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BC Teacher Files Human Rights Complaint Against Parent Over Transphobic Harassment Online

BC teacher targeted by American far-right “Libs of TikTok” account after a parent began harassing them online

A school teacher in British Columbia has filed a human rights complaint with the BC Human Rights tribunal after enduring months of relentless harassment from a transphobic parent who began attacking them online over their identity.

Joanna Evenson, a parent who goes by the moniker “Blonde Bigot” on social media, is accused of repeatedly posting screenshots of BC teacher Wilson Wilson’s personal social media account last year regarding their gender affirming surgery.

In the online postings, Evenson misgendered Wilson and claimed it was “inappropriate” for Wilson to post photos of themself online.

A month later, the American far-right social media account Libs of TikTok, which is known for inciting violence and hatred particularly against the 2SLGBTQ+ community, picked up Wilson’s story, further exposing them to hate and harassment.

Libs of TikTok, which aggregates content targeting teachers and the 2SLGBTQ+ community, has been linked to harassment, death threats and bomb threats targeting schools and children’s hospitals across the United States. Libs of TikTok also reposted images from Wilson’s social media account, as well as emails Evenson sent to Wilson’s school, exposing where Wilson worked and inviting their massive audience to pile-on and send harassing emails to the school.

Lawyers against Transphobia, a legal advocacy group dedicated to protecting the rights of trans people, is now helping Wilson Wilson bring a human rights complaint against Evenson’s harassment.

Jadine Lannon of Lawyers against Transphobia, who assisted Wilson with their human rights complaint filed last month, says the harassment is designed to “silence and erase trans people from mainstream culture.”

“The B.C Human Rights Code prohibits any publication which ‘is likely to expose a

person or a group or class of persons to hatred or contempt” because of their gender identity or gender expression,’” Lannon told PressProgress.

“Subjecting trans people to online hate is a key way that hateful people and folks on the far-right are trying to keep trans people out of public life,” Lannon added. “This is really what this parent wants for Wilson.”

“She wants them to go away. She wants them to stop teaching, stop working, stop being out and just disappear from the public view.”

Wilson says at first, they simply deleted the hateful comments on their social media posts and tried to move on. But days later, when the posts were picked up by Libs of TikTok, it became clear that this was too big to ignore.

“It took seconds for that wave to come rushing in,” Wilson told PressProgress.

“It is really shocking, it’s really surreal, because the person that they are talking about isn’t me, it’s just an idea—an idea of a villain, of a trans person, of a trans teacher and it has my name. But it’s so far from who I am.”

Wilson adds that often people’s anxieties are projected onto trans folks.

“People’s sense of fear or discomfort becomes true (to them). ‘I think trans people are bad,’ becomes ‘trans people are bad. I feel that trans people having rights takes rights away from me, becomes, I am losing my rights because of trans people’,” Wilson said.

“Fears or individual perceptions are just turned into a truth and that truth is echoed. So you’re being reinforced in your feelings and this echo is really, really loud. They’re incredibly loud and they are very comfortable being violent and they are very comfortable taking action.”

Wilson says their case at the human rights tribunal is important because it helps demonstrate that people who spread hate can and will be held accountable.

“It’s important that other trans people can see that there are things we can do, and it’s important to make visible the counteractive work to this intense hate,” Wilson said.

“It’s important for me to bring this to people; that the public be aware of how common and how devastating this is. What can I do with what happened to me? I can show trans people that there is something we can do about it, I can demonstrate that there are consequences to anti-trans hate speech, and I can ask everyone else to care about it.”

A previous decision by the human rights tribunal in 2017 concluded that discrimination against trans folks trying to participate in public life violated the BC Human Rights Code.

“We have a really good decision from the tribunal setting out what are some of the main types of hate speech that trans people experience,” Lannon said.

“We’re following in the footsteps of that decision from the question of, does this conduct by the parent against Wilson constitute student hate speech, but the part of our case that is novel is the part that has to do with the fact that the hate took place online.”

Lannon adds that hate against trans individuals has ramped up as the far-right across North America continues to fuel the hatred experienced by individuals like Wilson.

“We’re hearing this is happening across Canada,” Lannon said. “The targeting and attacking of trans folks and trans kids in particular is the starting place for their overall attack on equality rights. It’s way more common than most people know.”

In a statement to PressProgress, the BC Teachers Federation affirmed their support for Wilson.

“The BC Teachers’ Federation commends Wilson Wilson for their bravery in coming forward and making their human rights complaint public. As the union representing 50,000 teachers across British Columbia, we know that this is not an isolated experience,” the BCTF said.

“Unfortunately, trans teachers are facing increased online attacks by individuals and co-ordinated hate networks. Even when the attacks are initiated online and off school grounds, the impacts are felt throughout the school community—not only by the targeted teachers, but also by their students who are disturbed to see these aggressive and bullying attacks on their teachers.”

“An attack by an individual is also often the tip of the iceberg, as they are supported by a network of organized hate groups that amplify their messages,” the statement added.

“Wilson’s local union will continue to advocate for actions at the school-district level to ensure that the safety of trans teachers is protected now and in the future,” the BCTF said. “We know the local union appreciates the provincial government’s recent introduction of exclusion zones to protect schools from harmful protests, which are another way that co-ordinated hate groups are targeting trans staff and students.”

 

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Rumneek Johal
Reporter
Rumneek Johal is PressProgress' BC Reporter. Her reporting focuses on systemic inequality, workers and communities, as well as racism and far-right extremism.

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