Kathleen Stock: Professor at the centre of trans rights row leaves University of Sussex after 'horrible time'

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A professor is leaving the University of Sussex after facing calls to be sacked for her views on gender identification.

Professor Kathleen Stock has come under fire for saying she believes gender identity is not more important than facts about biological sex, "particularly when it comes to law and policy".

She has been accused of being "transphobic" - an allegation she strenuously denies.

Announcing her departure on Twitter, she said she had "a very difficult few years" following a campaign by an anonymous group, reportedly set up by students who put up posters calling for her dismissal.

An image also emerged on social media of a protester holding a banner saying: "Stock Out".

Prof Stock said: "This has been an absolutely horrible time for me and my family. I'm putting it behind me now. On to brighter things soon, I hope."

In an email to all staff, Prof Adam Tickell, the vice-chancellor of the University of Sussex, said the institution has been "consistent and clear that everyone in our community has the right to work and learn, free from bullying and harassment of any kind, which has not been the case for Professor Stock".

He said the university had hoped she would feel able to return and would have supported her to do so.

"She has decided that recent events have meant that this will not be possible, and we respect and understand that decision," he said.

He said it is unlawful to discriminate against someone on the grounds of sex and of philosophical belief, adding: "Rigorous academic challenge is welcome. However, we have seen an intolerance of her as a member of our community because of her work.

"This is now, and will always be, in direct opposition to even the most basic principles of academia."

Prof Stock praised the university's leadership, saying: "I hope that other institutions in similar situations can learn from this.

"Am particularly glad to see university emphasising that bullying and harassment anyone for their legally held beliefs is unacceptable in their workplace."

Earlier this month, Prof Stock accused the Sussex branch of the University and College Union (UCU) of "effectively" ending her career after it called on the institution to take a "strong stance" against transphobia.

In a statement, the union said all trans and non-binary members "now more than ever" should receive the university's "unequivocal support".

The University of Sussex previously said the institution would not tolerate threats to "academic freedoms".

In January, hundreds of academics condemned the decision to make Prof Stock an OBE for services to higher education in the New Year Honours.

They wrote an open letter criticising academics who use their status to "further gender oppression" and said they denounced "transphobia in all its forms".

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