Dr. Becky, PhD

A teaching assistant at Wilfrid Laurier University was recently disciplined for making the dignity of trans people the subject of a debate. Lindsey Shepherd–or Dr. Becky, PhD as I’ve come to call her–recorded audio of her meeting with the administration, and leaked the subsequent recording. Since then, a horde of tedious dudebros have followed her every tweet, and Dr. Becky has taken up the reactionary dipshit speaking circuit. Whatever benefit of the doubt I might have given her before vanished once she signed up for generously paid speaking circuits to lambast the evil transes.

Her fans sound suspiciously similar to Jordan Peterson’s, for reasons that should be transparently obvious.

Still, I didn’t feel the need to respond myself because there has been nothing I’ve said about J Pete that doesn’t apply to Dr. Becky, PhD. But Florence Ashley looked at the typical frozen peaches lobbed in the name of ceaselessly litigating my humanity, and I’m sharing what she found:

Free speech only benefits those who have a voice. If you’re not invited to speak, freedom of expression is pointless. Those who have a platform don’t concern themselves with the difficulties of obtaining one as much as those who don’t have one.

When free speech is reduced to a justification for one’s intuitive reaction or opinion on a given case, it is instrumentalized in defence of those we agree with. It becomes a mere shadow of the right we have enshrined in our Constitution.

There is much to be said about balancing free speech with other human rights, such as the right to equality. But even for free speech absolutists, a lot more can be done without talking about other rights. The distribution of outrage and the equality of access to platforms are free-speech issues.

Read the rest here.



  1. Raucous Indignation says

    We had a trans patient on the oncology unit nearly 20 years ago when I was in training. My chief of service, Dr Z., always referred to her as “her” or “she” because that’s what she preferred. He made sure the house staff knew to be respectful too. He taught us about respect and decency, as well as medicine. To Z, she was a person with leukemia who needed his help and care. And that most definitely included respect of the individual who was ill, not just treating the disease. He was a very decent human being. I think of him frequently when I read FTB. I know the anecdote was off topic, but I hope you’ll allow me to share it. It was an important moment in my own medical training.

  2. polishsalami says

    I think people have to remember that free speech isn’t a zero-sum game: you can boost trans (and other marginalized groups’) voices, while people like Jordan Peterson can talk his waffle to whoever wants to listen to it. Elite institutions are always going to favour conservative and Establishment figures, so the solution is to get better organized to give those groups a say.

  3. Raucous Indignation says

    Siobhan, I’m free-wheeling off topic again, again my apologizes. I need to use a gender neutral title in an official letter between doctors. Is Mx. generally correct or preferred? The patient in question hasn’t decided on what pronouns they prefer. I don’t want to offend the patient when they see my report. (By the way, I have no idea why I going to you with this, but you’ve been great so far.)

  4. Siobhan says


    (By the way, I have no idea why I going to you with this, but you’ve been great so far.)

    I do have a contact email to the left of the blog post under housekeeping if you ever want to ask questions without broadcasting them to the internet at large.

    Mx can work if policy is insistent on including an honorific. Otherwise I just use their full name, no honorific.

  5. Raucous Indignation says

    K, thank you for the invite. I don’t like to cold email. It fells intrusive to me.

  6. emergence says

    What really pisses me off is the reasoning Dr. Becky uses to argue that what she did was okay but what Masuma Khan said wasn’t.

    I’ve seen this over and over again. Most of the time, when a person of color is called racist toward white people, it’s for calling out white people’s own racism, or how defensive white people get when they’re criticized for their attitudes towards people of other races. Accusing a person of color of “anti-white racism” has turned into a silencing tactic. White people claim to be victims of racism to derail discussions about their own racism.

    The priorities that the universities and Dr. Becky have are completely fucked. Somehow, allowing endless debate over whether trans and non-binary people deserve to have their identities respected is necessary for academic freedom, but criticizing white people for being racist and hypersensitive to criticism about it is somehow beyond the pale.