Education - UWA Cancels Transgender Skeptic Talk
The University of Western Australia is citing safety concerns in cancelling a scheduled appearance by a US academic known for denying the science around transgender people.
"Transgender is actually a delusional disorder," said paediatrician Dr. Quentin Van Meter in the past. "It's a state of mind with no biologic basis for it that can be found." Mainstream science does not support Van Meter's view.
Nevertheless, the Australian Family Association (AFA) invited Van Meter to its event on the UWA campus on Friday night. But student groups got wind of the talk and more than 6,000 students signed a petition calling for the appearance to be cancelled. University officials feared protests.
"We have been advised the risk surrounding the event has been elevated to a higher level, which mandates a more robust event management plan," the university said in a statement. But the organizers were "unable to provide the requested information to meet the venue hire conditions", resulting in the cancellation of the talk.
The US Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights watchdog that keeps track of threats from the far-right fringes, considers Dr. Van Meter's American College of Paediatricians (ACPeds) to be a hate group. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) wrote that ACPeds is a fringe group that has acted to promote "unscientific and harmful 'reparative therapies' for LGBTQ students. Legitimate researchers have complained that ACPeds quotes research out of context to promote its far-right agenda.
Despite its title, which sounds suspiciously like the legitimate American Academy of Paediatrics, ACPeds does not operate as a medical association. It is a conservative social issues group that harangues against women's reproductive rights, same-sex marriage, gender reassignment, and premarital sex.
An AFA spokeswoman said, "We are disturbed at the denial of freedom of speech in a place of academic learning."