Tuesday, 30 November, 2021
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UK professor embroiled in transgender row quits post

LONDON: A British academic at the centre of a row over transgender rights and free speech has quit her university teaching post after she was accused of transphobia.

Philosophy professor Kathleen Stock’s belief that people can change their gender but not their biological sex sparked a backlash and calls for her dismissal, reports AFP.

It is the latest in a series of similar rows at university campuses across the UK. Government ministers, some of whom have given support to the academic,  are currently pushing through legislation that will require universities in England to protect free speech.

Stock said on Thursday she had decided to leave her senior post at the University of Sussex after “a very difficult few years” and despite the “admirable and decent” approach to the issue by its leadership.

“I hope that other institutions in similar situations can learn from this,” she said on Twitter after the university announced her departure.

In its statement, Sussex said it had “vigorously and unequivocally defended her right to exercise her academic freedom and lawful freedom of speech, free from bullying and harassment of any kind”.

“We had hoped that Professor Stock would feel able to return to work, and we would have supported her,” it added.

“She has decided that recent events have meant that this will not be possible, and we respect and understand that decision.”

The feminist professor had previously complained that she had been unable to attend a debate because of fears for her safety on campus.

A group which had been campaigning for Stock’s dismissal described itself on Instagram as “an anonymous, unaffiliated group of queer, trans and non-binary students who will not allow our community to be slandered and harmed”.

Stock’s decision to resign came as more than 16,000 people signed an open letter urging the BBC to apologise for an article published online this week about trans women and lesbians.

It quoted lesbians who said they had felt “pressured into sex by some trans women”.

The open letter described the article as “incredibly dangerous” and based on a “deeply flawed study”.

In response the BBC said it must “ensure debate and make sure a wide a range of voices are heard”.