A different story

Gaby Hinsliff at the Guardian chatted with Kathleen Stock. Some interesting points came up.

“I’m excited in a weird way, excited about my future,” she says. There is relief, too, at escaping what she felt was an “aggressive, intimidating environment” at her workplace of 18 years. Interestingly, while some blamed the Sussex standoff on a generation of students unable to tolerate views they dislike, Stock tells a different story. “Most of the students I encounter are completely open-minded and even if they disagree with me, which I’m sure a lot of them do, they wouldn’t hold it against me as a personal character flaw.” The problem, she says, was her peers.

Who are older, and thus, you might think, should know better.

[T]he backlash really began with a 2018 interview she gave to the local paper in LGBT-friendly Brighton, arguing that while most trans women wouldn’t dream of harming anyone, they shouldn’t have unrestricted access to places where females undress or sleep because “many trans women are still males with male genitalia”, words some find instantly offensive. Under the LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall’s preferred definition of the term, denying a trans person’s stated identity is transphobic. 

But first of all, Stonewall isn’t the boss of us. No one died and made Stonewall god. Stonewall can prefer what it likes, but it doesn’t get to force us to define words the way it prefers. That’s all the more true when its preference is both stupid and dangerous. It can’t be some kind of firm principle of social justice or humans rights that everyone is required to agree with how people “identify” with no questions asked. Obviously. I could claim to be you and take all your stuff, and vice versa. We could all “identify as” Joe Biden; now what?

No. Just no. A “stated identity” that contradicts our perceptions can’t be imposed on us by law and bullying.

Several Sussex colleagues publicly denounced her on social media, although strangely, she says, not to her face. “No peer ever said to me: ‘Look, I really object to what you’re saying and I’d like to discuss it with you.’ They immediately went to Defcon 1: ‘She’s a bigot… arguing for single-sex spaces is like the Jim Crow laws [that historically enforced racial segregation in the American south].’” She remains fascinated by the performative aspects of social media debate. “The important thing is to show your tribe that you have the right morals and you could show that by saying, ‘I’m not with her.’”

Yes but why is that the way you could show it now? Why is it that and not other, better things? Why can’t you show your tribe you have the right morals by saying feminist things instead of reality-denying anti-feminist things? Why has this become the New, Improved, More Sensitive filter?

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