About a month and a half ago, I was on my way to work. I am – or at least I was – a professor at Sussex University, and that day I was teaching classes in feminist philosophy.

In the past, I’d been told my views on sex and gender identity were an embarrassment to Sussex.

Yet there was no sign of ‘embarrassment’ in the growing numbers of bright and curious students entering my classroom.

Kathleen Stock, recently resigned from her Professorship at Sussex University after controversy over her views on gender and trans issues

Kathleen Stock, recently quit her professorship at Sussex University following controversy about her views regarding gender and transgender issues

I got off the train and joined the crowd walking through a tunnel to the university entrance – to find the walls were plastered with posters, each one screaming my name in bold capitals.



I struggled to breath and ran back to the station. A railway worker gave me water after seeing my condition. Later that day, I saw an Instagram account titled ‘Kathleen Stock is a transphobe’. It showed balaclava-wearing figures brandishing flares and banners saying ‘Stock Out’.

The website called me a ‘spiteful bootlicker’ and urged its viewers to ‘get angry’. Until I was fired, said the anonymous authors, ‘you’ll be seeing us around’.

It is not Sussex University that I was a junior lecturer at in 2003. In 2003, students were reluctant to accept any moral convictions.

‘It’s all relative,’ they would insist.

There’s a lot more certainty now, which can be disconcerting in such young and inexperienced people.

In the past, my views wouldn’t have been considered controversial. I simply believe we should be free to debate the trans lobby’s growing demands that we recognise a person’s ‘gender identity’ rather than their biological sex.

Trans people are utterly hateful. These people need to be protected from abuse.

However, we need to look at what these demands are doing and how they affect women and girls.

HATE MOB: Protesters let off flares during a trans campaign against university professor Kathleen Stock

HATE MOB – Protesters set off fireworks during a transcampaign against Kathleen Stock (University of Michigan)

Why should people born as men – who’ve never had a sex change operation – be given access to female changing rooms, for example? Or refuges from domestic violence or women’s prisons?

Consider the impact on children’s health if they say that they want to switch genders but put themselves at risk of receiving irreversible medical treatment.

These topics interest me because I’m a teenage lesbian and have children. However, truth and freedom are important to me.

These are important issues that we need to discuss. I first started saying so three years ago. My surprise, many others including students and colleagues from Sussex disagreed with me.

Protests were held at my talks. There were protests at my talks. Students made demands to their bosses that I cease teaching feministism.

I was ‘no-platformed’ – disinvited from speaking in public – after protests. Fellow academics denounced me in open letters, even when I received an OBE last January.

That particular letter accused me of ‘transphobic fearmongering’, of helping to ‘restrict trans people’s access to life-saving medical treatment’ and of serving ‘to encourage the harassment of gender-nonconforming people’.

This is all utterly false.

The campus security manager was concerned for my safety and advised me to use the emergency phone system. He also arranged to place a spyhole inside my office door.

The campaign against me intensified when my March book Material Girls was published.

Yet, the vicious fury of these past weeks was something I couldn’t have imagined.

They were removed only for them to reappearance the following day.

I spotted stickers on the walls and doors in my building talking about ‘the transphobic s*** that comes out of Kathleen Stock’s mouth’.

Following demonstrations, they were continued. I was warned by the police to increase my home security.

One hundred mask-wearing men disrupted an University Open Day.

They made angry speeches and set off flares.

I did this despite being scared, demoralised and tired a few days later.

While it might be tempting to place the responsibility for the student’s actions on them, we must remember that the ringleaders also have a lot of blame. Things are much more complicated.

It was revealed that not many of the people who were involved actually knew my opinions.

They didn’t know, for instance, that I have repeatedly and sincerely stated my support for special legal protections for trans people.

What I was actually saying seemed to make no difference to people in the grip of what have been described as ‘luxury beliefs’.

Such frivolously held opinions can give the student protesters – often from privileged backgrounds – extra social status with their tribe.

In the past, Kathleen had been told her views on sex and gender identity were an embarrassment to Sussex

Kathleen was once told that her views regarding sex identity and gender were embarrassing to Sussex in the past.

Do not forget about the cost to those less fortunate.

One angry social media post showed a university workman removing a poster attacking me and asked this telling question: ‘Who do you serve, transphobes or students?’

What was it like to work for students since the beginning?

My oppressors did not know or care that a growing number of transgender people agreed with me about Stonewall’s excessive lobbying.

When questioned by onlookers, some protesters could only say that I was ‘very transphobic’ and that they had read this ‘on social media’.

They had heard the same thing in lectures.

At Sussex, as I have long known to my cost, there exists a group of academic colleagues – none of them to my knowledge trans themselves – who are hell-bent on disseminating false claims that I am ‘transphobic’, which is to say a hater of trans people.

Over the past three years, this slur on my character has been repeated by colleagues in classes, in department meetings and – of course – on social media.

When, in 2019, some students set up a public Facebook group to discuss ways to have me fired, academic colleagues posted on the page ‘in solidarity’.

One individual spent three years churning out tweets with the same monotonous message: ‘The views of Kathleen Stock make her a danger to every trans student at Sussex.’ This simply isn’t true, as the supportive emails I’ve had from trans students attest to.

As I write this, a former colleague, whose office was four doors from mine, is tweeting that there will never ‘be a full accounting of all the ways people within the institution aided and abetted her’.

‘Her’, of course, is me.

If supposedly responsible adults are acting so badly in public, can you blame young people following their lead?

All of this was debilitating. It was difficult at times to get out from bed, and I had difficulty getting up.

It is clear that I am not having a problem.

It is not right for anyone to have to suffer such an ordeal just so they can say their thoughts loudly.

Students and lecturers from Sussex University have been sent an awful message by the debacle: either remain silent or it will happen again.

This is an academic disaster for many universities.

Its public statements on my departure have strongly upheld the value of academic freedom, and that’s a decent start, but Sussex must now work hard to rectify the damage to its reputation and restore the confidence of staff and students.

Stonewall is an influence on the university that takes a rigid line about gender identity and condemns any debate.

According to them, everyone should be able to decide their gender using only their emotions.

PAINTED AS THE VILLAIN: Protests and graffiti by trans activists forced Sussex University professor Kathleen Stock, left, to resign

PAINTED AS A VILLAIN: Kathleen Stock (left), a Sussex University professor, was forced to quit due to protests and graffiti from trans activists.

Along with a number of institutions and most other universities, Sussex actually pays Stonewall to be a ‘diversity champion’. Sussex stated that it wants to become a member of the Stonewall Top 100 Employer Index in 2025.

The university will now be instructed by a lobby organization with extremist, unevidenced, and divisive views.

The Sussex Freedom of Information Requests show the depth of this intimate relationship.

They show that Stonewall’s stance has been embedded in the institution. University management already has modified internal policies so that any references to biological sexual sex will be virtually invisible. It is a chilling experience for students and staff who disagree.

It means I am said to be a ‘transphobe’ when I say that males who claim to be female on the basis of no more than their hidden inner feelings should be kept out of women’s prisons.

Or when I say that children should be given talking therapy not drugs should they announce they are ‘trapped in the wrong body’.

I know of many other academics who share my views and don’t mind expressing them. They are in desperate need of help. They are being bullied or forced to write in self-censorship.

‘Yes’ to argument and evidence. ‘No’ to witch-hunts and intimidation under the false guise of offering a ‘safe and inclusive environment’.

I can see it’s tempting to present campus life as a comforting cocoon – particularly when universities must compete for students. But the price of this can be ostracism for those who don’t fit.

Social herd members who are part of the awkward team pose a serious threat. It turns out that herds can be led. Sometimes they can become mobs.

Many bad ideas once seemed attractive until they were debunked by contrarians, eccentrics, heretics, naysayers, difficult women – and even down-the-line traditionalists. These people are an essential part of society and life. These people should not be ignored.

Don’t let the mob come for the rest of us, too.