‘Anti-trans’ artist threatening legal action after university postponed her fine-art workshops
An artist whose workshops were postponed by Oxford Brookes university after the LGBT+ society condemned her views as “trans-exclusionary” is threatening legal action.
Rachel Ara was due to hold fine art workshops and give a talk to Oxford Brookes students on November 19, but announced that morning via Twitter that the university had postponed it.
Following this, she announced that she is considering legal action after being contacted by lawyers specialising in free speech issues.
The university said the lecture was postponed because it “had not been booked through the usual process”.
The Oxford Brookes LGBT+ Society had written a letter to the university’s pro-vice chancellor condemning her invitation to speak, saying that Ara, 54, who is a London-based conceptual and data artist, is a “trans exclusionary radical feminist”.
The letter, which was signed by the president of Oxford Brookes’ LGBT+ society and the chairman of the university’s Labour Party club, said: “Rachel Ara is a trans exclusionary radical feminist (TERF) who frequently shares transphobic discourse on her social media. She has openly showed support for the ‘LGB Alliance’ which is openly transphobic and seeks to isolate trans people within the LGBTQ+ movement.
“She has also openly shown support for Selina Todd, who is a strong advocate of ‘A Woman’s Place’, a transphobic organisation acting under the guise of academic freedom.
“While this speaker may be invited under the pretence of academic freedom, we firmly believe that inviting such speakers infringes upon academic freedom at Oxford Brookes.”
Speaking to the Oxford Mail, Ara denied allegations of being transphobic and said, “The whole thing is upsetting and annoying.”
“I am gay myself and have been an active member of the community of years,” she said. “I have been going to marches for years.”
Sorry folks .. but my talk at Oxford has been cancelled tonight. Some twitter user @terfsoutofart (I assume some disenfranchised man) has galvanised students to complain about me. I guess making art about feminist issues is a bit too challenging for today’s youth! #waronwomen pic.twitter.com/DAfQkYjXDz
— Rachel A R A (@rachelara) November 19, 2019
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Ara, who this year exhibited work at the V&A and the Venice Biennale, told The Times that she is “very much up” for legal action.
“There is a small number of people on the art scene who don’t like women,” she said.“I was going to be talking about feminism and art, and the difficulties that exist for women trying to break through. I’m not transphobic. I have been openly gay for 35 years. I think this movement is misogynistic — they are only targeting women. It is misogyny. I suspect they are straight men who are using the LGBT+ movement for their ends.”
Oxford Brookes said: “The university took the decision to postpone a lecture on Tuesday as it had not been booked through the usual process for confirming external speakers. Postponement will allow appropriate time to ensure this process takes place.
“Oxford Brookes is an open environment where academic freedom and freedom of speech are fundamental to our functioning, including debate and the challenging of views. Within this context and our statutory duties, visiting speakers are offered the same freedom of speech within the law as staff and students.”