Lecturer and trans woman at Herts Uni condemns professor’s letter as “transphobic”

Pride flag. Picture: Pixabay.

Pride flag. Picture: Pixabay. - Credit: Archant

A University of Hertfordshire lecturer and trans woman has joined other UK academics in condemning remarks made by a professor at another university as “transphobic”.

Dr Ashley Spindler. a researcher at the centre for Astrophysics Research at Herts Uni, signed the letter in response to views expressed by University of Sussex Professor Kathleen Stock in the Sunday Times.

Prof Stock penned a letter to the newspaper, last week, alleging that the relationship between trans charity Stonewall UK and UK Universities was "threatening academic freedom".

She also said that academics want to question Stonewall's belief that "female-attracted trans women with penises are 'lesbians'."

In a response letter - signed by academics up and down the country - it is argued that 'free speech' by colleagues is welcomed.

"But until all LGBTQIA+ people can live, work and learn in our universities without fear or intimidation," the letter said. "It is vital that we stand up and say that we support the rights of trans and other gender-diverse people to be who they are."

Dr Spindler, in signing the letter with other Herts Uni colleagues, said Prof Stock's remarks were "transphobic."

"The co-signatories represent a minority voice in academia, as shown by the fact that she only found 30 people to sign her letter to the Sunday Times, while response letters have registered thousands of signatures," she said.

"As a trans woman and an academic researcher, I emphatically disagree with the [first] letter."

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Her colleague at the Human Geography department, Dr Adam Barker, said he was "horrified" by Prof Stock's letter.

"The rampant transphobia in higher education is not likely more or less than in society as a whole, but scholars have a duty of care to our students," Dr Barker said.

"The University of Hertfordshire has taken positive steps [...] and there has been a move to establish gender neutral bathrooms around campus."

Dr Spindler added that during the short time she has worked at Hertfordshire, more than nine months, she has not had "issues as a queer person."".

"I think that equality, diversity and inclusion policies and training are strengthening academia," she added.

Over 10 Uni of Herts lecturers have joined over 6,000 academics in signing the response letter.