Toxic wells

Oxford student newspaper Cherwell October 25:

A demonstration in support of trans rights will be held today in response to a meeting of self-described feminist group Woman’s Place UK (WPUK). WPUK was established in 2017 to oppose the trans rights enshrined in changes to the Gender Recognition Act, and has been widely condemned as transphobic.

The well is poisoned so carefully from the outset. “in support of trans rights” – because what kind of fiend could oppose someone’s rights? “self-described feminist group” – but we know better, don’t we, wink wink nudge nudge. “to oppose the trans rights” – there they are! They’re the kind of fiend who oppose someone’s rights! “widely condemned as transphobic” – the way we are condemning right now, with lies and innuendo. Pass it on.

Trans Action Oxford, who are organising the demo, decided not to directly protest the WPUK event, but instead hope the demonstration will show solidarity with the trans community. They said that rather than “play[ing] into their narrative of false victimhood, we are looking to re-centre trans voices, and to discuss trans issues alongside cis allies in a respectful and tolerant manner.”

Because women are stupid tiresome bitches, while the trans community is awesome. (The people at Trans Action Oxford need to up their game though – they mean “their false narrative of victimhood, not “their narrative of false victimhood.” Let’s get those clichés accurate.)

Some students are particularly concerned about the participation of Selina Todd, a Tutorial Fellow in History at St Hilda’s College, in the WPUK panel. Todd has previously faced criticism for her views on trans rights, but has defended her views on the basis of academic freedom.

I doubt that it’s quite that simple. I doubt she thinks her views are all wrong but defends them on the basis of academic freedom. I suspect she also defends them on the basis that they’re neither wrong nor hate-mongering, contrary to what “activists” would like everyone to think.

Todd has published her views on her website, where she states she believes that “being a woman rests both on certain biological facts and on the experience of living in the world as a woman, from birth, an experience that is shaped by particular kinds of oppressions.”

Ooh, gee, that’s what I believe too. Weird, huh?

One student at the college, who wished to remain anonymous, emphasised their concern about how this could impact students. They said: “St Hilda’s college and the History faculty should reassess their position in continuing to hire Professor Todd.

“How can a transgender student feel comfortable with the knowledge that their college believes that academic free speech is more important than their existence? Professor Todd has continually made this argument about freedom of academic speech which is not valid.”

But how does “their existence” come into it? Todd is not arguing that trans people (or anyone else) should not exist. The issue isn’t their existence, it’s their self-description, which 1. is wrong and 2. is incompatible with the self-description of, for instance, women, who are also a subordinated group.

A member of Trans Action Oxford also criticised Todd’s role, telling Cherwell: “I think it’s clear that there’s no place in Oxford for bigotry like Selina Todd’s. Her rhetoric is obviously harmful to the lives of trans people across the country, but it’s also worth stressing the impact on any trans students she might teach.

“Studying at Oxford is hard enough without your tutors denying your right to exist, and it’s vital to students’ welfare that they don’t have to face this kind of hatred.”

There again – she’s not denying anyone’s right to exist.

If they can only make their case by telling these stupid abusive lies, how good can their case be?

Todd denied claims that she was transphobic, telling Cherwell: “The claims that I am transphobic or ‘deny’ anyone’s existence are groundless and defamatory. I am very proud to be speaking at the meeting called by A Woman’s Place UK. Woman’s Place UK is not transphobic.

“Given that sex harassment affects many female students and staff in UK higher education, and the sex pay gap within higher education is higher than the national average, I consider sex discrimination a pressing issue.”

How very dare she, yeah?

I’ve been seeing many friends on Twitter saying today that Todd’s employers are under heavy pressure to fire her.

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