Lawyer demands inquiry into trans ‘gag’ by university The Sunday Times 26.01.20

The original article is here.

A law professor has asked the universities minister to set up an inquiry into the “suppression of academic freedom” after complaining of being blacklisted from events and jobs because of “spurious allegations” that she is transphobic.

Rosa Freedman, a professor at Reading University and one of the UK’s leading human rights experts, says senior university managers seeking to “silence, block and gag” are acting “in the style of tinpot dictators”.

Her demand for a “full investigation”, in a letter to her MP, Oliver Dowden, and to the universities minister, Chris Skidmore, comes after events involving female academics at Oxford Brookes, Edinburgh and Essex universities were scrapped following protests by students and trans activists.

The protesters objected to feminist academics questioning policies that give transgender people access to female-only spaces such as women’s changing rooms, prisons and sports teams.

Freedman, an adviser to the UN, complains in the letter that she was “disinvited” from speaking on a panel on anti-semitism this week at Essex University to mark Holocaust Memorial Week.

She was told that “the central university had problems with the third speaker (ie me), that there was a need to include a student member of the panel and that the committee had issues with me speaking at the event”, she says in her letter to her MP.

Freedman fears she was turned down for a post at Essex and is no longer invited to lecture, teach or speak at events at the university, one of the leading centres of human rights, “owing to spurious and non-evidenced accusations of transphobia”.

In December Jo Phoenix, a criminology professor at the Open University, was “no-platformed” at Essex after some staff accused her of being “anti-trans” and “exclusionary”.

Essex University said it had approached Freedman as a possible speaker, but denied a formal invitation had been made or withdrawn.

It said it was already reviewing the cancellation of the event involving Phoenix.

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