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Trans ideology is destroying the university

Gender-critical academics have become the enemy within.

Lauren Smith

Topics Feminism Free Speech UK

Academia is now hostile to free thought – especially when it comes to the trans debate. Few cases demonstrate this as clearly as that of London-based sociologist Dr Laura Favaro.

Last week, Favaro started a crowdfunding campaign to help her take her employer – City, University of London – to an employment tribunal. Favaro claims she was ostracised and ultimately dismissed by her university after writing about some of her research findings, which showed that gender-critical academics are terrified of openly expressing their views.

In 2020, Favaro joined City as a postdoctoral research fellow, where her main topic of study was the debate surrounding sex and gender. As part of her research, Favaro conducted interviews with 50 gender-studies academics on both sides of the trans debate, across multiple disciplines and universities. The gender-critical feminists she interviewed told her they face unrelenting harassment and intimidation. Some even claimed that their career progression had been blocked because of their views. Last year, Favaro wrote up some of these findings in Times Higher Education. Her research left her ‘in no doubt that a culture of discrimination, silencing and fear has taken hold across universities in England and many countries beyond’.

Favaro was warned by her interviewees that her research could get her into serious trouble. It was not uncommon, Favaro said, for participants to tell her that ‘everybody is going to hate you’ for talking openly about the culture of silence around sex and gender in universities. After her THE piece was published, those warnings quickly came true.

Favaro claims on her crowdfunding page that City was bombarded with vexatious complaints, which branded her research ‘unethical’. An investigation by City found these claims to be baseless. Nevertheless, she says she was ostracised and frozen out by her department. She claims she faced bullying and harassment from a senior colleague. She also alleges there were attempts to persuade her to destroy interview transcripts. Eventually, she was dismissed, despite being on a fixed-term contract. City is then alleged to have prevented her from accessing the data she collected, and to have locked the email account she had used to communicate with participants in her study. In short, Favaro allegedly faced exactly the kind of hostile treatment that her research was trying to draw attention to.

There is now a long line of academics who have been attacked and censored for speaking out against trans orthodoxy. Philosophy professor Kathleen Stock, author of Material Girls: Why Reality Matters for Feminism, was infamously hounded out of her role at the University of Sussex in 2021, after students waged a relentless campaign against her. In 2018, Rosa Freedman at the University of Reading found her door covered in urine after she spoke out against gender self-identification. Selina Todd, a professor of modern history at Oxford University, revealed in 2020 that she needs bodyguards to accompany her to lectures. The list goes on.

Academic research has also previously been blocked in order to appease the trans lobby. Back in 2017, psychotherapist James Caspian had his proposal to research the phenomenon of ‘detransitioning’ – when people regret transitioning and revert to living in line with their biological sex – turned down by Bath Spa University. Bath Spa was apparently worried that Caspian’s ‘politically incorrect’ research might attract criticism of the university on social media.

Academic freedom is under serious threat. Instead of standing by their academics and defending their right to pursue the truth, universities are caving into trans ideologues at every turn. They have become nakedly ideological institutions, where intolerance is given free rein. We need more academics to speak out against this shameful behaviour.

Lauren Smith is an editorial assistant at spiked.

Picture by: Getty.

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Topics Feminism Free Speech UK

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