jenn Smith’s main focus with his talks is on fighting British Columbia’s SOGI 123 policies, which is a set of policies aimed at helping LGBTQ+ youth feel safe and accepted in BC’s school system. Jenn Smith refers to SOGI 123 as “brainwashing” and “the destruction of parental rights”, parroting the Christian-right viewpoint that one’s religion should exempt oneself from LGBTQ+-inclusive policies. Jenn also believes that SOGI 123 is a proponent of “transgender ideology” (see next point) and that SOGI 123 is a tool of the sociopolitical left used to indoctrinate children into becoming queer and/or trans.

    • About SOGI 123:

      • SOGI 123 is a set of inclusivity-based recommendations built upon years of research on LGBTQ+ youth’s experiences in BC schools.

      • SOGI 123 was “created by ARC Foundation in collaboration with the BC Ministry of Education; BC Teachers’ Federation; school districts across BC; UBC Faculty of Education; education partners; and various local, national, and international LGBTQ+ community organizations”. (Under the “Who is behind SOGI 1 2 3?” heading)

      • SOGI 123 has been supported by over 60 religious leaders in an open letter to BC Minister of Education Rob Fleming.

      • All of the above points on SOGI 123 are sourced from the SOGI 123 website.

      • For further information on SOGI 123, you can find a factsheet written by the BC government here.

  • Jenn Smith is a believer in “transgender ideology”, as noted on his talking points. “Transgender ideology” (also called “gender ideology” or “transgenderism”) is a far-right buzzword that asserts that queerness and transness are ideologies being pushed onto children via inclusivity-based policies such as SOGI 123. It posits that LGBTQ+ adults are indoctrinating children into becoming queer and/or trans, taking hormone blockers, and mutilating their genitals, while also taking away parental rights to make choices about their childrens’ bodies.

    • “Transgender ideology” is a favoured talking point of right-wing figures such as Jordan Peterson and the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada.

    • The concept of “transgender ideology” is built upon the age-old argument that queer and trans people are sexual predators - an argument that has been utilized by the political-right to fight against queer people’s right to adopt, gender-neutral washrooms and changerooms, and other inclusivity-based policies.

    • The concept of “transgender ideology” has previously been examined and debunked by CBC and Contrapoints.

  • Jenn Smith is being sponsored by the Canadian Christian Lobby, an organization whose goals include dismantling SOGI 123 and propagating the idea that LGBTQ+ inclusive policies are proponents of “transgender ideology” (see above points).

  • Jenn Smith voluntarily associates with local white-supremacist chapters, specifically, Conrad Peach and the Soldiers of Odin.

    • Jenn Smith’s private security detail for his first event in Victoria was composed of Soldiers of Odin - an anti-immigrant, white-supremacist hate group with ties to neo-Nazi organizations.

      • Jenn later asserted that he didn’t know that they were SOO, as well as that he couldn’t have done anything about them being there as it was a public event. Whether he asked them to leave after finding out remains unknown.

    • When Jenn authored a Facebook post announcing his return to Victoria, Conrad Peach, a member of the Soldiers of Odin and a white supremacist local to Vancouver Island, commented on his post saying that he was attending and bringing friends. I made a Facebook post on May 31st criticizing Jenn’s silence on the matter, and he responded by authoring a press release a couple of days later asking the SOO to “stand down” and not attend his second Victoria event on June 2nd. We in the community remain suspicious that Jenn did not condemn white supremacist attendance before I had drawn attention to the matter.

      • Conrad Peach and other members of the Soldiers of Odin have been spotted at Jenn’s second Victoria event as well, giving evidence that what Jenn posts online is neither truthful nor reliable.

  • Jenn Smith’s own posts about his presentations are misleading and not factual - for example, under “talk points in brief” for his presentation he begins by asserting that “Transgender people are human beings deserving dignity and respect”, and further down he writes that “No hatred or disparagement of transgender people as human beings will be tolerated”. However, this is somewhat contradicted by him consistently and deliberately referring to a trans woman politician as “he” throughout his presentation, and stating multiple times that “A man can not be a woman”.

    • It has been well-documented that using chosen names and pronouns are correlated with better mental health outcomes in trans people, and Jenn’s usage of birth pronouns for trans people goes against many available published guidelines on how to treat trans people with respect.

    • Personal note: This may seem less relevant than the other points on this post, but I wish to bring attention to this disconnect between his eloquently written talking points and the reality of his presentations, and to point out that he lies about the contents and tone of his talks. This additionally supports my earlier point that he is intentionally limiting the public availability of his ideas, which as I have pointed out, are none too palatable.

To Summarize:

Jenn Smith is a right-wing ideologue, friend of anti-immigrant white-supremacist hate groups, and puppet of the Christian Canadian Lobby. His primary aim is to eliminate protections for LGBTQ+ youth in schools, and his secondary aim is to more broadly propagate the right-wing concept of “transgender ideology”. He uses common right-wing fear-mongering tactics combined with his own unsettling past to attempt to conjure a vision of a dystopian future in his audience members’ minds - one where LGBTQ+ people are indoctrinating children into becoming trans, putting them on hormone blockers, and mutilating their genitals. In reality, SOGI 123 is a modest set of proposals written by highly qualified professionals, who are responding to considerable amounts of research that conclude that LGBTQ+ children don’t feel safe in BC schools.

UPDATE — June 20, 2019: Jenn Smith has gone on to attempt to host identical events in New Westminster and Langley, both of which were booked until false or misleading pretenses (“Trinity Western says the event booking wasn’t clear, and the school cancelled it once they found out what the event was really about”, ““The description of the event for the booking was not forthcoming about the specific topic. As soon as we became aware of the nature of the booking, the booking was cancelled”, [Douglas College] spokesperson Regan Lal said in a statement”). The University of British Columbia has declined to cancel their hosting of Jenn Smith, to which Morgane Oger, Vice President of the BC NDP party wrote a post noting that events “held for the purposes of inciting hatred or discrimination on prohibited grounds are quite likely to run afoul of this code of conduct”. Additionally, the Association of Administration and Professional Staff at UBC (AAPS) released an open letter on behalf of nearly five thousand AAPS members who are employed by UBC encouraging Dr. Santa Ono, the President and Vice Chancellor of UBC, to reconsider allowing Jenn Smith to speak on UBC’s campus.

Counters to Common Pro-Police-At-Pride Refrains

The Hospitality Industry’s Anti-Sex Trafficking Training Harms More Than It Helps