Steph's Place

Taking Stock of the facts - Kathleen Stock and the right for Freedom of Speech

Opinion by Co-Editor Paul

Kathleen Stock has given her first interviews on BBC Radio’s Women’s Hour and then on ITV’s daytime Lorraine. It is of no surprise that the first was with the BBC, with yet another BBC interview from a Gender Critical believer and yet again, without a single interview or inclusion of anyone Transgender– so much for the BBC insistence on having a balanced ‘debate’. Lorraine was at least able to put forward her views disagreeing with Stock’s beliefs, but yet again there was no Trans person given a voice.

On Women’s hours she was given over half the programme and delivered her version of events that have unfolded. These have spanned over the last 3 years since she began to make her Gender Critical beliefs known publicly, and which, last week, culminated in her feeling the need to quit her job.  

I was originally planning on dissecting every single issue raised and addressing all the points made, and I will pick out a couple of to respond to, but in truth this really comes down to one fundamental and key issue:

Is it transphobic for Stock to insist that “it is Fiction to believe that Trans Women are Women and Trans Men are Men”?

The definition of Transphobia is ‘a collection of ideas and phenomena that encompass a range of negative attitudes, feelings, or actions towards Transgender people’.  – So what does Kathleen Stock believe and what views does she support? Can they fairly be labelled as transphobic?

Let’s start by repeating her comment made on Women’s Hour that believing you are Transgender is ‘Fiction’ – her words – she totally refuses to accept the existence of being Transgender – she openly states that Trans Women are Men. Could there honestly be anything more transphobic than refusing to accept their very existence?  In a Guardian interview in May 2021 at the publication of her Gender Critical book, Material Girls, she stated the following;  

“…and she knows a lot of people will find it distasteful. Stock, a professor of philosophy at the University of Sussex, says the key question she addresses – itself offensive to many – is this: do trans women count as women?”

So she fully acknowledges her views ‘offend’ and that many will find her beliefs ‘distasteful’ – from the Maya Forstater Employment Appeal Tribunal earlier this year, we know that Stock has the legal right to hold her beliefs – we all do – but she does not have the right to spread views that are hateful and cause offence to others – the Forstater judgment repeated the following statement twice within its submission:

This judgment does not mean that those with gender-critical beliefs can ‘misgender’ trans persons with impunity. The Claimant, like everyone else, will continue to be subject to the prohibitions on discrimination and harassment under the EqA.

Stating ‘Trans Women are Men’ is blatantly misgendering all Trans Women and she openly admits this will be distasteful to many (those Transgender) and causes offence – so how can a view that is accepted to be offensive and distasteful to Trans People be anything other than transphobic? In fact, if this belief isn’t classed as being transphobic, then what on earth could possibly be transphobic?

In my opinion, this one statement alone is sufficient to have established her true transphobic position, but there is more. Kathleen Stock is a Trustee of the LGB Alliance because, and as she stated on Women’s Hour, she shares their views – the LGB Alliance are a single issue anti-Trans organisation that ONLY promote Gender Critical views and whose sole aim is to campaign to remove existing Trans Rights and constantly ‘spread negative attitudes, feelings and actions toward Transgender people’ – so again, the very definition of transphobia.

Kathleen Stock stated she does not believe Trans Women should be permitted to use Women’s Single Sex Spaces – because she calls them Men.  So the implication is that Trans Women, because they are Men, pose a violent or sexual threat to Cisgender Women – if they were not a danger then what could be the reason for wanting to ban them from using Female toilets in private locked cubicles protecting everyone’s privacy and dignity?

There is no other viable or logical reason. Considering that the Trans Women are a danger to share spaces is clearly a highly negative and transphobic attitude to hold. No different to the identical homophobic attitudes of the 70’s to the implied ‘danger’ of gay people sharing toilets and changing rooms with straight people, and no one could deny that those views are homophobic. They are views that were manufactured and intentionally invented in America in 2015  to spread fear without any basis of factual evidence.

It is also important to note that Stock lied (or at best intentionally misled) listeners about the GRA Reform Consultation where she claimed that there was a clear objective of the then Government to change the Equality Act 2010 by removing the important Exemption rights which allow organisations (where there is a legitimate aim and on a case-by-case basis), to lawfully discriminate and restrict use based on Biological Sex.  The Government’s own Consultation notes   at the beginning of the GRA Reform process made it very clear that they had NO intention to make ANY changes to the EA10.

GRA Reform Consultation Page 2 ….. this consultation focuses on the Gender Recognition Act; we are not proposing to amend the Equality Act 2010 and the protections contained within it.

The consultation and the so called (and widely misrepresented) ‘Self ID’ process was only ever about the process of changing your Sex marker on a Birth Certificate and nothing else – there was never any intention to remove the EA10 Exclusions. Stock knows this, so she tries to cover this up by blaming Stonewall (rather than the Government) for actively campaigning for this change. What she is actually referring to is an outdated document from six years ago – this may well have been Stonewell’s view at the time, but Stonewall are not THE representative organisation for the Transgender community, their aims and policy requirements, they are merely a staunch and valued ally, and as reiterated by Stonewall in the statement read out on Women’s Hour, they confirmed they ARE NOT actively promoting the removal of the EA10 Exemptions. So contrary to Stock’s claim, the Government never included or intended this as part of the GRA Reform and Stonewall ARE NOT pushing for its removal. This untrue statement that Stock continues to push can only be considered as promoting negative attitudes towards transgender aims, and therefore, once again we see more evidence of negative transphobic actions.

Stock can trot out the claim that she is ‘not transphobic and believes trans people should be free blah blah blah …..’ as many times as she likes, but simply making an insincere and clearly untrue statement doesn’t remove responsibility or ownership of her true beliefs – actions speak far louder than words and her actions are clearly transphobic.

In light of all I have stated above, can anyone honestly argue in good faith that she doesn’t hold ‘a collection of ideas and phenomena that encompass a range of negative attitudes, feelings, or actions towards transgender people’? In my opinion she clearly does – She openly admits she does – She refuses to accept Trans people even exist by calling their mere existence as ‘fiction’ – She is transphobic by very definition.

And if you still hold any niggling doubts, please consider the following statement about being gay:

No one is born gay. Men and Women were created to be together to bare children and it is a sin and totally abhorrent to have any sexual relationship or union with anyone of the same Sex.  It is pure fiction to believe being ‘gay’ is natural, as being straight is the way we are all created and intended by biology 

Could anyone believe this statement is not homophobic?

The simple answer is, of course, No! Of course it is and it’s quite clear that we all accept and understand this to be the case. Only someone that is hompophobic would deny this, and if they insisted, in the same way as Stock, they were not homophobic would this be accepted?

If you’d asked this homophobic question 50 years ago the answer would have been very different and opinions very mixed, as clearly there were high numbers for either religious or just plain bigotry reasons believed the statement to be factual – these are beliefs we know they were entitled to hold, but that does not make those beliefs acceptable and not homophobic.

The point obviously being made is that just like Kathleen Stock today and her Gender Critical beliefs, there were many people that held similar views about being Gay fifty years ago. They also believed they were right until homophobic views became socially unacceptable due to public protest and organisations (specifically Stonewall) standing up to such hateful views until it eventually became socially unacceptable to air homophobic views publically.

If homophobic views are now rightly deemed unacceptable, why are we still allowing transphobic views which are based on exactly the same reasoning?

The answer is, we shouldn’t, and that is why Stonewall are today standing up against transphobic beliefs in exactly the same way they did for homophobic beliefs and campaigning against hateful views being publically aired against Trans people ….the views that Kathleen Stock promotes. And this is why Stonewall find themselves under bitter attack from Gender Critical believers and organisations (like the BBC) simply because they refuse to abandon the Trans Community.

Because we have thankfully moved on, and societies in most (but unfortunately not all) counties have rejected homophobic views and practices, countries around the world are implementing laws to ban Conversion Therapy. Clearly there is full understanding and acceptance that we alone know our true Sexuality and it is an abhorrent practice akin to torture to try to force anyone to be anything other than who they truly are. But of course this proposed ban doesn’t stop there - the proposed UK Conversion Therapy ban will include those who are Transgender – so I have to ask, if being Transgender is just ‘Fiction’ (and the World Health Organisation no longer record Gender Dysphoria as a mental illness) why would there be any need to ban Conversion Therapy if being Transgender wasn’t scientifically and medically accepted?

Why would it be considered harmful and identical to Gay Conversion Therapy if someone was persuaded that their fictional belief was truly fictional? Surely it would be helping and in no way harmful if this were true? But it isn’t.

Transgender Conversion Therapy is desperately required because being Transgender is clearly an accepted scientific and medical REALITY, not FICTION, and why it is acknowledged as a form of torture to inflict this vile practice on anyone who is Transgender.

Trans Women are Women and Trans Men are Men, and if you won’t accept this you are transphobic.  

Kathleen Stock will repeat in every interview and statement that she is not transphobic and very much believes that Trans people ‘have a right to feel safe and live their lives without discrimination’.

However, please do not be taken in by this intentional display of supposed understanding. This is a well-used mantra that every Gender Critical believer uses, and they do so simply to deflect because it makes them sound caring and compassionate – they do not want to sound as if they are attacking Trans Women and make Trans Women to appear as victims (they reserve that position for themselves as I will come on to). This claim to ‘care’ is simply not true because they always finish this statement with a ‘but ….’ And then explain exactly why they DO want to cut and restrict Trans Rights and influence plus limit the way they live their lives. So Stock clearly does not believe Trans Women should be free to live as they wish otherwise she would have no objections. She will claim this is because of ‘protecting Women’s Rights’, but the truth is that there are no Cisgender Women’s Rights that are actually under threat – as already stated, there is no fight to amend the EA10 – Both Cisgender and Transgender Women’s Rights are to remain exactly as they are. The claim of a threat to Women’s Rights is quite simply baseless.

Because she holds these ‘beliefs’ she refuses to accept that expressing these views is in any way harmful and she disgracefully tosses aside any claim that Trans People are ‘the most vulnerable group in our society’ or suffer any genuine form of hatred or intimidation – and she dismisses this view simply because it was stated by Stonewall! But are Stonewall really the only source stating this?

According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey: (which was taken from questioning over 27,000 people).

  • Nearly half (46%) of respondents were verbally harassed in the past year because of being transgender.
  • Nearly one in ten (9%) respondents were physically attacked in the past year because of being transgender.
  • Nearly half (47%) of respondents were sexually assaulted at some point in their lifetime and one in ten (10%) were sexually assaulted in the past year. In communities of colour, these numbers are higher: 53% of Black respondents were sexually assaulted in their lifetime and 13% were sexually assaulted in the last year.
  • 72% of respondents who have done sex work, 65% of respondents who have experienced homelessness, and 61% of respondents with disabilities reported being sexually assaulted in their lifetime.
  • More than half (54%) experienced some form of intimate partner violence, including acts involving coercive control and physical harm.

Well how about the Galop Transphobic Hate Crime Report 2020 what did this report establish?

“This report presented the findings of a survey looking into the nature and impacts of transphobic hate crime.  Trans people are under such high rates of physical, sexual, and verbal attack that more than half feel less able to leave their home. 

As per this report, in the last year alone a quarter of trans people had experienced or been threatened with physical assault. Nearly one in five had experienced or been threatened with sexual assault”

Yet according to Stock, she has no idea why Trans people are living in fear and why there could be any harm from the views and comments she publically makes.

 As one research respondent stated in the 2020 Galop report : 

“The fear is particularly prevalent when public figures – politicians, high profile newspaper columnists etc – demonise trans people in print or on air; it makes the fear more pronounced because you worry someone’s going to act on it.” 

And this is exactly what Stock is adding to with her transphobic beliefs. Her views are incredibly insulting – and remember she openly admitted as much – and yet she claims to be totally perplexed by the level of upset she has caused and why those upset and insulted then stand up and say so.

And this brings us to the right for Freedom of Speech. I will emphatically state that it is vital that Freedom of Speech is protected. And this right is exactly what the Students and fellow Sussex University Professors have done (interestingly Stock stated that the backlash against her views actually emanated from fellow Academic Professors within Sussex University and not the Students) – they have exercised their right to Freedom of Speech and yet Stock is insisting this is unacceptable and they should have been stopped!

This article is a perfect example of Freedom of Speech. I am entitled to my beliefs and my belief is clear that I consider Kathleen Stock to hold transphobic beliefs for the reasons I have stated. I’m not harassing or threatening her, I am merely quoting her own words and passing my opinions. It’s my Freedom of Speech.

But we must also be clear that Freedom of Speech does NOT permit Freedom to hate – as clearly demonstrated last week with the sentencing and imprisonment of a football fan for sending racist text messages to Black English Footballers. Had this been in the 60’s he would undoubtedly have been permitted to make such statements, but not today – racist beliefs are thankfully not acceptable today.  We have also seen the backlash against a Yorkshire cricketer for making awful racist comments against his teammate Azeem Rafiq, dismissing this as mere banter, and the failure of the Cricket Club to take any action. It is very clear that racist views are unacceptable – so Freedom of Speech does have its limits but for some unacceptable reason we still have to reach that point where transphobic views receive the same degree of accountability and condemnation. Lorraine Kelly did stand up to Stock and was very clear she did not agree with Stock’s beliefs, but she did believe it was important to allow debate and the right to speak. If Oswald Mosley was alive today I do not believe he wold be invited onto daytime TV and given a platform to air his racist views simply because discussion is paramount. Transphobic views are harmful and in the same way as racist or any other vile hateful discrimination should not be given a TV or Radio platform.

I also find it staggering that the act of students to express their views amount to ‘bullying and harassment’. By this standard, the acts of Martin Luther King Jnr would have been acts of ‘harassment’, and was he really guilty of inciting his followers into ‘bullying’ those for holding racist views? And what about the Suffragettes? Let’s not forget that their actions of standing up to discrimination included arson where people died. Standing up to discrimination requires more than politely asking society to recognise the injustice being inflicted. Thankfully we have social media today, so getting a message across and spreading the truth is far easier without resorting to such extreme measures, so please let’s reflect realistically on how ‘violent’ and ‘harmful’ these University protests have really been.  It was stated today that the Police are (rightly) investigating some isolated messages Stock received and if any are deemed against the law then those responsible will rightly face prosecution in the same way as the racist football fan – any isolated illegal acts are not acceptable but do not however invalidate all lawful expressions of protest.

What was also abundantly clear from the Women’s Hour interview was that Stock is painting herself to be the Victim (which is why she doesn’t want Trans People to appear as victims and makes her (insincere) claims to fully support them) – and she also wants to be looked upon as a Martyr for the way she was ‘hounded’ out of a job that she simply couldn’t remain in due to ‘the looks’ she received from just walking down a corridor. 

So let us get this straight – firstly SHE RESIGNED. She wasn’t forced out as both the University AND (contrary to her claim on Women’s Hour) by her Union who also stood up for her right not to be sacked and not to receive any harassment or subjected to any bullying – and let me again state quite categorically that I totally agree that no one should be bullied or harassed.

What her Union factually did was simply to state that they opposed, and will not accept, any form of transphobia within their University Campus - and so this is what Stock took exception to - the fact that her Union stood up against transphobia and refused to accept that it had a place in the University. They didn’t accuse her of transphobia, they only condemned the act of transphobia – and Stock confirmed that this statement meant she believed she could no longer work within the University which on the face of it, is an admission that she knows her views are considered to be transphobic.

She stated that she finally decided to resign because she couldn’t face the hateful looks – and yet she is on National TV and in every major newspaper, so as a public figure she is now highly recognisable - she even admitted that just walking to the station she was concerned at being recognised. So leaving her job for the reason as stated is utter nonsense – she has made herself a recognisable public figure by choice and this isn’t going to change simply by moving jobs – she stated she sees tackling this issue as her ‘calling’ and vows to continue as she has a voice (so as Lorraine correctly pointed out, she can’t complain about been ‘cancelled’).

She will therefore be identified for her views WHEREVER she works in th UK - so maybe her plan all along was to move to a location that is more accepting of her transphobic beliefs? But resigning from this job will not change how people in the UK view her and to claim otherwise is clearly disingenuous – her resignation clearly can’t stop her being recognised and being called out for her beliefs. She is simply playing the victim in order to find sympathy for her views, and in my mind, her resignation could even have been a calculated act to ensure she achieved the Victim status that she could milk. It was no surprise to see Gender Critical MP’s using her as an example to further their Gender Critical political aims. So it makes my cynical mind wonder if her resignation was actually orchestrated and planned for this very reason. Who knows?

Ultimately, I’m afraid that transphobic views are never going to be deemed worthy of respect in a democratic society and the only sympathy anyone will ever receive to holding such views is from others holding similar Gender Critical views.

In the April 21 Guardian interview, Stock stated “Plus it’s personal for me: I’ve struggled with my body in terms of femininity. I could easily age 15 have decided I was non-binary or even a boy.

Stock stated on Women’s Hour that she is openly Lesbian, so she went through the process of discovering who she truly was – but this ridiculous claim that she ‘could easily have decided (she was) non-binary or a boy’ is complete nonsense. How could she possibly come to that conclusion when she is Cisgender? She isn’t transgender and that’s why she never came to that decision. I hear so many Gender Critical Women say, ‘I know I am female, I know how it feels, Trans Women don’t have any idea how it feels to be a Women as they are not Women!’  Well correct, because Trans Women know how it feels to be a Trans Women, not a Cis Woman! And clearly Cis Women, including Stock, have no idea how it feels to be a Trans Women - because they are Cisgender!

Kathleen Stock is a Cisgender Lesbian. If she had been Transgender, then aged 15 she would have had Gender Dysphoria, discovered and decided she was Transgender precisely because she was, and not because she chose to be - so she would have done so in exactly the same way she discovered and knew her sexuality – she didn’t choose to be Lesbian, she is Lesbian. In this way, understanding and discovering our Sexuality and Gender Identity are exactly the same. We are who we are and how we are born.

What is ultimately truly unforgivable is her hypocritical claim that her ‘words’ are just harmless challenging words that cannot possibly make anyone feel unsafe, because as a philosopher she understands ‘the difference between feeling unsafe and actually being unsafe as two different things’. She claims that those hearing or reading her ‘words’ have no reason to ‘feel unsafe’ and yet painted her own position as one of real unsafety because of the words used against her. She described being affected greatly by what she has seen and read, yet believed her words are simply dealing with ‘challenges’ as just ‘a part of life’. In response, I ask anyone to consider the events of last week where cricketer Azeem Rafiq has described the ‘words’ used to him as anything but banter. Does Stock truly not understand that mere ‘words’ can have unbelievably devastating impact on vulnerable peoples mental health and why this awful incident left him ‘on the brink of suicide’.

The ‘Words’ used and seen everyday on social media and in the news are having a massive impact on Trans People – the whole essence of discovering you are Transgender in the current hostile UK environment means you are faced with constantly seeking to achieve just a basic humane level of acceptance of who you truly are – for the majority of those Transgender, needing to be accepted by the outside world consumes their whole life, and for Stock to claim that her words describing their lives ‘fiction’ as simply being a ‘challenge’ and a way to ‘start a debate’, a debate about their very existence, and that they should just accept this as ‘a part of life’. That is like saying Azeem Rafiq should accept the ‘P’ word as just a word and a part of life, so get over it.  How could this position be even remotely acceptable? It most certainly isn’t in respect of Azeem Rafiq and it also isn’t acceptable in respect of Trans people.

Stock claims that as a Philosopher she is open to debate and to listening to the views of others – may I recommend she tries reading the article ‘Why is the idea of ‘gender’ provoking backlash the world over?’ by Judith Butler, American Philosopher and (unlike Stock) an actual Gender Theorist. She fully explains exactly why Gender Critical views are transphobic and incredibly harmful. As Judith states: 

It is not easy to fully reconstruct the arguments used by the anti-gender ideology movement because they do not hold themselves to standards of consistency or coherence. They assemble and launch incendiary claims in order to defeat what they see as “gender ideology” or “gender studies” by any rhetorical means necessary.

Kathleen Stock has committed her future to use whatever rhetorical means necessary to remove the current rights of Trans Women – the very people she claims have every right to live as they are and without feeling threatened. Well they do feel threatened and very scarred, and we will not stay silent. We know the truth and we stand by reality. Trans Women are Women. You don’t have to like it, but you also don’t have to try to destroy lives just because your belief differs, and if as a consequence you find society shuns you, you have simply brought this upon yourself.

There is no coincidence that no one is being shunned, losing their job or being cancelled for holding woke views.  

At the end of the interview Stock stated that she is married and that her wife is expecting their child – statistically there is up to a 1% chance that (just like my youngest child) their child may also be Transgender – that is not fiction, that is a reality, and assuming Conversion Therapy will shortly be banned in the UK, this is a reality they would have to face. I can only hope they would give their child the same level of love and support to allow them time to discover their identity so they could be who they truly are and not what anyone else believes they should be. 

That Kathleen is the true Reality, and Not Fiction.

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