In the wake of these events and instances of ignorance and prejudice, people are often left feeling alone, isolated and hopeless. It can feel like no one is fighting back, however in this case people have come together to do exactly that. Right away, people responded to Peterson’s comments and banded together for support. One example of this was the rally and teach-in that was organized by trans and non-binary students at the University of Toronto as well as other activists.
The purpose of this teach-in and rally was not only to show solidarity against Peterson’s comments, but also to educate students and the community on trans and non-binary issues and the Bill-C16. Speakers addressed human rights in general, as well as ways in which they were personally affected by Peterson’s comments. Amongst the hundred other people that attended, the Black Liberation Collective, whom Petersons addresses in his second of three videos, was in attendance to shed light on the particularities of Black trans and non-binary issues specifically (Denton, 2016).
This was then countered with the “U of T Rally for Free Speech” in support of Peterson, attended by many activists and students who showed up to fight back against such ignorance and transphobic comments. Cassandra Williams, the University of Toronto’s Student Union’s Vice President of University Affairs (also a co-organizer of the teach-in), played white noise out of speakers in an attempt to drown out the promotion of Peterson’s values (Tran, 2016).
Members of the Black Liberation Collective also attended this event. Their presence showed coalition with the the Black Lives Matter movement, and how this issue does not just affect a singular group of people but various subjugated minorities. In one confrontation with BLC protesters, a Peterson supporter shouted, “We need more Michael Browns”, in reference to the 2014 fatal shooting of the 18-year old unarmed black man by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri (Denton, 2016).
Peterson’s disregard for Black bodies and the importance of being aware of the histories and the current injustices being done to Black bodies is apparent in his second video in which he rejects the idea of mandatory racial bias training (Denton, 2016). This shows just how deeply rooted his ideas are, and his rejections of everything that goes against his white supremacist ideals or destabilizes his privilege. This also shows the interlocking weave between the BLM movement and the rights of non-binary and trans people.
While many of these activists and students were met with backlash, particularly online, they have continued to stand up for what is right. As such, acts of student resistance emerge when our lives are threatened by hate and bigotry.
Several U of T professors have also come out and stood against Peterson and the hate he spews (Yun, 2016). One of these people are Professor AW Peet, a physics professor who is non-binary and uses the pronoun “they”. In response to Peet’s public reactions to Peterson’s videos, Peterson challenged them to a debate. Peet responded by saying that “gender identity of real life people is actually not up for debate. That’s one of the primary reasons why I refused to debate him in the format that he requested.” Peet may feel that way, but apparently the University of Toronto didn’t. Read more about the debate in the next post.
Image credit: The Varsity
Denton, J. (2016, October, 17). Tensions flare at rally supporting free speech, Dr. Jordan Peterson. The Varsity. Retrieved from http://thevarsity.ca/2016/10/17/tensions-flare-at-rally-supporting-free-speech-dr-jordan-peterson/
Tran, R. (2016, November 13). White noise and public representation do not mix. The Varsity. Retrieved from http://thevarsity.ca/2016/11/13/white-noise-and-public-representation-do-not-mix/
Yun, T. (2016, October 3). U of T community responds to Jordan Peterson on gender identities. The Varsity. Retrieved from http://thevarsity.ca/2016/10/03/u-of-t-community-responds-to-jordan-peterson-on-gender-identities/