Trans-friendly counter-protesters drown out Ottawa man

Hundreds of trans-friendly folks converged to stage their own protest against a B.C. man protesting the medical treatments offered to transgender youth.

Ottawa Citizen 3 minute read October 20, 2021

Hundreds of trans-friendly folks converged outside Broadview Public School and Nepean High School to stage their own protest against a British Columbia man who was protesting against medical treatments offered to transgender youth.

Chanting “trans lives matter,” and “Leave our city,” about 200 people surrounded Chris Elston as he walked around the school Tuesday afternoon holding a picket sign saying, “Children cannot consent to puberty blockers.”

Elston has been travelling across Canada with his protest, saying he wants to talk to parents about what he sees as harmful gender ideology being taught in schools and the use of puberty-blocking drugs and hormone therapy for youth under age 18.

There was no conversation Tuesday as the chanting protesters followed Elston, who walked silently while videotaping the crowd around him. A group of counter-protesters, organized by the Rainbow Carleton group, also showed up Tuesday morning to protest outside the schools on Broadview Avenue to show their support for transgender kids.

Elston and a couple of his supporters also stood outside Notre Dame High School on Broadview Avenue on Monday, but attracted little attention, although Elston said one man who objected to his message punched him. Ottawa Police said a 53-year-old man from Ottawa was arrested and charged with assault. No injuries resulted, police said.

The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board had posted a warning to parents on social media about Elston’s protest, calling it an act of “hatred” and promising to ensure there was no trespassing on school property.

“I’m here because I don’t think it’s appropriate to peddle misinformation about trans health care,” Christian Wright, founder of Rainbow Carleton, said at the Tuesday afternoon counter-protest. “It’s totally inappropriate, awful and vile and harmful.”

Protesters on Tuesday wanted to reassure trans youth that “they are loved, they are valued, and they have the ability to make decisions in their lives,” Wright said.

Alice Holland, 39, a trans woman, said she wished she had enjoyed so much support when she was a child. “I would have had much more confidence.”

She wants her own daughter to “know she is loved, whoever she is,” Holland said. “My family didn’t do that for me.”

Erika Peterson said she was upset by Elston’s message and his choice of protest location. “I wish that guy hadn’t decided to come out and protest in front of a school, to tell kids they don’t know who they are.”

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Frank M., 17, said the medical treatment he received at the CHEO gender clinic “saved my life” by helping him transition.

“It’s all b——-. I don’t know why he cares what people do.”

Frank said the consent process was thorough and he understood the implications of taking drugs to pause puberty followed by hormones to transition to the male gender.

Elston, in an interview, said he was not transphobic and believed society should embrace gender non-conforming behaviour in children and youth. But he was concerned about the drugs given to the increasing number of youth, predominantly girls, being referred to gender clinics.

He favours a more cautious approach for youth under 18, saying they should not be prescribed puberty-blocking drugs and hormones.

The issue recently came to the fore in Britain, where a court ruled it was unlikely that youths under age 16 were mature enough to give informed consent to puberty blocking drugs, but a higher court overturned that ruling, saying it should be up to doctors to decide.

jmiller@postmedia.com