Skip to main content


The nasty side of the gender wars 

Belinda Jiao/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

Female academics are facing “death threats, witch-hunts and lost livelihoods”, says Janice Turner in The Times. Why? For taking the wrong side in the “gender wars”. The latest victim is Kathleen Stock, a philosophy professor at Sussex University. Protesters have plastered walls with posters demanding that she be sacked and let off flares beside a sign reading “Stock Out”. A new Instagram account, Anti Terf Sussex (Terf stands for “Trans-exclusionary radical feminist”), has menacingly warned that if she isn’t sacked, “you’ll see us around”.

Stock’s crime is arguing that biological sex is “immutable” and that in some cases, such as in prisons, rape counselling and sport, it should take precedence over gender identity to protect women’s rights. This is a “mainstream opinion” protected under the 2010 Equality Act. But her tormenters believe “trans people literally change sex”, and that in granting her freedom of speech, the university is discriminating against the trans community. Stock is “no right-wing bigot” – she’s a “a mild-mannered, dry-humoured, left-wing lesbian” who calls her students by their preferred pronouns. But that’s not enough for these deranged and totalitarian “ideologues”. Sussex’s vice-chancellor, Adam Tickell, has rightly stuck up for Stock. But how many others “have kept their heads down”? It’s time for all of us to “come out of the shadows” and “show a tiny proportion of the courage Kathleen Stock shows every day”.