Resist transphobia at UEA

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[content note: this description contains references to transphobia and mental health]

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Recently, UEA invited Professor Kathleen Stock to deliver a research seminar within the Philosophy department. At uea(su) we are concerned that Stock's presence on our campus would create a hostile environment for trans students, particularly trans women, who Stock has consistently targeted within her writings and social media presence. We are disappointed UEA has chosen to legitimise such views by inviting Stock to campus.

We believe that academic freedom and the right to debate issues is incredibly important to any university, but that this should not come at the cost of the right for students and staff to feel safe and be free from harassment at their place of study and work. 

We know Professor David Richardson, UEA's Vice Chancellor, takes issues of harassment and hate crime seriously. His membership of a national taskforce to reduce harassment and sexual violence at UK universities led to UEA's work on the Never OK campaign and he has recently taken up a position of Chair of another national taskforce to address racial harassment at UK universities.

Changing The Culture is the report published by the taskforce on harassment, of which David Richardson was a member. The report states that:

"universities have a responsibility to ensure a safe environment for students and the evidence shows that students are affected by incidents of harassment, hate crime and violence against women"

The same report also highlights the harassment that trans students face, and reports that one in three trans students had experienced at least one form of bullying or harassment on campus and 51% of trans students had considered dropping out of university. It also highlights that there is: "a particular issue around how accepted trans students feel on campus. This is echoed outside of the higher education sector. The University of Sussex’s Hate Crime Unit’s (SHCU) submission to a recent Women and Equalities Committee inquiry states that trans people ‘…are doubly victimised and affected, above and beyond other commonly stigmatised and harassed groups."

David Richardson is rightly proud of his work to date to prevent harassment on campuses, and we call upon him and his colleagues to stand by the recommendations of the report he contributed to, to prioritise the wellbeing of students and staff, and to stand against those who seek to undermine the rights of trans people.