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resisting transphobia on campus: show your support

resisting transphobia on campus

Show your support for resisting transphobia on campus by signing our petition: https://www.change.org/p/university-of-east-anglia-resist-transphobia-at-uea

We appreciate that the university has multiple considerations to balance when deciding whether to invite a speaker to campus. We understand that upholding freedom of speech is vital in an academic context and that the university has a responsibility to ensure it does so. Having studied the university’s Code of Practice on Freedom of Speech, we also know that freedom of speech is not an end in itself and that there are examples of speakers that the university would not invite to campus. There is a fundamental difference between banning a speaker and making a reasoned decision not to invite them based on analysis of risk. Kathleen Stock has regularly published articles online, including an article where she does not accept the Crown Prosecution Service’s definition of transphobia. A glance at these should demonstrate that there is a risk that her presence on campus could create a hostile environment for trans students and staff. 

This is not the first time UEA has drawn attention to itself for sympathising with anti-trans rhetoric. A well-publicised letter to The Guardian which amongst other things rejected the notion of staff training on trans-related issues, was signed by an academic from the School of Philosophy. At the time of publication, we raised our concerns at University Council, and received assurances that mandatory training for staff on such issues would be introduced. We are concerned that this latest invitation is indicative of a pattern, where our university is not taking seriously the effect of anti-trans speech on the mental health and wellbeing of LGBT+ students and staff at UEA. As such, we would be grateful for a progress update on the aforementioned mandatory training for staff. 

We know UEA’s Vice Chancellor takes issues of harassment seriously. Our collaboration on the sector-leading Never OK campaign, his membership of the Changing the Culture national taskforce to reduce harassment and sexual violence at UK universities, and recent appointment as Chair of a taskforce to address racial harassment clearly demonstrates a commitment to creating a better higher education experience for minority students.  

The Changing the Culture report highlighted the harassment that trans students face, reporting 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 also echoed outside of the higher education sector. The University of Sussex’s Hate Crime Unit’s (SHCU) submission to a Women and Equalities Committee inquiry states that trans people “…are doubly victimised and affected, above and beyond other commonly stigmatised and harassed groups.” 

We are disappointed that our reasonable and heartfelt representations on this issue have had little effect, and that UEA seems unaware of the damage it is doing to the reputation of its local and national work to reduce harassment on campus. Unfortunately as a result of UEA’s actions, a contingent of students no longer feel safe in the place they work and study. In representing the interests of our members, we call upon UEA to ensure this seminar does not take place, and in doing so prioritise the safety and wellbeing of students and staff by standing against those who seek to undermine the rights of trans people.  

Full Time Officer Team

Show your support for resisting transphobia on campus by signing our petition: https://www.change.org/p/university-of-east-anglia-resist-transphobia-at-uea

 
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