Uni of Herts stand by decision for Professor Stock to host lecture, despite staff calls of transphobia

PUBLISHED: 06:59 10 February 2020

Professor Kathleen Stock will give a lecture at the University of Hertfordshire this spring. Picture: Supplied

Professor Kathleen Stock will give a lecture at the University of Hertfordshire this spring. Picture: Supplied

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The University of Hertfordshire has received criticism from its own lecturers after choosing philosophy professor Kathleen Stock to host an annual lecture.

Prof Stock, a gender-critical feminist, has been deemed by some as a transphobe for expressing views such as saying an individual cannot change their biological sex.

The University of Sussex lecturer will be delivering the Sir Francis Bacon lecture in Spring this year.

Senior Lecturer in English literature at Herts Uni, Christopher Lloyd, tweeted on the matter: "As #LGBTHM20 begins, I am very sad to say that a certain transphobic professor - Kathleen Stock - has been invited to give the Francis Bacon lecture at Uni of Herts.

"As a lecturer I do not stand for transphobia or any other kind of discrimination - be that against queer folks, people of colour, disabled people, and so on.

"This is not a matter of 'freedom of speech' nor 'no-platforming' - it's clear that Stock has numerous platforms (which she uses daily) and her speech is not being curtailed.

"The university is not upholding academic freedom by allowing transphobic views to be aired without consequence."

Christopher added that he would be posting more nearer to the event.

Prof Stock spoke to the WHTimes, saying: "These days there are usually a, thankfully, small number of faculty in every university I speak at who actively campaign against me, and a slightly wider group who don't understand the issues at stake and go along with it all, thinking I must be as bad as people say.

"But when they read and hear what I have to say, impressions are usually corrected for most people. I find it exhausting but worth it, because universities really need to be discussing the consequences of trans activism for public policy, women, children, and gay people."

READ MORE: Lecturer and trans woman at Herts Uni condemns professor's letter as "transphobic"

Dr Ashley Spindler, a lecturer at Herts Uni in astrophysics and a trans woman, has previously signed a letter condemning views expressed by Prof Stock.

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She said: "I believe that it's completely unacceptable for Herts to host Dr Stock for such a prestigious talk.

"Her views on trans people, particularly trans women, are repugnant and wrong, and have no place in a university that is currently flying the rainbow flag to honour LGBT History Month.

"Herts' strategic goals for the coming years include promoting a positive social impact and strengthening the diversity of our community, and I believe that inviting Dr Stock to speak goes directly against those goals.

"Herts is an open, diverse and welcoming community, and it is a disservice to our LGBT staff and students to allow transphobia dressed up as philosophy to be rewarded."

Responding to Dr Spindler, Prof Stock said: "I'd be happy to discuss this in public with Dr Spindler anytime - she is entitled to her opinion as long as she can back it up with argument.

"Otherwise it's just common abuse, which is a bit boring really.

"I'm a gay woman living with my fiancée, universities have to realise that there are a vast range of views on trans activism even amongst the LGBT population, and stop capitulating to a vocal but unrepresentative minority."

A spokesperson from the Uni of Herts said: "The university prides itself on welcoming a diverse range of speakers to our campus, providing different opinions to encourage debate and critical discussion among our students.

"We are also committed to promoting an equal, diverse and inclusive culture, and it is crucial that we listen to the views of our community and continue to ensure our campus is a welcoming place for all of our staff and students.

"Having taken into consideration the range of views expressed following the announcement of Professor Stock's lecture, we can confirm the lecture will go ahead as planned, as part of a wider programme of events which will include a range of speakers and an opportunity for debate and discussion."

Prof Stock said her lecture will focus on: "the popular buzzwords of diversity and inclusion, unpacking what they mean and why diversity and inclusion is a good thing.

She said: "I'll argue that they are great ideals for institutions to strive for in different ways, but also that they are sometimes misapplied to other areas where not such a great idea: e.g. concepts, or sexual desires.

"Those are not the sorts of things appropriately criticised for not being "diverse and inclusive" - or so I'll claim."

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