Calls for major inquiry into ‘bullying of people who speak on gender issues’ welcomed by trans folk

Emma Powys Maurice October 12, 2021
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The trade union for UK academics has issued a statement in the row over anti-trans professor Kathleen Stock

University of Sussex professor Dr Kathleen Stock has faced criticism for her anti-trans views.

Prominent trans people have welcomed calls by a women’s rights group for a public enquiry into the alleged “bullying and harassment” of people who “speak out on gender issues”.

The Women’s Organisation has written to equalities minister Liz Truss requesting an urgent public enquiry or royal commission to investigate the backlash experienced by anti-trans campagners, according to The Telegraph.

It claims that trans-inclusive campaigns in policing, health, the arts, housing and sport represent a movement intent on “spreading propaganda, undermining our democratic rights and freedoms and damaging public trust”.

The group says that such campaigns are creating “a climate of fear in which organisations become reluctant to provide facilities for women only”.

“In workplaces up and down the country… staff members are reporting feeling intimidated to publish their pronouns in the workplace, fearing reprisals from other staff and union representatives if they do not subscribe to a particular workplace dogma relating to gender identity or shared facilities,” the letter complains.

Their petition comes amid protests at the University of Sussex over the employment of Kathleen Stock, a professor known for her trans-exclusionary views.

Stock has previously stated her belief that “trans women are still males with male genitalia” and called for trans women to be excluded from certain women-only spaces. She denies that she is transphobic.

jane fae, a director of TransActual UK and chair of Trans Media Watch, was among those who welcomed a wider public inquiry “to investigate what is happening in a balanced and open-minded fashion”.

fae said: “The fact is: trans people and their allies have been harassed and threatened at Labour and Lib Dem conferences.

“A prominent actor, David Paisley, has had to leave his home because of threats from anti-trans campaigners. Many ordinary, less famous trans people are living in fear because of the concerted anti-trans campaign in the UK. Yet only one small part of this is reported in the national media; and then only from the perspective of one ‘side’.”

The UK was recently singled out for its “baseless and concerning” anti-trans rhetoric in a damning report on rising hate crime levels.

fae added: “No-one should be threatened, harassed or bullied at their place of work simply for holding views or possessing certain characteristics. Where there are genuine threats to an individual’s safety they should be put before the appropriate authority, which may well be the police.”

Mayor of Bangor Owen Hurcum, who is non-binary, also welcomed the proposed inquiry, saying: “Funnily enough I’d have plenty to say on this.”

Author Shon Faye added: “Looking forward to being called to give evidence.”

Sussex students call for dismissal of Kathleen Stock

Kathleen Stock’s continued employment at Sussex university has been called into question after students launched a social media campaign calling on the administration to sack her and stop allowing her to “profit from transphobia”.

“The university is actively enabling and encouraging her transphobia by not firing her, which whilst not surprising, has continued for far too long,” the group wrote.

Photos show around a dozen protesters holding trans flags and a sign saying “Stock Out”. Several posters condemning Stock’s anti-trans record have also appeared around campus, saying she “makes trans students unsafe” and criticising the university for continuing to pay her.

The posters were promptly removed by security, according to a university lecturer.

The professor has the full support of the university’s vice chancellor, Adam Tickell, who strongly defended her on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Friday (8 October).

“It’s absolutely clear that all of our staff have an untrammelled right to say and believe what they think, so we take it very seriously if people try to prevent that right from being exercised,” he said.

“I’m really concerned that we have masked protesters putting up posters calling for the sacking of somebody for exercising her right to articulate her views.”

Stock also appears to have the backing of Liz Truss, as a source close to the minister told the Telegraph on Saturday that she agreed with many of the concerns outlined in the letter.

“Liz backs freedom of speech to the hilt and thinks this sort of cancel culture is corrosive to democracy and fundamentally illiberal,” according to the insider.

More: Kathleen Stock

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