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Philosophy professor at UK university resigns after transgender rights row

Philosopher says she suffered ‘absolutely horrible time’ as students called her for removal


Professor Kathleen Stock

Professor Kathleen Stock

Professor Kathleen Stock

A philosophy professor who became embroiled in a row over transgender rights has stepped down from her role at the University of Sussex.

Kathleen Stock, who has an OBE for her contribution to higher education, had faced calls to be sacked over her stance on gender identity.

The controversy centres on her view that a person’s self-declared gender does not trump their biological sex, “particularly when it comes to law and policy”.

Prof Stock believes that female-only spaces such as changing rooms should not be open to self-identifying trans women.

As a result, the academic was accused of transphobia, with an anonymous group, allegedly led by students, campaigning for her to be fired.

Posters to this effect were reportedly put up near the university campus, while an image of a protester holding a banner reading “Stock Out” appeared online.

Announcing her decision to leave the university, Prof Stock explained how the last few years had been “very difficult” and “an absolutely horrible time” for her and her family.

“I’m putting it behind me now. On to brighter things soon, I hope,” she said.

Professor Adam Tickell, the vice-chancellor of the University of Sussex, said in a statement that the institution was sorry to see her go. “Her departure is a loss to us all,” he wrote.

He added that harassment and bullying had no place at the university. “Rigorous academic challenge is welcome. However, we have seen an intolerance of her as a member of our community because of her work,” Prof Tickell said.

“This is now, and will always be, in direct opposition to even the most basic principles of academia.”

He also said that “no substantive allegations of wrongdoing” had been made against Prof Stock.

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A university spokesperson later expressed the institution’s “gratitude for her significant contributions as a teacher and academic”.

Prof Stock has previously said her views are “at odds” with many of her colleagues.

Earlier in October, the local branch of the University and College Union (UCU) said Sussex University should give “unequivocal support” to all trans and non-binary members.

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