Protesters outnumber attendees at the SU College Republicans talk
Protesters outnumber attendees at SU College Republicans talk
Demonstrators stood outside Drumlins Country Club to protest the anti-trans views of SU graduate and gender therapist Sara Stockton.
The debate over transgender rights happening across the country landed at Syracuse University Wednesday night as a College Republicans-sponsored speaker attracted more protesters than attendees.
Dozens of campus and community activists with LGBTQ-affirming signs and flags chanted outside the Drumlins Country Club entrance for more than an hour prior to the talk by local family therapist Sara Stockton.
The protest was organized by LGBTQ Syracuse after a petition to SU’s administration attracted more than 1,500 signatures but did not lead to the event’s cancellation.
Stockton has garnered attention for participating in Matt Walsh’s What Is a Woman? documentary, in which her claims of schoolchildren self-identifying as animals went viral.
About 25 people — 10 of whom were members of the press or university administrators — attended Stockton’s talk in Drumlin’s Nottingham Room about her change from being a proponent of gender-affirming care for youth to a vocal advocate against it.
Among the protesters outside was Brooke Tindall, a graduate student in the marriage and family therapy department – the same program Stockton was a part of when she attended SU for her bachelor’s degree.
“Our program is the oldest family and marriage program in the country and one of the only ones that specialize in gender-affirming care,” Tindall said while holding a neon sign that read, “Sara, FACTS don’t care about your FEELINGS.”
“The university should be more proud of what it is sponsoring,” Tindall said. “They should really vet the people they allow to speak.”
About 15 minutes into Stockton’s “Gender Expert to Skeptical Dissenter” presentation, a bang was heard from the room’s exterior windows. Stockton paused to acknowledge the noise before continuing without further interruption for the remainder of the 50-minute talk.
Stockton cited “social contagion” as a cause for the increase in young people identifying as transgender and argued against the supplying of gender-affirming care to anyone whose brains have not yet fully developed. She also challenged cited studies that correlate the decrease in rates of suicidal ideation in transgender youth with having access to gender-affirming care.
The question-and-answer session with the audience included an exchange with Hunter Kusak, who said they were a previous therapy client of Stockton’s.
Kusak shared their experiences having Stockton as a therapist and questioned the validity of her “expertise” advertised by SU College Republicans.
“It’s important to come and speak out against people like this who try and hide behind this lens of expertise, especially during this heightened time of anti-trans violence,” Kusak said, who concluded their remarks by unbuttoning their Western-themed shirt to reveal a transgender pride flag T-shirt.
College Republicans chairman John Parker said the protesters themselves were partly why his organization hosted Stockton’s presentation.
“I decided to push where there’s mush,” Parker said. “That means that if people are afraid to talk about it, it’s exactly the sort of thing that really needs to get talked about.”
Stockton’s talk was originally scheduled to take place in Maxwell Auditorium. However, according to SU College Republicans’ Instagram, it was moved to Drumlins Country Club “due to security concerns and [SU Public Safety] mandate.”