Lesbian Strength Speech — 7/9/2019
I want to begin by saying something about my experiences as a gender critical lesbian in academia. Like many here, I stumbled into this debate naively believing that some characters must be a joke: it simply never occurred to me that apparently sane people really believed that the power of thought alone could magically transform male people into women. Now the first inkling of trouble, for me, began when Lily Madigan announced that they had bravely come out as a lesbian to their father. I said that someone can only come out of a closet if they have actually ever been in one which, of course, Madigan could never have as a heterosexual man. Thus, followed numerous complaints to York about my transphobia and just last month Stephanie Hayden and Dr Adrian Harrop complained to my Head of Department that I am a “safeguarding risk” who is “compromising the safety” of LGBT staff and students on campus because I publicly stated that Rachel McKinnon is a man. Unfortunately, I can’t say more as my lawyer — an actual one and not just a certain self-identified one — is handling their complaint and any subsequent outcome; but I will publicly say that a male person with (allegedly, purportedly, blah blah) convictions for assault and a doctor who has doxed and harassed women on-line surely constitute a much greater safeguarding risk than a lesbian who thinks — because she literally is a lesbian — that lesbians are same-sex and not same-gender attracted. Beyond that, I have — probably like many of you — lost friendships and found myself suddenly blocked by people I thought I’d had some good conversations with — it turns out that that all counts for nothing when there are homophobic woke points to be earned.
So, this is the academic terrain I’m currently navigating as the Grand Transphobe of York. In light of the insanity currently plaguing academia I want to make just two suggestions:
(1) Most obviously, we need to organize both on and off-line to defend and uphold the principles of academic freedom. Out lesbian academics such as Kathleen Stock, myself — and our allies — must be free to criticize the notion that biological men can become women, and quite often lesbians, because of their feeling that they are: you just DO NOT get to become a lesbian by busting some special gender feel moves whilst channelling Alex Sharpe, Rachel McKinnon, and taking whatever Alice Roberts and Sally Hines are on of late — oh no, you actually have to be a woman who is attracted to other biological women. It’s that simple. And it’s astonishing that organizations which were once an inspirational beacon to lesbians such as Stonewall are now redefining lesbian to mean being attracted to the same gender. That, right there, is erasing our sexuality which many of us have spent years struggling to truly accept. And because of this ridiculous definition we now have the spectacle of privileged academics — usually heterosexual ones — telling us who it is socially and philosophically acceptable to be attracted to, and calling for us to be fired for transphobia if we dare to assert our sexuality. They are no different from drunk Steve in your local who boldly announces he can ‘turn’ you — except they are getting away with it because their homophobia is disguised as academic prose.
WE MUST THEN, BY PROPORTIONAL AND LEGITIMATE MEANS, RESIST THIS ERASURE OF OUR SEXUALITY
(2) Another obvious thing to say is that lesbian students and staff must be free to organize and express their views without fear of harassment and violence. Most of you already know that Julie Bindel was physically threatened by Cathy Brennan, a trans woman, after leaving the University of Edinburgh event on women’s sex-based rights back in June. And what was Edinburgh’s response? Well, they refused to release the video of the event — at which I also spoke — for two months for fear of causing distress to current and future transgender students, and there was no statement condemning the attack on Julie Bindel. Kathleen Stock has had to have security at Sussex install a spyhole in her office door after numerous threats; and on it goes. Universities need to start sending robust messages that this behaviour is completely unacceptable instead of remaining silent or, in some cases, summoning us to disciplinary meetings because we unashamedly state that our sexuality excludes biological men — that’s precisely the point of being a lesbian! Imagine if I, as an Atheist, strolled into a Christian group demanding that they centre me and claiming that refusing to do so constitutes Atheism-phobia. That’d be absurd! And so are these incessant demands that we include biological men in our events and even our dating pool.
So I want to end by calling for us to constructively capitalise upon the hard work of Julie Furlong, Suzi, and Lauren today as well as the bravery of many of you attending by continuing to be outspoken; by continuing to gather; and by challenging lesbophobia wherever we see it — write to your councils to insist they uphold the Equality Act 2010 which is supposed to protect us, write to LGBT organizations to remind them what being a lesbian means, and demonstrate peacefully.
THANK YOU EVERYONE! THANK YOU MAGDALEN! NOW, LET’S SHOW LEEDS HOW TO PARTY!