Culture Wars/Current Controversies

A backlash against gender ideology is starting in universities

The Economist

HOURS BEFORE Jo Phoenix, a professor of criminology at Britain’s Open University, was due to give a talk at Essex University about placing transgender women in women’s prisons, students threatened to barricade the hall. They complained that Ms Phoenix was a “transphobe” likely to engage in “hate speech”. A flyer with an image of a gun and text reading “shut the fuck up, TERF” (trans-exclusionary radical feminist, a slur) was circulating. The university told Ms Phoenix it was postponing the event. Then the sociology department asked her for a copy of her talk. Days later it told her it had voted to rescind its invitation, and would issue no more. Ms Phoenix says she was “absolutely furious and deeply upset” about both the damage to her reputation and to academic freedom.

Essex University’s vice-chancellor asked Akua Reindorf, a lawyer who specialises in employment and discrimination law, to investigate. Eighteen months later, in mid-May, the university published Ms Reindorf’s report on its website. It said Essex had infringed Ms Phoenix’s right to freedom of expression and that its decision to “exclude and blacklist” her was also unlawful.

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