Edinburgh University transphobic event is unacceptable
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We are members of the University of Edinburgh staff and student community concerned about the rise of transphobia on our campus. As a collective of PG students, we write this statement to unequivocally condemn transphobia.
The recent announcement of a transphobic ‘Women’s Sex-Based Rights’ event hosted by Edinburgh University Moray House on the 5th of June is unacceptable.
We are calling for this event to be cancelled immediately on the grounds that it: (1) affords credibility in an academic context to views expressing hate and phobic sentiments towards members of the University community, (2) puts our trans and non-binary colleagues and friends at risk of physical and psychological harm, (3) provides material support to speakers with a transphobic agenda, and (4) seems to contravene the University’s own policies on equality and diversity.
We disagree with the notion of transphobia as a legitimate academic debate. As feminist academics we welcome debates on the complexities of gender and sexuality but strongly believe that debates that are premised on denying the rights and legitimacy of a marginalized group in society are not fair debates. The University of Edinburgh should not be a safe-haven for hate speech. In facilitating this event, the University is allowing a situation to go ahead that will leave students and staff feeling unsafe, excluded, and unwelcome. By providing space and other material resources for this event, the University of Edinburgh is affording credibility and legitimacy to hateful rhetoric which is extremely damaging to trans and non-binary people as well as other marginalized groups in Edinburgh and the UK.
We furthermore fear that the speakers and attendees may potentially act in ways that would make the central campus area unsafe for trans and non-binary students and staff during and after the event. Similar events have been followed with stickering of campus and the city with hate messages.
The University should not provide space and other resources to speakers who are vehemently opposed to the dignity of marginalised members of our community. We believe this to be in contravention of the University’s own policies on equality, diversity, including our policy on Trans Equality. Our view is that there is misinformation, misunderstanding, and fearmongering presenting cisgender women’s rights as being opposed to trans and non-binary people’s rights. We affirm that trans women's rights are women's rights and that cis and trans women should be standing together to combat gender oppression. Transgender and non-binary people have always been a part of the academic community and we honour and respect our friends and colleagues.
We ask that the University of Edinburgh reconsiders hosting an event that will be so damaging to trans and non-binary people, as well as damaging to our wider academic community. We wish to remind the University that freedom of speech is not the same as entitlement to a platform.
We respectfully request that the ‘Women’s Sex-Based Rights’ event be cancelled.
For those wishing to support trans rights, we encourage attending the Rally for Trans Solidarty on the day of the event (5th of June; more info https://www.facebook.com/events/423232341560610/ as well as the ‘Transgender: Intersectional/International’ Conference being organised by University students & staff on May 28th and 29th (https://transgender-intersectional-international.com
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