Over 200 academics from some of Britain’s largest universities have signed an open letter alleging abuse by ‘trans-activist bullies’.
The letter to the Sunday Times, signed by figures including Cambridge economist Sir Partha Dasgupta and physicist Sir Michael Pepper, follows months of heated debate on gender on campus, including a protest urging a professor to resign.
Under the headline ‘We do not want to bow to trans-activist bullies on campus’, the letter read:’ This is not just a matter of freedom of speech. It is also a matter of harassment and discrimination.
‘Universities create a frightening and hostile environment for staff and students who recognize that sex matters.
‘Most of the victims are women, and many are gay, lesbian or bisexual.’
Students demonstrating to demand the resignation of Associate Professor Kathleen Stock (pictured) have defended their decision to remain anonymous for the most part
Dr Shereen Benjamin, a senior lecturer in primary education at the University of Edinburgh, says she has been compared to a eugenicist and white supremacist for her views on gender.
During a panel discussion she organized, a speaker was attacked by a protester, and Dr. Benjamin herself says she has been cut off by students and staff, reports the Sunday Times.
Dr. Benjamin said: ‘The time leading up to the panel discussion was the most difficult four weeks of my working life. I had been called a bigot. I had no right to answer. ‘
Yesterday, a masked mob staged a protest at the University of Sussex demanding the departure of Professor Kathleen Stocks.
Stock, who works as a philosophy professor at the university, has been the subject of a student-led campaign about her views on trans rights.
Prof Stock, a curator for the activist group LGB Alliance – who has also been accused of ‘anti-trans’ policies – has been advised by police not to visit the campus and teach her lectures online due to concerns for her safety.
She has faced a stream of online abuse and has been branded as a ‘terf’ for writing that she disgreed with the ‘transwomen are women’ mantra and calls for female safe spaces.
The term ‘terf’, which stands for Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist, was directed at JK Rowling after she disagreed with an online article describing ‘people who are menstruating’.
The organization Sex Matters claims that 80 similar incidents of ‘bullying, harassment and non-platforming’ have taken place among academics over the past five years.
The allegations include prestigious universities such as Cambridge, Bristol, Durham and University College London.
Outside of higher education, other professionals have faced losing their jobs after expressing gender-critical views. Tax expert Maya Forstater, who lost her job after tweeting ‘men can’t become women’, won a labor court in July against her dismissal.
It is believed that the campaign is led by a group of 15 students who have previously been seen posing in balaclavas and holding up a sign that says ‘Stock out’. In the photo: Members of Anti Terf Sussex hide their faces in a photo of their protest on social media
Now academics want the Gender Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to review universities ‘policies that impose a radical gender orthodoxy and discriminate against those who recognize that gender matters’.
The letter adds: ‘It is now clear that many university leaders lack the courage or capacity to solve the problem. Almost all universities remain members of the Stonewall Champions Scheme, which preaches misleading information about the Gender Equality Act.
In her own words: What does Kathleen Stock think about gender and trans issues?
Kathleen Stock explained her views on trans issues in written documentation to Parliament in November 2020 here:
- Femininity and masculinity reflect biological gender, not gender or gender identity;
- The claim ‘transwomen are women’ is a fiction, not literally true
- Sexual orientation (being gay, being a lesbian) is determined by same-sex attraction, not gender identity attraction
- Spaces in which women dress and sleep should remain true single-sex to protect them;
- Children with gender identity disorders should not be given puberty blockers as minors.
‘The Employment Board’s ruling in the Maya State case found that gender-critical beliefs are protected under the Gender Equality Act, but universities have shown they will continue to discriminate against gender-critical academics and students.’
Another of the signatories, Selina Todd, professor of modern history at Oxford, stated that she has been facing ‘harassment and intimidation’ since 2018, after she suggested that the growing interest in being transgendered was a modern phenomenon .
She was even termed ‘transphobic’ by academics and students prior to a scheduled lecture. She said: ‘It is deeply uncomfortable to have one’s reputation and research constantly smeared and undermined and to know that one cannot expect full and vocal support from one’s employer and colleagues.
‘When a professor of philosophy is unable to go to work and do his work, the situation outside is critical. It’s an emergency. I do not say that easily. ‘
Dasgupta, emeritus professor of economics at Cambridge, added: ‘When I entered academic life [in the early 1970s] the thought never occurred to me that certain topics were off limits.
‘There is today in British universities even an attempt to regulate the way of thinking, not just speech and the written word. And we criticize authoritarian regimes elsewhere for suppressing the idea. Robust discourse is the core of academic life. ‘
Oxford University said it was committed to free speech. Bristol University said it was’ committed to freedom of expression and to the rights of students and staff to discuss difficult and sensitive issues’, while Edinburgh stated that it was committed to ‘facilitating an environment where everyone is able to ask, study and debate ‘.