After sparking student protests about her views on transgender topics, the University of Sussex professor resigned. She claimed that some of her colleagues stoked the fire that led to her resignation.  

Kathleen Stock, 48, a professor of Philosophy at the University of Sussex, had faced angry calls to be sacked last month by students at the university following accusations of transphobia after she said people cannot change their biological sex. 

The academic spoke for the first-time about her resignation from her post on BBC Woman’s Hour today. She said that she still believes trans women aren’t girls and trans men aren’t guys, but that these views can be ‘compatible with protecting the rights of trans people’. 

She called her expulsion from the English university “completely humiliating” and “a defining moment” in her life, but said she had no regrets’ about it and maintained her belief that women-only spaces should not be destroyed.  

Stock said that it was an anxious experience to return to campus to retrieve belongings. She even felt anxious taking the train to Woman’s Hour studio. 

First interview: Professor of Philosophy Kathleen Stock, 48, resigned from the University of Sussex last month after students called for her to be sacked for her views on transgender people - she told Emma Barnett on BBC's Woman's Hour that a small group of colleagues had 'radically misrepresented' her views on gender

First interview: Kathleen Stock (Professor of Philosophy), 48, resigned last month from the University of Sussex following students calling for her to be fired over her views about transgender people. Stock told Emma Barnett, BBC’s Woman’s Hour on BBC’s Woman’s Hour she was being ‘radically misrepresented’ by a few colleagues

Professor Kathleen Stock

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

Stock (left) was faced with calls to be fired amid transphobia accusations, but she decided to resign. Today, Stock spoke to Woman’s Hour the first time since her resignation.

Stock suggested that the views of a small group of academics against her inflamed student protests. She stated: “I don’t know whether the student activity would’ve been there if it hadn’t already been.”

She spoke on Radio 4 for 30 minutes about how the ‘intense student activity’ resulted from ‘three-and a half years of low-level bullying, harassment, and reputation-trashing’ by her colleagues. This began, she said, when she started writing about gender identity policy. 

Instead of arguing with her directly, she claimed that some staff had mobilised students against them during lectures.

She explained that there was a small group who disagree with what I said. Instead of engaging in arguments with me, using reason and evidence, the traditional university method, they told their students in lectures, that I could cause harm to trans students. They even go on Twitter to say that I’m racist. 

She told Barnett ‘feeling unsafe doesn’t mean you are unsafe’ and she hopes the students realise ‘the world is not as hostile towards them as they think it is’.  

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’

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour Emma Barnett, Stock said returning to campus to retrieve her belongings was an 'anxious' experience

Stock spoke to Emma Barnett of BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour. She said that returning to campus to retrieve her belongings was a ‘anxious’ experience.

The professor said she had 'no regrets' about leaving her role and stood by her views that female-only spaces should be protected

The professor stated that she had no regrets about quitting her job and maintained her belief that women-only spaces should not be endangered.

The feminist professor, who identifies as a lesbian, said that she first became aware of the complexities of the trans rights movement when she saw ‘men’ on lesbian dating websites. 

When asked by Woman’s Hour host if she meant’men’, she replied: ‘I do not know what they were’. She explained that some people had a physical appearance traditionally considered masculine but ‘with feminine names’.  

She explained that “lesbian” is one category of the many categories that are changing. Lesbians feel pressured to accept that transgender people can be lesbians. This has led to lesbians being more aware of this than straight people.

‘There isn’t any pressure on straight women as there is on straight men. 

She continued to say that she was ostracized while working at the university, and that she experienced a terrible anxiety dream’ when her name was plastered on campus posters reading Stock Out’ or Stock is a Transphobe.  

Stock said: “The narrative about me, is so far from who I think I am.” 

The academic said that she had ‘happily’ taught trans students throughout the course of her career and that they were contacted following her resignation. She also stated that her book was not a threat for trans and non-binary people. 

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'

Adam Tickell, University of Sussex Vice-Chancellor, wrote Friday to staff that they had ‘vigorously defended Professor Kathleen Stock’s right to exercise her academic freedom and lawful speech freedom, free from bullying, harassment of any sort’

Despite Stock’s assurances that they wouldn’t sack her and her ‘vigorously, unequivocally’ standing up for her right of academic freedom and legal freedom speech, free from bullying or harassment, she decided to quit last week. 

“So they create an atmosphere in which students are more extreme and more empowered to do the same thing they did.”

She explained that although she isn’t saying that they deliberately set out to cause this, she believes that students view academics as role models. 

“If you are a student in a class and your lecturer says, “There are some views that are just beyond what should be debated.”

“Then automatically when you say something that makes your bigot. 

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.

  • The biological sex of womanhood and manhood is reflected in the gender identity and not gender.
  • The claim that “transwomen” are women is fiction.
  • Sexual orientation (being homosexual, being lesbian, etc.) is determined by the same-sex attraction and not gender identity.
  • Spaces where women undress or sleep should be kept strictly single-sex to protect them.
  • Children with gender identity disorder should not be allowed to take puberty blocks as minors.

“You only need to go to Twitter to see who has said it.

“This is a small group of people who are really quite extreme. In departmental meetings, people misrepresent my views by saying, “Oh she thinks all transwomen are rapists.” Or she she is a bigot. She is horrible, she doesn’t like transgender people”‘.

“And all this is completely false.” I am becoming less able to alter the narrative.   

Kathleen announced last week that she was leaving her job due to ‘an absolutely terrible time’ and a’very difficult few of years’. 

Kemi Badenoch, Equalities minister, backed the professor and said to Trevor Phillips on Sunday that she was ‘appalled’ by the way the scholar was treated.

On Thursday, she announced her resignation via Twitter. She wrote: “These have been very difficult years, but the leadership’s approach more recently was admirable and decent. I hope that other institutions facing similar situations can learn from my experience.

“I am particularly glad to see University stressing that harassment and bullying anyone for their legally held beliefs in the workplace is unacceptable.”

Professor Stock, an expert on gender and sexual orientation, was outraged by students who demanded her to be fired after her comments about 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’.

In addition to holding banners stating “Stock Out”, hundreds of people were also critiquing her online under #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 calling for an end to abuses by ‘trans activist bullying’.

Professor Stock, however, announced via Twitter Friday that she was’sad’ to announce her resignation and that she hoped that ‘other institutions could learn from this’.

In a letter to staff Adam Tickell, Sussex’s Vice-Chancellor, stated that the university had defended her right ‘exercice her academic freedom, lawful freedom speech, free of bullying and harassment of any sort’.

He added, “We had hoped Professor Stock could feel able return to work. And we would have supported that.”

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

“We will miss her many contributions, which the University has benefited from during her time here.