With Stonewall-sponsored policies to match.

Kathleen Stock asks what’s going on here when academics sign an open letter “which wouldn’t look out of place in the Salem Witch Trial archive.”

How can these academics look at the parts of the gender identity debate that concern me – for instance, vulnerable female prisoners being housed with male sex offenders; young lesbian women like Keira Bell regretting the effects of puberty blockers and voluntary mastectomies by the time they are 20; a loss of academic data about sex-associated patterns of discrimination, and so on – and conclude that I’m not only wrong, but that I should be publicly shamed?

That is, not only wrong but wicked, malevolent, deliberately harm-doing, cruel, witchy. I wonder that too. How do they get there?

(The puzzlement reminds me of my puzzlement at Republican Congressional Representatives refusing to wear masks while locked down in a confined space with colleagues, and not only refusing but mocking the colleagues who do mask. Where does that kind of pointless malice and deliberate harm-doing come from?)

Though many of the signatories of the open letter against me were based overseas, 11 of the founder signatories were at UK universities. UK universities are at the forefront of trans activism in at least two ways. One is that relatively many students – otherwise known these days as paying customers – are trans activists, and this alone will tend to affect weaker-minded academic faculty…

The second point is that universities themselves, via enthusiastic participation in Stonewall schemes like the Diversity Champions scheme and the Top 100 Employers Index are now, effectively, trans activist organisations at a managerial level, with Stonewall-sponsored policies to match.

For instance, an HR policy at Queen’s University Belfast tells staff to ‘think of the person as being the sex that they want you to think of them as’ (policies at Edinburgh and Leeds say something very similar).

There, again, for the millionth time, I pause to marvel. Do what?? Think of the person as the _____ that they want you to think of them as? What kind of wild, impossible to apply broadly, reckless rule is that? What kind of deranged retreat to childishness is that? No I’m not going to undertake to think of people the way they want me to think of them, at least not in that blank check, no questions asked, just do it way. I’m not and no one should. People think of us the way they think of us, and we can’t force them to swap their perceptions for ours. It’s infantile to think that’s even possible, let alone reasonable. It’s also so non-academic, so anti-academic, that it makes my head swim. It’s a fantasists’ charter, a one-way ticket to Narcissists’ Crossing.

‘Good practice’ at Oxford University includes avoiding the phrase ‘identifies as a woman’ for a trans woman, because this suggests trans women aren’t ‘“real” women’.

And that’s because they’re not. Universities really really really should not be in the business of ordering people to substitute fantasy for reality. It’s not even a reasonable request, let alone a command.

The costs of this intimidation of academics sceptical about gender orthodoxies – whether via savage open letters or managerial policies controlling speech and thought – are high. Knowledge is lost and public understanding diminished. In my view, there’s a pressing need for academics to take a cold hard look at the havoc wreaked by pretending, on a national scale, that gender identity is more important than sex in nearly every context. This includes a need for philosophers: for a lot of current trans orthodoxy has very particular philosophical underpinnings, seeming to give it intellectual credibility where, in my view, there is little.

But if we just think of current trans orthodoxy as the brilliant progressive correct orthodoxy it wants us to think of it as, everything will be copacetic.

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