Being a trans-sceptical academic is a risky business

When professors need security guards, academic freedom is in real trouble.



Selina Todd, a professor of modern history at the University of Oxford, has told the Telegraph that she has been assigned security guards, by the university authorities, following threats from trans activists.

Todd is among a number of ‘gender-critical’ academics who have faced threats and harassment due to their heretical views, particularly their concerns about the effect gender self-identification may have on women’s rights and spaces.

Her research focuses on women’s lives, and she has also been marked out for arguing that women who posed as men in the past ‘were often lesbians seeking to protect themselves, or because they want to do jobs that were only available to men’.

She says that two students made her aware that threats against her were being circulated on email networks. The university, having accessed the risks, have given her ‘two big burly guys’ to sit in on her lectures.

Todd says she is not ‘transphobic’. But since entering into the trans debate she has been demonised, faced with demands she be sacked, and told that it was ‘impossible for a transgender student to be taught by me’.

Todd isn’t the only one. In recent years, trans-sceptical academics have become pariahs on campus. Kathleen Stock, professor of philosophy at the University of Sussex, has faced protests due to her view that biological sex cannot be changed and her criticisms of proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act.

Rosa Freedman, professor of law, conflict and global development at the University of Reading, is another critic of the proposed changes. She was recently confronted outside Reading’s students’ union – a male protester told her she was a ‘transphobic Nazi who should get raped’.

These intolerant mobs are posing a real threat to academic freedom. And they have been enabled by the cowardice of universities and other members of faculty who have allowed this to go on for far too long. Anyone who believes in academic freedom must take a stand against this.

Picture by: Getty.

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farkennel smith

28th January 2020 at 1:31 pm

Feminism eats itself.Surely there`s some way we can blame white men for this?

Danny Rees

27th January 2020 at 2:46 pm

Violence and threats of violence are of course wrong and people should be free to speak without such threats.

The problem is Spiked views any criticism or dissent towards “trans skeptical” feminists as some form of violent oppression. Even calling a feminist a “transphobe” is deemed violent by Spiked.

David Cockayne

26th January 2020 at 10:04 am

The university is to be congratulated for having acted pragmatically rather than virtue signalling by issuing policy statements containing terms like ‘take very seriously’ and ‘unacceptable behaviour’.

Speak softly but carry a big stick.

Claire D

24th January 2020 at 2:28 pm

As far as the university authorities are concerned they need to put in place a zero tolerance strategy, whereby threats of violence towards faculty members mean immediate expulsion, that would put a stop to it.

Claire D

24th January 2020 at 2:42 pm

The universities would probably lose a few thousand in fees to start with until the reality kicked in with the student activists realising their chance for a university education was finished for at least one year. This would soon balance out with increased confidence amongst staff and normal healthy students, as well as attracting more of the same to apply, safe in the knowledge that here was an educational institution that was run efficiently and safely.

Cedar Grove

26th January 2020 at 7:13 pm

Common sense, regrettably, doesn’t apply in these cases.

Claire D

24th January 2020 at 2:13 pm

I hope all of them have reported these threats of violence to the police.

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