“Some of my lectures had to be protected by security guards”: British universities facing gender battle

By Cécile Ducourtieux

Posted today at 02:12

Kathleen Stock looks tired. Dressed in a plaid shirt over a T-shirt, disheveled hair, she apologizes for being late. For the past few days, she has been experiencing a media and emotional whirlwind, but her voice remains firm for this video meeting from her home, somewhere in the south of England. “I was angry, but I’m not anymore; I’m just relieved. I couldn’t stay in college anymore, I knew the harassment was going to continue. ” The 49-year-old scholar and writer has been a celebrity in the UK since October 28 and her resignation from the University of Sussex, where she had spent seventeen years teaching philosophy.

The explanation for his departure? The pressure, which has become too intense, from students and colleagues who have been clamoring for his head for three years because of his views on sex and gender. For Kathleen Stock, biological sex is an inalienable reality. She therefore criticizes the activists, very present on social networks, convinced, for their part, that gender prevails over sex: according to them, a transgender woman is literally a woman, even if she still has the genitals of a man. , and pretend it is not is to deny his identity.

The philosopher warns about the supposed dangers of these assertions. “Sex is not just something in your head, it is a biological reality, with medical or sports implications”, she insists. Not to mention that women, to hear it, need to be protected from possible sexual assault, in reserved spaces (changing rooms, toilets, prisons), and that it is therefore not possible for them to share such places, without discernment, with all the people declaring themselves to be women even if, in his eyes, they are not biologically so. His ideas, “Completely common in other countries », According to Kathleen Stock, she has been accused of transphobia on social networks and on the Sussex campus in Brighton, in the south of England. An accusation that she fiercely rejects: “I’m just asking to debate in a respectful manner. “

This confrontation between promoters of gender identity and feminists “critics of the genre” exploded in the media sphere in 2020. At the heart of the turmoil: the British writer JK Rowling, creator of the saga Harry Potter. She was taken to task for joking, in reaction to an article that spoke of “People who have periods” : “I’m sure there was a word to qualify these people, can anyone help me?” “, then stressing the importance of not “Erase the concept of sex” for the benefit of the genre.

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“Some of my lectures had to be protected by security guards”: British universities facing gender battle