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(LifeSiteNews) — Students and LGBT groups at a Virginia university are protesting a talk against transgender ideology which is scheduled to be given by a pro-life Catholic speaker on campus tonight. 

On April 17, the Young America’s Foundation (YAF) chapter at James Madison University (JMU) announced that it would be hosting conservative commentator Liz Wheeler to give a speech titled “The Ideology of Transgenderism.” Individual students, campus groups, and community organizations have been protesting the so-called endorsement of “hate speech” ever since. 

The talk is set to take place at the school’s campus in Harrisonburg, Virginia, at 6pm EST and will be livestreamed on the YAF YouTube page 

Despite Harrisonburg’s nickname being The Friendly City, social media posts about the event became overrun with opposition and insults as soon as the JMU chapter of YAF posted the event on its Instagram page. Recurring themes within the comments include claims that inviting Wheeler to campus was inherently “hate speech,” bashing YAF as “fascists,” and expressing that JMU allowing such an event to take place is “embarrassing.” 

On Twitter, a Connecticut state representative and graduate of JMU said she was “stunned” that her alma mater is hosting “the hateful Wheeler to spread her transphobic message on campus. It’s not free speech when you say #transfolxs shouldn’t exist and they end up harmed or killed because of those words.” 

Wheeler responded to Rep. Eleni Kavros DeGraw by stating, “This trans activist is demonstrably lying to you—I never said any such thing. The real question is, if she’s willing to lie about this, what ELSE about the transgender ideology is she willing to lie to you about?” 

The JMU Debate Team posted a lengthy statement expressing their opposition to Wheeler’s presence on campus, clarifying that their views do not reflect the opinion of the institution or its leadership. 

“The JMU Debate Team stands for free speech, open dialogue, and argument between different perspectives on campus,” the statement reads. “No person should be prohibited from expressing their viewpoints in the public sphere.”  

Wheeler’s speech, however, reaches beyond “a general climate of free speech” to “requiring us to platform or amplify ideas that are exclusionary, discriminatory, or hostile,” according to the group.  

In response to the university’s debate club, Wheeler wrote on Twitter, “You’re afraid of being bullied by trans activists, but I know you’re curious: Are you being lied to about transgenderism? What IS Queer Theory? What rights [do] ‘trans’ identifying people not have? Do hormones & surgery help ‘trans’ people?” 

“By bringing Liz Wheeler to campus, James Madison University (JMU) has invited hatred and transphobia into our community,” wrote Hyacinth Bellerose, the gender-confused director of the Friendly City Safe Space (FCSS) in Harrisonburg. 

Bellerose added that the FCSS plans to be present at the event to promote “nonviolent resistance” and “active, [embodied] images of trans joy and freedom.” 

Once again replying to criticism, Wheeler said, “I don’t hate you…I care deeply about you. You ARE worthy, you’re worthy of being treated better than the abuse inflicted on your body in the name of transgenderism.” 

In another video posted the day before the event, Wheeler reiterated her care for gender-confused individuals. She pointed out that LGBT activists are also declaring that they care about these people, to which Wheeler posed the question: “How do you know which one of us is telling you the truth?” 

The backlash against Wheeler comes amid a rise in calling for the silencing of conservative voices, specifically on the issue of gender ideology. Last week, a university debate on transgenderism with Catholic Daily Wire podcaster Michael Knowles was protested by left-wing activists who set fire to an effigy of Knowles and set off a smoke bomb. 

Around the same time, Matt Walsh, another Catholic commentator from the Daily Wire and well-known rebuker of child mutilation, found his professional and personal digital accounts hacked, a threatening act which Walsh’s critics celebrated. Wheeler’s speech and its backlash also comes after women’s sports advocate Riley Gaines was attacked by LGBT activists and forced to remain sheltered for three hours after a speech given at a California university earlier this month.  


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