Women’s Rights and Academic Freedom – Part 2

On January 21st we published this blog post telling the sorry tale of how the University of Edinburgh is systematically promoting an uncritical acceptance of gender identity ideology, while allowing critical discussion of that ideology to be closed down. We included in that post nine questions we sent to University managers, some of which related to the postponed event on gender diversity in schools, and some of which related to the wider questions about academic freedom raised by the Guardian article on 14/01/20.

At the end of last week we received an answer from Gavin Douglas, Deputy Secretary of the University. His email, which would appear to be a circular one since we know others have received identical mails, answered none of the nine questions we’d asked. Nor did it indicate that university management have any interest in dealing with the problems documented in our last blog post.

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Women’s Rights and Academic Freedom

According to the tenets of gender identity ideology, every individual has an inner gendered self which manifests as gender identity (a sense of maleness or femaleness) – and this gender identity is the only accurate way of categorising an individual as a man, a woman, both or neither. Under this ideology, biological sex is reduced to a social construction and only gender identity is real. Such a way of thinking clearly has major implications for women’s rights which have been won on the basis of sex, and for the education and safeguarding of children.

You might think that universities are the very places where ideologies with far-reaching consequences can be critically examined, where arguments and counter-arguments based on evidence can be advanced, and where respectful discussion about ways forward in fields like law, criminal justice, health, education and social work can take place. But you would be wrong.

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Consultation with Stakeholders

When Nicola Surgeon stated that feminist’s concerns were “misplaced” at a United Nations conference last February we thought it would be an ideal time to try and arrange a meeting to address our concerns and put forward evidence that self ID policies represent a substantial roll back of women’s rights. When that was unsuccessful, we turned our attention to arranging a meeting with Shirley-Anne Somerville, the Cabinet Secretary responsible for reform of the Gender Recognition Act. After all, she had very recently published an article stating “Government has a duty to understand and seek to address the concerns being raised. This is something I have sought to do since taking this post and to which I commit to continue to do”, so we were hopeful of a meeting.

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Sex Matters

Ahead of the census debate we are concerned that the definitions of male and female in Scots Law and practice need to be robust and that appropriate protections can also be put in place for the trans community through proper data gathering. But conflating sex and gender serves no-one and hurts many.

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Edinburgh Live

An article, published today, by Edinburgh Live mentioned our group, and contained this photograph:

Given that the photograph of the sticker was taken from a tweet posted online on 17 August we are really not sure how they failed to contact us for comment before publishing the article.  Here is our response:

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Open Letter to First Minister

Dear Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister,

We are a group of 51 women from various professions and walks of life across Scotland, and who are very concerned at the climate of misogyny and violent threats against women currently being fomented by the culture of trans ideology.

In particular we are concerned at the very recent behaviour of SNP councillor Gregor Fisher Murray when he launched an expletive ridden tirade of abuse at women who were expressing their concern over threats against lesbians defining their own boundaries and their own sexuality.  Please see the article in today’s The Courier.

This is not the first time that he has displayed such impulses, previously having attacked those who want 50/50 representation as ‘feminist shite’.

Gillian Martin’s non-aggressive comments of some years ago had consequences for her but Gregor Murray’s behaviour, which is recent and repeated, have had no such repercussions for him.  We call upon you to send a clear message, that discourse around these matters must be respectful and non-threatening.  The fact that this person identifies as non-binary clearly hasn’t prevented him from adopting intimidating behaviour typical of male aggressors, and promoting blatant sexism.  Women’s and children’s rights are not safe in his hands.  He is not acceptable as an ‘equalities spokesperson’, nor as convenor of a children and families committee.  We call upon you to stand up for women and send a message that this language and behaviour will not be tolerated in the SNP.

Yours sincerely,

forwomen.scot