Stonewall is using its power to stifle trans debate, say top academics The Times 16.06.19

The original article is here.

Diversity training provided to universities by the pressure group Stonewall is a threat to academic freedom in which “tendentious and anti-scientific claims are presented . . . as objective fact”, according to a letter to The Sunday Times signed by more than 30 academics.

The academics say that unless Stonewall clarifies that it “fully supports academic freedom of thought”, universities should “sever their links with this organisation altogether”.

The letter, which has been signed by several Oxford professors, comes as it can be revealed that universities have spent nearly £1m on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) training by campaign groups over the past five years.

This includes guidance for academics and students on using gender-neutral pronouns such as “zie” or “ey” and providing accessories such as breast binders for students seeking to change gender.

Freedom of information (FoI) requests to 40 universities reveal that between 2013 and 2018 they paid a total of £916,000 to three campaign groups: Stonewall, Gires and Gendered Intelligence.

Cardiff University spent the most on LGBT training, according to the FoI request: £77,186. The London School of Economics spent £65,674, while Oxford and Cambridge spent £55,000 between them.

Documents seen by The Sunday Times reveal that some Oxford colleges have a fund to help students who are changing gender to buy items such as “chest binders, concealing underwear and breast forms” that is known as the “gender expression fund”.

The letter says academics are being required to undergo “trans awareness training” in which the “tendentious” claims are made, such as the statement that “gender is how people interpret and view themselves” and that “one in 100 people are born with an intersex trait”.

Academics are also being told to ask students whether they prefer to be called he/she or they (or zie or ey) and discouraged from inviting speakers who deny “that trans people are the gender they say they are” to give public talks. Some fear that breaching the rules could lead to disciplinary action.

Selina Todd, professor of modern history at Oxford, said: “[This] is really pushing an agenda which is dogmatic and completely overruling freedom of speech . . . I am very scared that academics will start to lose their jobs.

“I feel uncomfortable. I’ve told my employer that I feel vulnerable and I’ve had students say they feel intimidated by what’s going on at this campus.”

The academics say they also feel “inhibited” from questioning assumptions such as that trans women are allowed to use female changing rooms. In the letter they claim there is an “intimidating” atmosphere on some campuses.

One of the letter’s signatories, Rosa Freedman, a law professor from Reading University, says she has been called “a transphobic Nazi who should get raped” because of her work on the legal implications of reforms that would make it easier for people to change gender.

A spokesman for Oxford said: “The university is committed to fostering an inclusive, diverse environment where students, staff and visitors, of all backgrounds feel protected, valued and respected. The university also prioritises protecting academic freedom.”

Stonewall said: ‘Our work with universities is vital: we know LGBT staff and students experience discrimination daily.”