Students demand Sussex uni fire anti-trans professor Kathleen Stock – PinkNews
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University of Sussex professor Dr Kathleen Stock
A group of LGBT+ students at the University of Sussex are demanding that the institution fire philosophy professor Kathleen Stock over her trans-exclusionary views.
Stock – who once said “trans women are still males with male genitalia” – has faced considerable backlash over her views on gender identity. She has also called for trans women to be excluded from certain women-only spaces.
On Wednesday (6 October), students at the University of Sussex launched a campaign calling on the university to terminate Stock’s employment over her past comments about gender identity.
An Instagram account has been set up by a group claiming to be made up of trans and non-binary students. In a mission statement posted to social media, the group said Stock has caused “damage” with her “gender critical” views.
“We’ve f**king had enough,” it wrote.
The students branded Stock a “transphobe” and accused her of “espousing a bastardised version of ‘radical feminism’ that excludes and endangers trans people”.
Stock has previously denied that she is transphobic.
“How feminist do you think it is to define a person’s social role and access to public spaces by their sexual organs?” the group wrote.
They continued: “Transphobes like Stock are anti-feminist, anti-queer and anti-intellectual, they are harmful and dangerous to trans people.
“They’re spiteful bootlickers, with Stock alone spitting out years worth of tweets, articles and organising that makes her distaste for our existence abundantly clear.
“But guess what? We are not up for debate. We cannot be reasoned out of existence. And we will not let people try to.”
A post shared by kathleen stock is a transphobe (@antiterfsussex)
The group went on to criticise the University of Sussex for continuing to employ Stock, suggesting that the philosophy professor has been allowed 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.
They closed out their mission statement: “Our demand is simple: fire Kathleen Stock. Until then, you’ll see us around.”
According to a social media post by a lecturer at the University of Sussex, students subsequently put up posters condemning Stock’s record of making anti-trans comments.
The posters said Stock “makes trans students unsafe” and slammed the university for continuing to pay her. The posters were subsequently removed by security, according to a university lecturer.
Adam Tickell, vice-chancellor at the University of Sussex, condemned the student campaign in a statement and defended Kathleen Stock from criticism.
“We are investigating activity on our campus which appears to have been designed to attack professor Kathleen Stock for exercising her academic freedoms,” Tickell said.
“Disturbingly, this has included pressuring the university to terminate her employment.
“Everyone at the university has the right to be free from harassment and intimidation. We cannot and will not tolerate threats to cherished academic freedoms and will take any action necessary to protect the rights of our community.”
A spokesperson for the university added that they were “extremely concerned” by the student campaign, which they characterised as “harassment” of Stock.
“As a university community, we met be able to have complex discussions without bullying or harassment. We will always take swift action when this occurs.
“Our role as a university is to facilitate such conversations to advance shared understanding and common agreement. We insist that these are carried out respectfully and are always protective of our staff and students.”
The University of Sussex has faced a storm of criticism on social media over its handling of the student campaign. The hashtag #ShameOnSussexUni started trending in the UK on Twitter on Thursday (7 October) as the backlash intensified.
#ShameOnSussexUni for defending transphobia over trans people's safety and education
— Katy Montgomerie 🦗 (@KatyMontgomerie) October 7, 2021
Solidarity with the students at Sussex Uni ✊❤️ Kathleen Stock is one of biggest transphobes in Britain, and should be nowhere near a teaching establishment. #ShameOnSussexUni
— India Willoughby (@IndiaWilloughby) October 7, 2021
When are we going to have an open and honest debate about transphobia in academia?#ShameOnSussexUni for silencing their students protesting about transphobic academics at their university. Why isn’t their free speech being protected, rather than silencing uncomfortable truths? pic.twitter.com/eUHHUCRwH1
— Helen🏳️⚧️💙 (@mimmymum) October 7, 2021
Many “gender critical” feminists used the hashtag to criticise the University of Sussex for taking too long to issue a statement condemning the student campaign.
Kathleen Stock first faced backlash from the UK’s LGBT+ community in 2018 when she claimed that “trans women are still males with male genitalia”.
“I am definitely not saying that trans women are particularly dangerous – they are definitely not,” Stock said at the time.
“Most trans people are law abiding and wouldn’t dream of harming anyone.
“However, many trans women are still males with male genitalia, many are sexually attracted to females, and they should not be in places where females undress or sleep in a completely unrestricted way.”
Stock – who has denied that she is transphobic – found herself at the centre of controversy when she was awarded an OBE. Announcing the honour on Twitter, Stock branded LGBT+ charity Stonewall “a threat to freedom of speech” in a diatribe about “gender identity ideology”.
In January, 600 philosophers signed a letter criticising the decision to give Stock an OBE. In the letter, the academics expressed concern about a “tendency to mistake transphobic fear mongering for valuable scholarship, and attacks on already marginalised people for courageous exercises of free speech”.
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The philosophers said Stock had become “best known” for her “trans exclusionary public and academic discourse on sex and gender” and for her opposition to reform of the Gender Recognition Act (GRA).
PinkNews has contacted Kathleen Stock for comment.
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