Fay and Fluffy’s Storytime ends Toronto Public Library affiliation over Meghan Murphy talk

The creators of the popular ‘Fay and Fluffy’s Storytime’ have announced they will be ending their relationship with the Toronto Public Library because it allowed a talk by Meghan Murphy to go ahead. Dilshad Burman with why they feel "free speech" is not an adequate defense of the library's decision.

By Dilshad Burman

The creators of the hugely popular ‘Fay and Fluffy’s Storytime’ have announced they will be ending their relationship with the Toronto Public Library because it is allowing a talk by controversial speaker Meghan Murphy to go ahead at its Palmerston location.

In a statement on Instagram, Kaleb Robertson, Fluffy of the duo Fay and Fluffy, said he could not “continue a relationship with a space that will host someone who is actively fighting to take away my legal rights as a human.”

“Trans people existing and having rights to employment, housing, and safety is not a discussion,” he added, and expressed solidarity with the queer and trans staff members who “now have to go to work for a place that would host someone who spews the kind of hate that Meghan Murphy does.”

Watch below: Fay and Fluffy’s Storytime on Breakfast Television

Over the last few weeks, the Toronto Public Library has come under fire over its refusal to cancel the event, despite having a policy in place that gives it the right to deny or cancel a booking when it “reasonably believes” the space will be used by an individual or group “that is likely to promote, or would have the effect of promoting discrimination, contempt or hatred for any group or person.”

But after consulting with the City of Toronto’s lawyer, the library decided it was not able to cancel the event, saying the description of the event doesn’t suggest it will promote discrimination.

“As a public library and public institution, we have an obligation to protect free speech,” city librarian Vickery Bowles said in a written statement.

“When Toronto Public Library makes meeting rooms available to the public we serve, we need to make them available to all on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.”

Robertson says protection of free speech and opinions should not come at the cost of other people’s freedoms.

“I don’t feel like it’s an opinion for my right to exist,” he told CityNews. “If I can be fired, just for being trans, then that’s not equality. And somebody fighting for that is not spreading any message other than hatred.”

Robertson said that Murphy is “so hateful” that she has been removed from Twitter.

“Does that not say something about free speech? There is consequences to saying whatever you want,” he said.

To those who feel they are silencing themselves and disappointing their fans by walking away from the library, Robertson says they are in fact achieving the opposite.

“We are amplifying our voice in support of trans kids, trans women and trans and non-binary community. Our voice is being amplified right now because of our fan base,” he says.

Robertson said that while it is sad that the library events will be discontinued, Fay and Fluffy’s Storytime will continue to hold events at other venues across the city.

Read the library’s full statement below:

The cancellation of Fay and Fluffy’s Storytime comes on the heels of a string of other authors and speakers who cancelled for the same reason, including American poet Ben Lerner and Canadian writer Elisabeth de Mariaffi.

Murphy, a self-described feminist known for saying transgender rights endanger women, is set to deliver a talk, titled “Gender Identity: What Does It Mean For Society, The Law and Women?” at an event organised by a group called “Radical Feminists Unite.”

She has written that “allowing men to identify as women” endangers women and undermines women’s rights, and has said that gender identity isn’t real – instead, there is only biological sex and personality.

An online petition to cancel the event has gathered over 8,000 signatures to date. A recent public meeting with the library’s board also saw several LGBTQ+ community members and allies speak out about the decision.

“LGBTQ+ folks like me view the library as a safe place, a welcoming place. I know my local library saved me as a confused queer kid,” said Michelle Nochomovitz, one of the speakers at the meeting. “You also have LGBTQ+ staff. This decision has taken away my community’s sense of safety and inclusion, and it’s taking mine too.”

The passionate words of a long lineup of speakers did little to change the board’s mind.

Bowles said Murphy – a freelance writer who runs the website “Feminist Current” – has never been charged with or convicted of hate speech “as defined in the Criminal Code of Canada.”

Pride Toronto in collaboration with several community organizations, will hold a peaceful protest “to say no to transphobia in our beloved public library!” outside the Palmerston Public Library Tuesday night.

Organizations involved include The 519, No More Silence, Fight for $15 & Fairness, Artists for Climate & Migrant Justice and Indigenous Sovereignty, Climate Justice Toronto, Maggie’s: Toronto Sex Workers Action Project, SURJ Toronto, IfNotNow Toronto, and Workers’ Action Centre New Socialists. CUPE Local 4948, the Toronto Public Library Workers Union has also endorsed the protest.

With files from The Canadian Press

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