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Kathleen Stock

Hounded out of academic life


Until last week Kathleen Stock had been a professor of philosophy at the University of Sussex for 18 years, says Emma Barnett on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour. She was forced out for her gender-critical views. “There was a massive protest … of about 100 students holding placards saying ‘Stock Out’, ‘Quit Stock’, ‘Fire Her’, setting off flares, writing graffiti,” Stock tells Barnett. She was called a “spiteful bootlicker”. She arrived at the university recently to find walls plastered with posters carrying her name. “It was like some surreal anxiety dream … I turned around, ran back up to the train station, hyperventilating, and got the first train I could home.” The next day, she quit.

Stock, 49, is adamant she isn’t transphobic. In her book Material Girls: Why Reality Matters for Feminism she says it is impossible for people to change their biological sex. But she is clear that trans people deserve lives free from fear and need laws that protect them from discrimination and violence. “Yesterday I got an email from a trans man thanking me for all the support I gave him while he was at Sussex.” Stock, who came out as gay late in life and lives with her partner and two sons from a previous marriage, is proudly pro-LGBT. But she believes “the human species is sexually dimorphic” and these differences are important when talking about medicine, education and sport. She also blames senior colleagues for fanning the flames of protests against her. “I think most of the students who protested against me haven’t got a clue what I actually think.”

Despite the hell unleashed at Sussex, “the bullying campaign against Kathleen has backfired”, says Julie Bindel in UnHerd. “Those who sought to ruin her life and career, most of whom are not transgender, have been exposed as misogynistic totalitarians.” I’m not going to stop now, says Stock. Having fingers pointed at you is “like some sort of medieval experience”. But I’m a professor, says Stock, who was awarded an OBE earlier this year for services to higher education. “My duty is to educate. My duty is to tell people what I think.”