Jenni Murray, best known for hosting BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, has pulled out of a talk at Oxford University for “personal reasons,” after students accused her of being “transphobic.”
BBC broadcaster Murray had been due to speak at a Oxford University History Society event on Saturday (November 10) for the group’s “Powerful British women in History and Society” series.
However, Oxford University History Society said in a Facebook post on Wednesday (November 7) that Murray would no longer speak at the event, which is being hosted by Oxford University’s Oriel College.
“We are sad to announce that Jenni Murray is now unable to make it to this event, and has cancelled for personal reasons,” the post read.
Student groups accuse Jenni Murray of being “transphobic”
It comes after three groups, run by Oxford University Student Union, signed an open letter calling on their institute to “publicly condemn” Murray and “if possible, cancel the event.”
“Oxford SU LGBTQ+ campaign believe that inviting publically transphobic speakers to the university, without challenge, further marginalises and unnecessarily compromises the welfare of trans students and staff,” the letter read.
The letter was signed by Oxford SU LGBTQ+ campaign, Oxford University LGBTQ+ Society, and Oxford SU Women’s Campaign.
It went on to cite an article by Murray in The Sunday Times from March 2017, which was headlined: “Be trans, be proud — but don’t call yourself a ‘real woman.'”
“The decision to invite Murray to Oxford in this capacity, to promise her a microphone and the undivided and uncritical attention of a room, is a decision to propagate, validate, and normalise institutionalised transphobia.”
In the piece, Murray insists that trans people, who she refers to as “transsexuals” and “transvestites,” should be treated with respect.
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However, she goes on to highlight the transition of Church of England reverend Carol Stone, who she misgenders, saying that she felt “anger” that “a man claimed to have become a woman.”
She also criticised India Willoughby, writing: “India held firmly to her belief that she was a ‘real woman,’ ignoring the fact that she had spent all her life before her transition enjoying the privileged position in our society generally accorded to a man.”
The Oxford SU LGBTQ+ campaign letter, posted on the group’s Facebook page on November 6, added: “[Murray’s] views, which clearly reflect a lack of engagement with the vast majority of actual trans people, and are in sum deeply harmful to trans women and trans feminine people, contributing to and exacerbating the harassment, marginalisation, discrimination, and violence that they already face.”
It went on to highlight the coverage of trans rights by the press, criticising the “obsessive and sustained media focus on trans people…and the consistent prioritising of voices like Murray’s over those of trans people.”
The letter concludes: “The decision to invite Murray to Oxford in this capacity, to promise her a microphone and the undivided and uncritical attention of a room, is a decision to propagate, validate, and normalise institutionalised transphobia.”
Murray and Oxford History Society did not immediately respond for comment.
Oxford SU LGBTQ+ campaign condemns jenni Murray’s “transphobic” views
A spokesperson for the Oxford SU LGBTQ+ campaign, which was involved in organising the open letter, told PinkNews: “The Oxford SU LGBTQ+ Campaign condemns the invitation of Jenni Murray by the Oxford University History Society on the grounds that she has repeatedly and publicly expressed transphobic and transmisogynistic views.
“We believe that there is an important distinction between free speech and hate speech, and that to give a platform to a speaker who has endorsed transphobic hate speech would be to create a hostile and degrading environment for transgender students and staff at the University of Oxford.”
The spokesperson said the group is urging the university to “carefully consider the implications of inviting speakers who endorse hate speech for future events.”