‘You can’t change sex – biologically, that is impossible.’ That, by most people’s standards, is a simple observable truth. But by the standards of campus activists, it is tantamount to hate speech, deserving of merciless retribution.
The quote above is from Selina Todd, a professor of modern history at the University of Oxford. And for daring to express what most other people in this country would take to be common sense, she has been marginalised and threatened.
Todd has for months been treated by trans activists as if she is some kind of bigoted thug who needs to be chased off campus. She has been labelled a ‘transphobe’ and subjected to complaints insisting that it would be ‘impossible’ for her to teach trans students.
And for what? She doesn’t believe people can change their sex, via surgery or ‘self-identification’. And like many feminist academics, she has raised concerns about how proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act may affect women’s rights and women’s spaces.
She has also caught flak for her research. Todd, who focuses on women’s history, argues that women who posed as men in the past ‘were often lesbians seeking to protect themselves, or because they want[ed] to do jobs that were only available to men’.
Last year, she was the subject of a formal complaint, backed by a Facebook petition, purely on the basis of trans-sceptical things she had tweeted and retweeted on Twitter.
Todd’s is not an isolated case. Trans-sceptical academics have increasingly become pariahs on British campuses, and face remarkable intolerance and harassment.
Kathleen Stock, a professor of philosophy at the University of Sussex, has been fighting off a near-constant campaign against her.