Equalities minister Kemi Badenoch says she is ‘appalled’ at the treatment Kathleen Stock and says the feminist professor is ‘in step with the majority of the population’ after she quit Sussex University over trans rights row
- Kemi Badenoch said she was ‘appalled’ at way Prof. Kathleen Stock was treated
- Stock left job at University of Sussex after facing fury over gender critical views
- Students protested at the Brighton campus and demanded university sack her
- Equalities minister said nobody should face bullying or harassment at workplace
Equalities minister Kemi Badenoch has spoken out against the abuse a university professor has faced for her views on gender identity.
Kathleen Stock, a professor of philosophy at the University of Sussex, had faced calls to be sacked amid accusations of transphobia.
But earlier this month, the University of Sussex vice-chancellor said the institution would not tolerate threats to ‘academic freedoms’ after the campaign to remove Prof Stock from her position.
Last week, Prof Stock said she will be leaving her job after ‘an absolutely horrible time’ and ‘a very difficult few years’.
The philosophy professor was at the centre of a blazing row – and a student-led protest – at the university after saying she believes gender identity does not outweigh biological sex ‘when it comes to law and policy’.
Equalities minister Kemi Badenoch (pictured) backed Kathleen Stock and told the Sky News’ Trevor Phillips On Sunday programme she is ‘appalled’ at the way Ms Stock has been treated
Kathleen Stock (left), a professor of philosophy at the University of Sussex, had faced calls to be sacked amid accusations of transphobia but has since decided to resign her position
She also said that people cannot change their biological sex, sparking anger from protesters who accused her of ‘transphobia’.
Equalities minister Kemi Badenoch backed the professor and told the Sky News’ Trevor Phillips On Sunday programme she is ‘appalled’ at the way Ms Stock has been treated.
She added: ‘I went to Sussex University and I tweeted when I saw the university statement backing her, nobody should face bullying or harassment in the workplace.
‘That is actually another thing that the Equality Act looks at, bullying and harassment.
‘I don’t think she should lose her job. I think that she has every right to hold the beliefs… I think she is probably in step with the majority of the population.
‘What we in Government are trying to do is show that we do believe that trans people should be free to live their lives as they wish, but where people see a conflict, and that conflict has tended to be around single-sex spaces and the definition of gender reassignment and how gender critical feminists, as they are known, believe that those rights are in conflict, what we can do in order to provide clarity.’
Banners saying ‘Stock Out’ had also been held alongside burning flares and scores of people were criticising her online under the Twitter hashtag #ShameOnSussexUni
Announcing her departure on Twitter on Thursday, Prof Stock said: ‘This has been a very difficult few years, but the leadership’s approach more recently has been admirable and decent. I hope that other institutions in similar situations can learn from this.
‘Am particularly glad to see University emphasising that bullying and harassment anyone for their legally held beliefs is unacceptable in their workplace.’
Ms Badenoch also insisted that while the Government does not believe in gender self-identification for trans people, stating that there should be a ‘process’ to get gender recognition certificates which involves medical professionals.
She said: ‘The Government’s position is that we will do everything we can to support trans people in particular, all LGBT people, but trans people in particular when it comes to healthcare, because they have different healthcare needs from other LGBT people.
‘However, we do not think that goes as far as self ID, we do believe that there should be a process to get a gender recognition certificate, and the process does mean involving medical professionals as well.’
When told some trans activists would say the fact she does not accept the statement trans women are women is in itself a form of violence, Ms Badenoch said it is ‘sad that the debate has turned into one of name-calling’.
Posters put up in the tunnel from Falmer station to the university’s campus earlier this month said she ‘makes trans students unsafe’ and ‘we’re not paying £9,250 a year for transphobia’
In her own words: What does Kathleen Stock believe about gender and trans issues?
Kathleen Stock explained her views on trans issues in written evidence to Parliament in November 2020 here:
- Womanhood and manhood reflect biological sex, not gender or gender identity;
- The claim ‘transwomen are women’ is a fiction, not literally true;
- Sexual orientation (being gay, being lesbian) is determined by same-sex attraction, not attraction to gender identity;
- Spaces where women undress and sleep should remain genuinely single-sex, in order to protect them;
- Children with gender identity disorders should not be given puberty blockers as minors.
She added: ‘What I would ask people to do is actually look at what the policies are, what it is we’re doing in order to protect people of all types, whether they are LGBT, of different race, racial backgrounds, the different sexes.
‘We are a Government that believes in equality and fairness for all, and everything we’re doing is to make sure that we have an equal society, and we should not get to a point where having a different opinion becomes a reason to insult other people. That’s absolutely wrong.’
In the wake of her resignation, those behind anti-Stock protests, which have included spraying graffiti with the phrase ‘Stock Out’, took to social media to celebrate the professor’s departure.
In one post on Instagram the group shared an image of the Wicked Witch of the West from the Wizard of Oz with the phrase ‘Ding Dong the Witch is Dead’ – a song from the same film.
Instagram page Antitfersussex, who describe themselves as an unaffiliated network of queer and trans students at the university, also posted a statement in response to Ms Stock’s departure, in which they said ‘good f*****g riddance’.
In the statement, the group said: ‘This is a monumental victory for trans and non-binary students, who have protested the ways that this university has enabled transphobia, abuse and discrimination.
‘The full weight of a colonial institution, the national media circuit and government ministers, were no match for the unity and solidarity of the queer and trans communities at Sussex University.’
In a letter to staff issued on Friday, University of Sussex’s Vice Chancellor Adam Tickell said they had ‘vigorously’ defended Professor Kathleen Stock’s right to ‘exercise her academic freedom and lawful freedom of speech, free from bullying and harassment of any kind’
Professor Stock, 48, an expert in gender and sexual orientation, had been branded a ‘transphobe’ by some outraged students who called for her to be fired in wake of her comments on gender.
Posters put up in the tunnel from Falmer station to the university’s campus earlier this month said she ‘makes trans students unsafe’ and ‘we’re not paying £9,250 a year for transphobia’.
Banners saying ‘Stock Out’ had also been held alongside burning flares and scores of people were criticising her online under the Twitter hashtag #ShameOnSussexUni.
The University’s Vice Chancellor Adam Tickell had strongly defended her ‘untrammelled’ right to ‘say what she thinks’, whilst more than 200 academics from other universities signed a letter calling out alleged abuse from ‘trans activist bullies’.
But on Friday, Professor Stock announced on Twitter that she was ‘sad to announce’ she is leaving her position, and added that she hoped ‘other institutions can learn from this’.
In a letter to staff, Sussex’s Vice Chancellor Adam Tickell said that the university had ‘vigorously’ defended her right to ‘exercise her academic freedom and lawful freedom of speech, free from bullying and harassment of any kind’.
But he added: ‘We had hoped that Professor Stock would feel able to return to work, and we would have supported her to do so.
‘She has decided that recent events have meant that this will not be possible, and we respect and understand that decision.
‘We will miss her many contributions, from which the University has benefited during her time here.’
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