Backlash as students give International Women’s Day a trans rebrand The Times 03.03.20

The original article is here.

A university students’ union is under fire for rebranding International Women’s Day to include trans women.

Leicester students’ renaming of the celebration as International Womxn’s Day follows their election of a trans woman to the post of women’s officer. Dan Orr will represent the views of women on campus, speaking out about sexism and misogyny.

A female student at Leicester University told The Times that she was “very upset” by the election but feared speaking out publicly in case she was disciplined by the university.

“I am sure Dan Orr will try her best, but she has not grown up with the same prejudices that face girls and women [and] the stereotypes they have had to deal with that are related to the female body. I know she will have had her own prejudices to deal with but they are not the same,” she said. The Leicester students’ union has an LGBT+ officer and a trans and non-binary officer.

The student said it was “insulting” that the university had changed the name of the March 8 celebration, which dates back to 1917 when women gained suffrage in Soviet Russia but became a global day in 1967. “Of course we want to be inclusive, with women of colour, disabled women and gay women celebrated. But to change the name belittles everything women have had to fight for,” she added.

The university will call the day by its traditional name. However, in a newsletter to students, it said: “We use the term ‘womxn’ as a more inclusive spelling of ‘women’ that includes any person who identifies as a womxn.”

Kathleen Stock, a professor of philosophy at Sussex University, said: “Concepts aren’t ‘umbrellas’ or ‘shelters’ for whoever wants to come in — that’s not what concepts do. They’re cognitive tools,” adding that Ms Orr’s election was “a backwards step”.

Debbie Hayton, a trans woman and physics teacher, said: “A woman is not anybody who wants to be a woman. The day becomes meaningless if it is so inclusive it includes both sexes.”

Ms Orr had said in her manifesto: “Feminism is nothing without women of colour, migrant, disabled, queer, trans, black and sex-working women.”

The student union has been approached for comment.