Trans activists block a conference at the University of Geneva

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GenevaActivists block conference deemed transphobic

Activists blocked the presentation of a book dealing with the early medicalization of trans children, organized by a society of psychoanalysts and hosted by Uni.

It was with a banner “transphobia kills” and screams of “murderers” that about fifteen activists and trans sympathizers interrupted a conference on Friday night organized by the Center de psychanalyse Suisse romande, to which the University had rented a room from Uni Bastions. . When they broke out, about 150 people (one third on site, the rest by zoom) watched the presentation of the book “The factory of the transgender child – how to protect minors from a health scandal?” by its authors, Céline Masson and Caroline Eliacheff. The question of the latter, expressed in particular on Radio Sud on March 24, is, very briefly, the following: we must listen to the sometimes very serious suffering of young people, but no irreversible medical intervention must be carried out before the age of majority.

“Public health issue”

For activists, this is an “overtly transphobic” discourse that has no place at the University. “We believe that by receiving it, it makes this statement audible and tolerable.” In a press release, they explain that in the audience were psychiatrists “who are and will be in effective capacity to block access to the transition for patients who are in vital need of it. (…) In this context, it is practically a matter of public health to show opposition to their propaganda.”

Activists against the debate

Contacted by phone and faced with the fact that the speaker’s statements did not seem outrageous, an activist believes that “in the anti-trans discourse, the attack always comes from children. It’s an angle that puts them on the side of good. However, access to medical care improves quality of life. Preventing a transition has a direct impact on mental health and can lead to suicide.” Consequently, he explains that militants are opposed to any debate (“an instrument of the dominant to channel the wrath of the dominated”, they write), because “debating a discourse is already considering it audible”.

“Violent and not constructive”

This posture and the intrusion that led the speakers and the audience to leave the room and move to continue the conference hit a woman who was following her on the zoom. “I was shocked. Calling people transphobic, murderers, is violent, not constructive. I understand that there can be militancy, but the way of doing it is contrary to freedom of expression. Contextualizing the debate, she explains that two currents of thought run through the scientific world. “One recommends following the child’s impulse and medicalizing very quickly, the other advocates waiting. Both positions are legitimate. Calling supporters of one of the killers is too violent. Asking questions about early medicalization is still not vote for Trump or Le Pen, let alone be transphobic.

Uni does not endorse

The University, through its spokesman Marco Cattaneo, declares itself “deeply linked to freedom of expression. It is a place for debates, exchanges, confrontation of ideas. The refusal of dialogue expressed yesterday by this group of activists is totally contrary to the academic approach, in no way can we endorse it. The alma mater also specifies that it is “committed to the fight against transphobia through its equality and diversity service, thanks to the work carried out by the Maurice Chalumeau Center or even through student associations. She is committed to advancing knowledge about the complex issue of gender and the personal and social issues that accompany it.

The author: “We just said we have to wait”

Céline Masson, co-author of the controversial book, regrets that activists have not wanted to debate. “We offered them to attend the conference, I was ready to talk to them outside, but they wouldn’t. Their idea, from the beginning, was to prevent the conference. The professor of child and adolescent psychopathology at the University of Picardy (F) regrets. “A trans woman was there too, she said, we didn’t agree on everything, but it was important to discuss.” She judges the episode symptomatic of the violence of the debate that currently agitates the scientific community. “When we don’t follow up on a request for a sex change, we are immediately accused by some of our medical and psychiatric colleagues of transphobia.” What does she defend? “We don’t stop that, we just say that 13-year-olds don’t necessarily know what they want and that we have to wait before performing sexual mutilation.”

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