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Amy Hamm BCCNM disciplinary hearing: Opening Submissions by Lisa Bildy, JD

The following is a transcript from the British Columbia College of Nurses and Midwives (BCCNM) disciplinary hearing on September 21, 2022 regarding nurse Amy Hamm. The BCCNM's Panel of the Discipline Committee is conducting the hearing as a result of complaints against Amy from two members of the public alleging she made "discriminatory and derogatory statements regarding transgender people."

LISA BILDY: Amy Hamm is a normal nurse. She is a normal mom, now single, to two young boys, ages 3 and 5, and she has a normal job as a nurse educator which, before this case began, she enjoyed very much. She is passionate about women’s rights.

This is not a normal disciplinary hearing. You will not hear about a nurse who sexually abused a patient, who accessed confidential medical records inappropriately, who mishandled narcotics, who personally abused intoxicating substances on the job, or who assaulted elderly patients. (That’s just a snapshot of the types of cases to be found on the College website’s discipline page.)

You will hear about a nurse with over 10 years experience, who has had an exemplary career, has been promoted in her workplace, and who has never once had a patient complaint against her. That clean track record remains, even though we are before a disciplinary panel of her regulator.

We are here because she stands accused by her regulatory body of making what it says are discriminatory and derogatory statements about transgender people on social media.

The comments that Amy Hamm has made have not been in the same vein as other College disciplinary proceedings about speech found on the website. She did not direct hostile or inappropriate language to a patient, she did not make profane, or inappropriate sexual comments to or about colleagues, she did not make disrespectful comments on Facebook about patients in her care, she did not send private messages disclosing confidential information about patients or send sexual images to nursing students on her personal cell phone. None of the comments by Ms. Hamm relate to the workplace, or colleagues, or patients. No patient or colleague has ever complained to the College about her professionalism, her behaviour on or off duty, or her judgment. She has not been accused of dishonesty. In fact, it is speaking the unvarnished truth which has placed her in the crosshairs. It will be our submission that speaking the truth should not be a punishable offence.

You will hear in her testimony how Amy Hamm became involved in advocating for women’s sex-based protections around 2016, when she noticed the discourse from extreme online communities was leaking into popular discourse. She was astonished at how women were being told to shut up while talking about their bodies and their experiences, if their speech made males who identify as females feel excluded. This was all happening under the guise of “inclusivity” but, to Ms. Hamm, it was apparent that it was designed to exclude and belittle women. She began to understand how Canada’s gender identity legislation conflicted with the sex-based rights of women. She will testify that she also saw how trans activists were making increasingly anti-scientific claims about the nature of identity and biological sex, and how anyone who dared question this narrative was being labelled a bigot. As she will testify, she decided that she did not want to be cowed into silence by ideological bullies pushing an anti-science, anti-woman, anti-child safeguarding agenda. She began writing about the issue and then organizing talks for women to come together to discuss these concerns in Vancouver. She will tell you how this made her a target for countless threats of violence, death and rape – simply for wanting to talk about women’s sex-based rights.

You see, Amy Hamm had waded into the controversial conflict of worldviews between trans rights activists on one side and women’s rights, and even gay and lesbian groups, on the other. And, apparently, women’s rights are transphobic. It is a raging debate in the public square, as one would expect when a conflict of rights occurs and when a small group insists that everyone else conform to its worldview. It is a debate where both sides claim they are being erased, yet one seems to wield all the cultural power and seeks to shut down and vilify that debate. It is Amy Hamm’s contention and experience that it is women who are being silenced and punished for speaking up to defend sex-based protections for women and safeguarding for children.

Amy Hamm has become an advocate for women and children in her off-duty public life, but it by no means follows that she is transphobic or is unkind or unprofessional to individual trans-identified people. This is an important distinction to understand. Trans people and trans ideology and its activists are two very different things.

Amy will testify that she has never, nor would she ever, express transphobic views. She is not a transphobic person, and has repeatedly and explicitly made this clear when describing her views in public. Criticism of gender identity ideology or the extremist activists within this social movement is not akin to criticizing or being “phobic” of transgender persons. She will tell the panel that she has provided excellent care for many transgendered persons in her 10 years as a nurse. She will testify that she has no desire to infringe upon the rights of transgendered persons and has nothing but empathy towards persons suffering from gender dysphoria. She believes that consenting adults should be free to do with their bodies as they please. There is no evidence that she has been unable to separate her views from her professional responsibilities, and her views are not problematic in any event. Unless, of course, women’s rights are transphobic.

This conflict of rights has been the topic of numerous court battles waged very publicly in the United Kingdom in recent years. It’s been raging on social media and has led to cancellations, or attempted cancellations of public figures, like famous children’s author, JK Rowling, which, as you will hear, directly precipitated the investigation before you.

JK Rowling came to the defence of Maya Forstater, a UK woman who was going through a court case over her “gender critical views” in December 2019, in a tweet that caused a virtual storm which reverberated around the world. Modelling their idea on a similar action taken by a JK Rowling supporter in Scotland, you will hear how Amy Hamm became involved with another person in putting up an "I 💗 JK Rowling" billboard in Vancouver. The billboard went up on September 11, 2020. As soon as they began tweeting photos of the billboard, local activists began protesting. Vancouver city councillor Sarah Kirby-Yung tweeted that the billboard was meant to stoke “hate, division and exclusion.” Despite Amy Hamm and her colleague sending a letter to the billboard company to re-assure them that their message was pro-woman and not hateful in any way, within 24 hours Pattison Outdoor arrived to cover over the billboard, which had already been vandalized with paint balls. CTV News Vancouver's coverage of the story said that Rowling 'has been outspoken about her criticisms of transgender people.’ What was the Rowling tweet that triggered this whole affair?

Dress however you please. Call yourself whatever you like. Sleep with any consenting adult who’ll have you. Live your best life in peace and security. But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real? #IStandWithMaya #ThisIsNotADrill

Ms. Hamm’s sponsorship of the billboard was referenced in a CBC article in which she was quoted as saying, "Women's rights are important and we need to stand up for them and it's not transphobic to do so."

As Ms. Hamm later tweeted, “So, Chris Elston and I could have anonymously put up a billboard in Vancouver. But we didn't. The threats & abuse are still coming: more than 12,000 comments on my Facebook. Hundreds of abusive and threatening DMs. My hope was to shed light on and start a conversation about the trans activist movement. Please let uninformed people in your lives know what happens to those who are *absolutely not* hateful but challenge the mainstream gender narrative. This is not normal."

Shortly thereafter, in about November of 2020, a complaint was submitted to the BCCNM that Amy Hamm’s alleged “transphobia” made her unsuited to her career as a nurse and called for Ms. Hamm’s removal from her current and future nursing positions. A second complaint, anonymous to Ms. Hamm, was also submitted to the College, which accused her of “promoting and stoking hate speech towards trans and gender‐diverse communities”.

And, nearly two years later, here we are.

This culture war has spilled over into most institutions and now it is here at the BC College of Nurses and Midwives. If you were blissfully unaware of this raging debate, well, I am sorry to say that you will not be any longer.

Activists have brought the issue to her workplace and her licensing body, and now the culture war is being fought on the back of Amy Hamm and her license as a nurse is at stake. And, frankly, public confidence in the BCCNM’s governance of its licensees is also at stake. This case is a public hearing on the College’s behaviour in prosecuting this case as much as it is on the behaviour of Ms. Hamm. As I understand it, the virtual gallery today is filled with interested and concerned observers.

This case is fundamentally about speech: whether a nurse can engage in the public square on a topic that is as politically charged as this one; whether she can advocate on her own time for women’s rights to not have intact male bodies in their prisons, changerooms, rape crisis centres and sports teams, and for care to be taken not to rush children and adolescents into life-altering and permanent changes to their bodies.

But more broadly, this is a case about two irreconcilable worldviews that have come into conflict. On one side are trans rights activists and their supporters, some of whom want to silence or shame the larger populace from expressing legitimate concerns. They do this by accusing people of transphobia and striking fear in them so they won’t speak up. Because women’s rights are transphobic, apparently. They try to cancel people who push back.

On this point, you will hear that two activists came forward to try to cancel Amy Hamm. And you’ll hear how dozens and dozens of people (that we know about) wrote in to say that they supported Amy Hamm, including representatives from the LGB and even the T community. You know who we won’t hear from? Patients that have been harmed by Amy Hamm, because there aren’t any. We also won’t hear from any trans-identified individuals who have been harmed. Despite all of the publicity surrounding this case, none have come forward to testify in this case. The College will be presenting “expert” opinions that some people might be harmed by her views. Hypothetically.

Amy Hamm, for her part, is presenting witnesses with expertise in issues directly facing women and children as a result of gender ideology. Unless they, too, are silenced, you will hear from Dr. Kathleen Stock, a UK academic who has written widely on the topic of this conflict of rights; from Dr. Miriam Grossman, a psychiatrist who has been warning about the dangers of gender ideology, especially related to children, for decades; from Dr. Linda Blade, a former Canadian national athlete and now coach, who has written a book about the impact of gender ideology on women’s sports; and Heather Mason, a former federal inmate who has devoted her efforts to protecting vulnerable and marginalized women in Canada’s prisons from gender ideology. They will testify to the fact that this is very much a legitimate debate with real harms being faced by woman and children. You will be receiving a 10-volume brief that is just a smattering of the popular articles being written on this topic. This is not a settled issue that only a few bigots and heretics could possibly still be out to lunch on.

But the fact remains, given the consequences that can follow – like this very proceeding – few people have the courage to engage in this necessary debate, even though it is having an impact on virtually everyone, or soon will. Amy Hamm has been brave enough to stick her neck out to defend and advocate for the sex-based protections of women and safeguarding of children. She expresses her opinions in what is purported to be a free country. Are some of her comments angry and direct at times? Perhaps, but the battlefield can be a nasty one, as you will hear, with vicious comments directed her way that are not included for context in the Investigation Report. Are some of these things she advocates for in conflict with the things that trans rights advocates seek? Maybe so. But does that delegitimize the concerns of women? It should not. As a woman, she is entitled to advocate for the rights of women and girls. And, as a nurse, biology is relevant and material. Unless, of course, women’s rights and biology are transphobic.

The right to hold and express opinions that go against the prevailing orthodoxy is sacrosanct in a liberal democracy. In the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, these ideas are of such fundamental importance that they are listed first and are expressly guaranteed. Professional governing bodies are created by statute and are therefore subject to the Charter, and that is something that the panel will have to bear in mind as you listen to the evidence in this case, and as you consider the legal arguments down the line. A regulatory body has obligations to regulate the profession in the public interest, that is true; however, it should not let itself become a tool in the cancellation toolbox used by activists. It is our contention that health professionals have the right to express their opinions on matters of interest in the public square and professional misconduct must not be redefined to include speaking unpopular truths. To do so is to undermine the very foundations of liberal democracy.

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