Academics closing down trans debate, claims Stuart Waiton The Times 27.11.18

The original article is here.

A sociologist pilloried for describing transgender equality as “biologically impossible” has accused fellow academics of stifling debate and forcing dissenting views into the shadows.

Stuart Waiton, a sociology and criminology lecturer, said a new publication called the Journal of Controversial Ideas, which allows academics to publish anonymously, is evidence of a “growing intolerance” of radical views in mainstream institutions and journals.

The Abertay University academic provoked anger when he described the transgender equality movement as “strange . . . because it appears to ask for something that is biologically impossible”. He questioned state support for transgender equality, such as gender-neutral lavatories and school uniforms, and attacked “the potentially authoritarian and censorious dynamic” of equality campaigners.

In a subsequent article in the Herald, Dr Waiton said he could sympathise with the aims of the anonymised journal after the controversy that his views created at Abertay, claiming that some students and academics had called for him to be “re-educated or taken out”.

He pointed towards “more extreme forms of intolerance” faced by other academics researching or writing about transgender issues. “It seems that to be a student activist today almost automatically means you will be on the side of censoring ideas rather than discussing them. What is far more worrying is the growing number of academics who have joined their number and call for the closing down of debates.”

He cited a petition signed by students and academics at King’s College London calling for an address by Joanna Williams, a critic of transgenderism, the #MeToo movement and feminism, to be cancelled on the grounds that her ideas could put transgender lives at risk.

Another letter, signed by 230 academics, accused organisers of a forthcoming debate in London, “Is Rising Ethnic Diversity a Threat?”, of promoting “white supremacist discourse”, despite scheduled appearances by Trevor Philips, former chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, and other respected figures.

Dr Waiton said: “What we have here is a letter signed by academics that shamefully tries to put pressure on public commentators, academics, the organisers and those hosting the discussion to stop what they are doing lest the dog-like public hear the whistle of an open debate about immigration.”