Sophie Labelle, a Canadian comic artist known for her platform as ‘Assigned Male’ gave a talk at Sheffield Central Library about her experience of growing up trans. She has recently been criticised for her fetish artwork.
Penistone and Stockbridge MP Miriam Cates opposed the event and said: “In no words can the work or ‘activism’ of this author be considered suitable for children. It is wrong and deeply damaging to expose children to sexualised material.’
Labelle told ShefLive today: ‘I think it’s sad she would attack marginalised communities for political gain, especially as our communities are still grieving the death of a child. However, I’m proud of the Sheffield City Council and the people at Sheffield Central Library for siding with trans people against this case of defamation.’
Labelle was referring to the death of Brianna Ghey, a 16-year-old trans girl stabbed to death in Cheshire earlier this month.
The event was met with a lot of controversy as complaints are being filed to Sheffield Libraries for allowing the event to take place. However the event was allowed to go ahead as planned.
Jean Hatchet @JeanHatchet wrote on Twitter, ‘by the admission of Sophie Labelle I was “guarded” and intimidated last night for being a “TERF” by Library Officials at a public event. I think I have a case for unlawful discrimination.’
Sheffield Solidarity Group organised a counter protest at the event and claimed Sophie was ‘being threatened with violence’.
However, Labelle said: ‘The anti protesters that promised to show up never came. We had a whole group of allies coming and making sure everyone felt safe and welcome.’
Labelle has been criticised for using images of babies to create her art. She has admitted to a “diaper kink”, but she says she uses it responsibly.
Sheffield Libraries have denied there were any child safeguarding issues connected to Ms Labelle’s event.
Labelle talked about the message of her art and said: ‘My art is meant to empower queer and trans youth, especially girls and women, show them characters experiencing joy and give them tools to survive in a hostile world. But my harassers have been creating narratives in their mind about my work. They imagine all sorts of wild conspiracies and can’t fathom it being anything other than perverse manipulation. What I’d like to tell them is to actually read my books.’
‘Radical joy and euphoria are revolutionary, when you’re trans and a constant target of hatred.’
When asked what the best part of the event, Labelle said: ‘After the event I was signing books, a parent came to see me to share how important my work had been to their child. This alone gives me enough strength against all the attempted defamation by members of parliament around the whole world.’