Kemi Badenoch, minister for equality, has spoken out against the abuse that a university professor received for her views on gender identity.

Kathleen Stock, a University of Sussex professor of philosophy, was subject to calls for her dismissal amid transphobia allegations.

However, the University of Sussex vice chancellor stated earlier this month that the institution would not tolerate threats of ‘academic freedoms” following the campaign to remove Prof Stock.

Prof Stock announced last week that she would be leaving her job following a’very difficult few years’ and an ‘absolutely horrible time’.

The philosophy professor was at the centre of a blazing row – and a student-led protest – at the university after saying she believes gender identity does not outweigh biological sex ‘when it comes to law and policy’.

Equalities minister Kemi Badenoch (pictured) backed Kathleen Stock and told the Sky News' Trevor Phillips On Sunday programme she is 'appalled' at the way Ms Stock has been treated

Kemi Badenoch, Equalities minister, (pictured) said that Kathleen Stock was supported by her and that she is ‘appalled” at the treatment of Ms Stock.

Professor Kathleen Stock

An example of protests held by activists who disagree with Prof Stock's views

Kathleen Stock (left), a University of Sussex professor of philosophy, was threatened with being fired amid transphobia accusations. However, she has decided to resign.

She also stated that people can’t change their biological sex. This angered protesters who called her ‘transphobia’.

Kemi Badenoch, Equalities minister, backed the professor. She told Trevor Phillips on Sunday that she was ‘appalled’ by the treatment of Ms Stock.

She said, “I went to Sussex University. I tweeted when I saw the university support her. Nobody should face harassment or bullying at work.” 

“That is actually another thing the Equality Act looks into, bullying or harassment.

“I don’t think she should lose their job. She has every right to believe the way she believes… She is likely to be in line with the majority of the population.

“What we are trying to do as Government is to show that we believe that trans people should live their lives freely, but where people see conflict, that conflict has tended be around single-sex space and the definition and use of gender reassignment. What we can do to clarify that?

Banners saying 'Stock Out' had also been held alongside burning flares and scores of people were criticising her online under the Twitter hashtag #ShameOnSussexUni

A banner stating “Stock Out” was also displayed alongside burning flares. Scores of people were also criticizing her online under the hashtag #ShameOnSussexUni

Prof Stock announced her departure via Twitter on Thursday. I hope other institutions in similar situations will learn from this.

‘I’m especially glad to see University stress that bullying and harassment of anyone for their legally-held beliefs is unacceptable at work.

Ms Badenoch also emphasized that although the Government doesn’t believe in gender self identification for trans people it does believe that there should a process to obtain certificates of gender recognition that includes medical professionals.

She said that the Government would do all it could to support transgender people, including all LGBT people. However, transgender people are particularly in need of healthcare.

“But, although we don’t believe that it goes as far as self-identification, we do believe that there should exist a process to obtain a gender recognition certification, and that this process includes medical professionals.

Ms Badenoch stated that it was sad that the debate had become one of name-calling when she was told trans activists would claim that accepting the statement that trans women are females is itself a form violence.

Posters put up in the tunnel from Falmer station to the university's campus earlier this month said she 'makes trans students unsafe' and 'we're not paying £9,250 a year for transphobia'

Posters put up in the tunnel from Falmer station to the university’s campus earlier this month said she ‘makes trans students unsafe’ and ‘we’re not paying £9,250 a year for transphobia’

Kathleen Stock’s thoughts on gender and trans-related issues. 

Kathleen Stock explains her views on trans issues in written testimony to Parliament in November 2020.

  • Manhood and womanhood reflect biological sex, rather than gender or gender identity.
  • The claim that “transwomen” are women is a fiction and not true.
  • Sexual orientation (being gay or lesbian) is determined not by gender identity but by same-sex attraction.
  • Spaces where women sleep and undress should be kept sexless in order to protect them.
  • Children with gender identity disorder should not be allowed to take puberty blocks as minors.

She said, “What I would ask people is to actually look at the policies, what it’s doing to protect people of all kinds, whether they’re LGBT, of different races, racial backgrounds or the different sexes.

“We are a government that believes in equality for all and fairness for all. Everything we do is to ensure that we have an egalitarian society. We should not allow differing opinions to become a reason to offend others. This is absolutely wrong.

In the wake of her resignation, those behind anti-Stock protests, which have included spraying graffiti with the phrase ‘Stock Out’, took to social media to celebrate the professor’s departure.

The group shared an Instagram photo of the Wicked Witch of the West in Wizard of Oz. They also included the phrase “Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead” – a song from the film. 

Instagram page Antitfersussex, who describe themselves as an unaffiliated network of queer and trans students at the university, also posted a statement in response to Ms Stock’s departure, in which they said ‘good f*****g riddance’.   

The group stated in the statement that it was a major victory for trans students and non-binary students who protested against the university’s transphobia, abuse, discrimination and other forms of discrimination. 

“The full weight of colonial institutions, the national media circuit, and government ministers were no match for the unity, solidarity, and strength of the queer/trans communities at Sussex University.”

In a letter to staff issued on Friday, University of Sussex's Vice Chancellor Adam Tickell said they had 'vigorously' defended Professor Kathleen Stock's right to 'exercise her academic freedom and lawful freedom of speech, free from bullying and harassment of any kind'

On Friday, University of Sussex Vice Chancellor Adam Tickell wrote to staff defending Professor Kathleen Stock’s right ‘exercise her academic freedom, lawful freedom of speech, and free from bullying or harassment of any kind’

Professor Stock, 48, a specialist in gender and sexual orientation, was branded a “transphobe” by some outraged students, who demanded her to be fired for her comments on gender.

Posters put up in the tunnel from Falmer station to the university’s campus earlier this month said she ‘makes trans students unsafe’ and ‘we’re not paying £9,250 a year for transphobia’.

A banner stating “Stock Out” was also displayed alongside burning flares. Scores of people were also criticizing her online under the hashtag #ShameOnSussexUni. 

Adam Tickell, the Vice Chancellor of the University, strongly defended her untrammelled’ right to’say she thinks’. In addition, more than 200 academics at other universities signed a letter criticizing alleged abuses by ‘trans activist bullying’.

Professor Stock said on Twitter that she was sad to announce that she was leaving her position. She also stated that she hopes that “other institutions can learn from it”. 

In a letter addressed to staff, Adam Tickell, Vice-Chancellor of Sussex, stated that the university had defended her right to exercise her academic freedom and lawful speech freedom, free from bullying or harassment.

He added, “We had hoped Professor Stock could feel able return to work, which we would have supported to do so. 

“She has decided that the recent events have made it impossible. We respect and accept that decision. 

“We will be missing her many contributions, from whom the University has benefited throughout her time here.”