The disciplinary hearing for a B.C. nurse resumed on October 23 over her public recognition of only two genders three years ago.
Amy Hamm, a women's rights advocate and mother of two, became the centre of controversy during an unprecedented legal challenge on freedom of expression in 2020.
According to allegations by the British Columbia College of Nurses and Midwives (BCCNM), Hamm disseminated "medically inaccurate information" after placing a 'I heart JK Rowling' billboard in Vancouver. The billboard served as a symbol of solidarity with Rowling, the world-renowned Harry Potter author and advocate for sex-based rights, who championed 'safe spaces' for women and children.
Two members of the public, who had never been patients of the accused, lodged a complaint with the BCCNM.
Although the board rescinded the "medically inaccurate" charge against Hamm in June 2022, they allege the nurse "[…] made discriminatory and derogatory statements regarding transgender people [between approximately July 2018 and March 2021] as a nurse or nurse educator" across various online platforms, including but not limited to, podcasts, videos, published writings and social media.
The professional body subsequently launched an investigation into the matter.
"There's a ton of conversation to be had about gender identity, ideology, and the fact that if you put up something as innocuous as an 'I [heart] JK Rowling' billboard and then it causes the city councilor of Vancouver to accuse you of hate speech," Hamm told Rebel News in a previous interview about the billboard.
She said following the complaint against her, she received tens of thousands of messages that threatened her with hate and abuse. "I think that has the effect of showing people how toxic this debate actually is," she said, referring to the hearing against her as a 'witch hunt.'
"Funny how I’m allowed to work despite their accusations that my off-duty conduct makes me unsafe," she posted on her X feed October 4. "This is a show trial. A witch trial."
"They want me to quit," said Hamm before publicly declaring the BCCNM is "stuck with me."
Her legal counsel, Lisa Bildy and counsel Karen Bastow, iterated that regulatory bodies across Canada are increasingly policing the speech of professionals with threats of disciplinary action.
"The College is tasked with keeping patients safe and regulating the profession in the public interest," said Bildy. "Their job is not to give social justice activists a tool for 'cancelling' people with whom they do not agree or who have opinions outside of a narrow orthodoxy."
"Professional governing bodies are created by statute and are therefore subject to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Freedom of speech, thought, belief, opinion and expression are Charter rights belonging to all people, even health professionals," she continued, claiming the case's verdict will "set an important precedent for regulated professionals who engage in [...] policy debates."
Aside from several delays, including interruptions from a member of the public, the bulk of Monday's deliberations centered on whether the panel should qualify sexologist and clinical psychologist Dr. James Cantor as an expert witness.
The defence asked Dr. Cantor to provide evidence on the impact gender ideology had on medical health practices, mental health practices, and if some of Hamm's off-duty statements in question may serve as a social benefit.
The College's counsel made several objections on the timing to qualify Cantor. Although their case submissions had already concluded, they also called forth epidemiologist Dr. Ayden Sheim as an additional witness to challenge evidence by Cantor should the panel opt to qualify him.
A concerning revelation made that afternoon uncovered that Sheim had been present during the virtual hearing by invitation of the College counsel Barbara Findlay. Sheim was in attendance while Bastow questioned Cantor on his extensive experience on the science of sexual behaviour and statistical research, including studies related to gender dysphoria and medically transitioning adolescent children.
Hamm's disciplinary hearing will reconvene virtually October 24 and 25 at 10 a.m. local time and pick resume on October 31. Public attendance is not restricted for either date.
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