A controversial psychologist with a history of testifying for U.S. governments defending laws that restrict the rights of transgender people has been approved as an expert witness in a discipline hearing for a B.C. nurse, according to CBC News.
James Cantor, who specializes in studying pedophilia and other atypical sexualities, was qualified as an expert witness following three days of questioning about his credentials last week. Cantor began testifying in defense of New Westminster nurse Amy Hamm on Tuesday.
Hamm faces allegations of unprofessional conduct for making “discriminatory and derogatory statements regarding transgender people” while identifying herself as a nurse, according to a college citation.
During his testimony, Cantor asserted that the science on transgender people and the value of gender-affirming care have not been settled, arguing the issue is worthy of debate.
“Very much of the public debate has been based on subjective perceptions of victimhood rather than on any facts related to the issue. People are relying on perceptions and feelings,” Cantor testified. “People are preying on each other’s emotions rather than any facts surrounding the case.”
The panel for the B.C. College of Nurses and Midwives has limited the subjects Cantor will be allowed to speak about and redacted parts of an expert report he has written. The reasons for qualifying him and the limits on his testimony have not been made public.
During his testimony on Tuesday, Cantor also cast doubt on the common understanding that transgender people have a higher risk of suicide and suicidal ideation, likening it to “emotional blackmail” to advocate for gender-affirming care.
“People are using threats of suicide — and oddly threats of threats of suicide — in order to justify giving into highly emotional demands,” he testified.
Cantor suggested other psychological conditions may be at play in those suicidal tendencies. He also suggested that many teens who identify as trans are just insecure about fitting in, and are often dealing with other conditions including autism and personality disorders.
Cantor’s cross-examination will continue on Wednesday. Hamm’s discipline hearing is scheduled to continue for another six days, and she is expected to testify.
Until last week, Hamm regularly made derisive comments on Twitter about college proceedings, describing the hearings as a “witch trial.” She has now made her account private.