Parent calls on Ottawa Public Library to remove controversial book about transgender youth
An Ottawa parent is asking the Ottawa Public Library to remove a book they say is misguided and hateful towards transgender people.
Elm Klemic is a parent of four.
“My six-year-old has told us since age three that they’re not a boy or a girl and they present themselves as pretty gender non-conforming,” they tell CTV News Ottawa.
Klemic is supportive their child. They say a book at the Ottawa Public Library titled “Irreversible Damage: The Trans Gender Craze Seducing Our Daughters” builds its ideology on hate speech directed at transgender people, particularly trans youth and has the potential to cause great harm.
They sent a letter to the Ottawa Public Library in March, asking it to remove the book from its shelves.
I sent this letter to Ottawa Public Library along with 204 signatures about the transphobic book "Irreversible Damage" by Abigail Shrier in their circulation. Their response is attached. Selecting material is NOT neutral and "intellectual freedom" is different than hate speech. pic.twitter.com/u2oe98JKiy— Elm Klemic (@placenta_pi) March 19, 2021
“As somebody who identifies within the trans spectrum and as somebody who has a trans child as well, it hit close to home and I was really outraged about it,” Klemic tells CTV News Ottawa. “The main theory in this book is that trans youth don’t know themselves, and can’t, shouldn’t be allowed to transition.”
Klemic is concerned anyone who picks up the book may treat it as a resource.
“The harm is that parents of gender-questioning or trans children pick up this book—parents, friends, family—and they treat their children differently.”
Katie Gibbs is an Ottawa mom of a trans child too.
“We work really hard to make sure that our daughter is affirmed in who she is,” Gibbs said.
Gibbs also wants to see the book removed.
However, the Ottawa Public Library is defending the book being among its shelves.
“We have a lot of unpopular books that people will disagree with; that’s what a library is full of, different viewpoints,” says Ann Archer, Program Manager content services with the Ottawa Public Library.
Archer says they have investigated the complaint and the book won’t be removed.
The OPL says the book comes from an authoritative publisher, it was chosen as one of the top books of 2020 by The Economist and there is public demand for it.
“Six different individuals of the Ottawa public who use the library had requested that we purchase this book,” Archer said.
She adds that there are currently more than thirty users on a waitlist for the book.
“There needs to be a legal reason at this point to remove the book. We don’t remove it because people don’t like it. There’s something to offend everyone in the library.”
“I’m not an expert on which books should be included in libraries but, I will say, I think it’s a book that could create a lot of harm, if people weren’t aware of the background,” says Dr. Jack Turban.
Turban is a fellow in child and adolescent psychiatry at Stanford University School of Medicine. He says the book comes from a conservative political publisher and is entirely based on interviewing parents of transgender youth without speaking to the children.
“The book really flies in the face of what most major medical organizations would suggest, in terms of how parents should take care of their transgender kids,” Turban says.
The library says its decision not to remove a book can be appealed.
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