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At CT college campus, a protest over 'What Is a Woman?,' a film critics call anti-transgender

Central Connecticut State University Protest
Ayannah Brown
/
Connecticut Public
CCSU students march through campus Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022, protesting the screening of the documentary "What Is a Woman?" created by Matt Walsh.

Students at Central Connecticut State University are protesting after a conservative club on campus held a watch party for a controversial documentary that members of the Pride Club say spreads dangerous and false propaganda about the transgender community.

CCSU’s chapter of Turning Point USA recently announced plans to host a screening of “What Is a Woman?” It’s a documentary created by conservative political commentator Matt Walsh.

After hearing the news, the CCSU Pride Club wrote a letter to the administration, petitioning officials to cancel the screening. Several other student clubs and faculty members helped show support for the club’s efforts.

“In the course of 12 hours … a bunch of seemingly apolitical clubs came together to show solidarity for trans people,” said Myles Place, the president of CCSU Pride Club, which organized the protest effort with other club leaders.

On Wednesday, CCSU President Zulma Toro released a statement, saying: “As a public university we cannot ban events based on the offensive or hateful ideas they embrace.”

“While I find the premise of the film to be odious, we must remind ourselves that silencing a few will only serve, ultimately, to silence us all,” Toro said. “The best way to combat opinions with which we do not agree or find offensive, is not by suppression, but by exercising our right of free speech and peaceful expression.”

Marcelina Halas, president and founder of CCSU’s chapter of Turning Point USA, began the club last year. Halas said that her club members voted on what they wanted to watch and that the screening happening during Trans Awareness Week was coincidental.

Thursday afternoon, the Pride Club, joined by students and faculty, and followed by local TV news stations, marched from the Student Center to Davidson Hall, chanting: “Trans rights are human rights.”

Briar Greenvall, a freshman who is transgender, joined the march.

“The idea of a club at a university that is supposed to be accepting showing a movie like this is just disgusting,” Greenvall said.

CCSU Pride Club members also shared papers that contained a QR link to a Google document with sources debunking several of Walsh’s claims in the film.

The Pride Club went on to host its own movie night at the same time as the Turning Point USA documentary showing – and both clubs watched their films without incident.

Samuel Pappas is the Fall 2022 Gwen Ifill Integrity in Journalism Intern. He assists the Accountability Project Investigative News Team.