More than 600 philosophers have criticised the awarding of an OBE to anti-trans professor Kathleen Stock and raised the alarm about transphobia in philosophy.
Dr Kathleen Stock, professor of philosophy at the University of Sussex, was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the 2021 New Year Honours list for services to higher education.
Announcing her OBE on Twitter, Stock branded LGBT+ charity Stonewall “a threat to freedom of speech” in a diatribe about “gender identity ideology”.
An international cohort of her philosophy colleagues say they are “dismayed” that the British government chose to honour her, given her “harmful rhetoric” about transgender and gender non-conforming people that “reinforces the patriarchal status quo”.
In an open letter, signed by more than 600 philosophers, the academics say they are concerned about a “tendency to mistake transphobic fearmongering for valuable scholarship, and attacks on already marginalised people for courageous exercises of free speech”.
“Stock is best-known in recent years for her trans-exclusionary public and academic discourse on sex and gender, especially for opposition to [reforming] the UK Gender Recognition Act and the importance of self-identification to establish gender identity, and for advocating that trans women should be excluded from places like women’s locker rooms or shelters,” the letter says.
Stock has previously asserted that “trans women are still males with male genitalia” but strongly denies she is transphobic.
The letter continues: “Trans people are already deeply marginalized in society, facing well-documented discrimination, ranging from government policy to physical violence. Discourse like that Stock is producing and amplifying contributes to these harms, serving to restrict trans people’s access to life-saving medical treatments, encourage the harassment of gender non-conforming people, and otherwise reinforce the patriarchal status quo.
“We do not say Stock should not be permitted to say the things she does. We believe in the principles of academic freedom, and note that objecting to someone being lauded or honoured for their speech simply does not conflict with those principles.
“Academic freedom comes with responsibility; we should not use that freedom to harm people, particularly the more vulnerable members of our community. Conflating concern about the harms of Stock’s work with threats to academic freedom obfuscates important issues.”
Signed by academics at universities in Australia, Brazil, the UK, Canada, Spain, the US, Japan, Norway, Germany, Belgium, Israel, India, Czechia, The Netherlands, and Costa Rica, the letter concludes: “We stand against prominent members of our profession using their academic status to further gender oppression.
“We denounce transphobia in all its forms, and hereby publicly commit to working to create a more inclusive culture, in which people of all gender presentations and identities are able to thrive and be respected for who they are.”
Dr Kathleen Stock has been contacted for comment.