by Julie Bindel
Wednesday, 11
August 2021
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The University of Essex abandons its faculty to ideologues

The institution has rowed back on its apology to two gender critical academics
by Julie Bindel
Jo Phoenix supposedly made transgender staff feel physically unsafe for her views on gender

The University of Essex is fast becoming an example of what happens when institutions capitulate to extreme transgender ideology.

In May the university apologised to two female academics for preventing them from taking part in seminars following baseless accusations of transphobia. The university admitted that they had made “serious mistakes” to Professors Freedman and Phoenix, who are not employed by Essex, and in a damning report, barrister Akua Reindorf criticised the university’s actions. The Vice Chancellor assured both academics that recommendations in the report would be actioned.

But it appears that either he has caved to pressure from staff and students, or that such assurances were part of a PR strategy designed to encourage the professors not to take matters further.

Following the publication of the report, an open letter was sent to the Vice Chancellor by Essex staff and students complaining that the Reindorf report would have a “significant negative impact on student and staff wellbeing”. Minutes from the Senate (the governing academic body) discussing the review were subsequently leaked to the Universities and Colleges Union. Shortly thereafter, widespread complaints and Freedom of Information requests about the report and apology were sent. Within six weeks, the VC apologised to staff and students for releasing the report — before exams and during pride month no less — and for “anyone having been made to feel unsafe as a result of the Review”.

In the latest episode of this shameful debacle, last week the university informed Freedman and Phoenix that it plans to publish their personal data that had previously been redacted. The two academics told me that, according to the university, they made transgender and nonbinary staff and students feel physically unsafe. Why? For simply holding the views that sex is immutable and that spaces like prisons should remain segregated according to biological sex. 

This is part of an ongoing pattern of behaviour from many universities across the UK and elsewhere. Feminist and human rights academic experts are routinely hounded, cancelled and even blacklisted. They deal with calls to have them fired from their jobs and face Kafkaesque trials based on pernicious and spurious complaints to their employers. They are told that they make students and staff terrified as a result of their mere presence on campus. And while the University of Essex appeared to be taking these issues seriously, what has happened to Freedman and Phoenix shows how much power the trans lobby has when it comes to academic institutions. The VC has done a U-turn and appears to have caved to pressure.

Despite the initial apology, the University has done nothing to remedy the appalling treatment of Freedman and Phoenix. Essex told Phoenix that it was ruling out any possibility of investigating the violent, potentially illegal, threats made against her by a student.

The University has power and resources, including access to legal advisers. The professors have no recourse to justice via the Employment Tribunal because they’re not employed by Essex. But if they were, they would have a strong claim based on discrimination grounds.

Yet at the same time, to bring a claim requires them to put their homes on the line. Their reputations were badly damaged by the University’s actions, and for the VC to ‘apologise’ for the Reindorf report and then threaten to release personal data is nothing short of a disgrace.

The University of Essex has been contacted for comment.

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Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
11 months ago

I’m not sure why trans activism seems to have such an outlandish hold on our institutions. It’s weird. If anything advertises the poison of radical Marxist identity politics it’s this.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
11 months ago
Reply to  Cheryl Jones

I do think it’s quite funny though that Julie B is so exercised about this. She is actually all for all institutions being run by ideologues, as long as they are ideologues of whom she approves. Being run by doctrinaire nutters is not automatically bad – it all depends on the doctrine.

David McDowell
David McDowell
11 months ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Indeed, Bindel would be quite happy to have these institutions run by aggressive feminist ideologues.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
11 months ago
Reply to  Cheryl Jones

Women can be men if they want to and men can be women too. A perfect strategy to undermine patriarchy. Collateral damage occurs to feminism – unintended consequence perhaps.

No. Transgenderism is an inverted form of patriarchy, albeit it an extremely unwholesome version. This movement consists of incels who are disguising themselves as (lesbian?) women in order to get wider access into women’s spaces. A man who celebrates and flaunts his ‘femininity’ receives public approval while a man going to work every day and providing for his family receives zero attention. Good men have been taught that they are surplus to society’s needs and so are staying quiet while going off and finding good women to marry.
Women now are discovering that the ‘patriarchy’ of the emerging rainbow police state is a worse form of oppression than the one their university lecturers kept warning them about. Note how it is never men who are accused of being transphobic.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
11 months ago
Reply to  Cheryl Jones

No, it is purely an attempt to destroy the West – although it does use the emotive thing of ‘protecting the under dog’ to rally the Useful idiots.

Are any of you literate guys out there able to help me – I cannot remember if it was from one of the OZ series of books, or the Alice books, but I remember a kind of character which was made of glass (not the glass cat, but people) And when you spoke harshly at them they would shatter into pieces and you would have to stop and put them back together again like a puzzle, and then they would be able to continue talking…

Does anyone remember them? I spent a wile searching through the on-line sites but never could find them….

But what a perfect analogy they would make of the idiot young, and immature middle aged, today…

Wilfred Davis
Wilfred Davis
11 months ago

‘ … according to the university, they made transgender and nonbinary staff and students feel physically unsafe.’

Well, of course they did. They were suspected of holding an opinion the students might not like. Someone might easily die from that, obviously.

‘Essex told Phoenix that it was ruling out any possibility of investigating the violent, potentially illegal, threats made against her by a student.’

Yeah, but I mean who cares, she might hold a bad opinion or something. Deserves anything coming her way. Don’t trouble us with your so-called ‘laws’ and stuff.

[Irony off.] Seriously, what do universities exist for if they promote the idea that someone else’s opinion might harm you … actually physically harm you?

Stephen Rose
Stephen Rose
11 months ago

Via Action aid, I have been sponsoring the education of a young woman in Afghanistan. She hoped to be a systems analyst. If anybody currently feels the right to claim that they are “unsafe” it is her.
The University of Essex needs to grow a backbone, before it becomes ungovernable. If the rough and tumble of conflicting argument is too salty for some students, they should seriously consider whether University is the right place for them.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
11 months ago

More casualties of the emerging rainbow police state.

Simon Diggins
Simon Diggins
11 months ago

“Go woke; go broke.” The government should simply withdraw all and any funding it provides, directly or indirectly through agencies, to any institution that will not unequivocally support free speech and debate and/or refuses to investigate threats to free speech.

William Cameron
William Cameron
11 months ago

A university that denies freedom of expression and discussion of different opinions is not a university and should not have charter as such.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
11 months ago

That would be a really good move. The government should be prepared to defund outfits like this, and to remove their university status such that anyone who matriculates there from or after the next academic year does not receive a degree at the end of their course. Those already there would still graduate with a degree, but anyone who has not yet started would know that the end result is no degree.
It’s a disgrace that no university has gone bust. If you pay for a course at one that’s worthless people should stop going there and the place should close.

natalie mckenna
natalie mckenna
11 months ago

they made transgender and nonbinary staff and students feel physically unsafe

The reality is that University management actually are making many female staff and students physically unsafe. It’s not just the fear of losing your job or place: the social media rhetoric of the extreme transrights activists that have the ear of too many VCs is persistently violent and misogynistic, has a huge terrorising impact on women. Julie Bindel was herself physically attacked by an activist.
This fear is real: it’s not the passive-aggressive confected and unevidenced ‘fear’ of the activists, who have never been physically threatened by feminists or women who don’t believe transwomen are women.
VCs should start ditching Stonewall and wake up.

Sharon Overy
Sharon Overy
11 months ago

Today’s Spectator reports that the BBC has changed its definition of homosexual to be attraction to someone of the same gender, not sex.

Every institution seems to be folding to the trans-activist ideology.

Andrea X
Andrea X
11 months ago
Reply to  Sharon Overy

I think that has been the case for a while.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
11 months ago

I remember reading back during the very start of WWI, how all the university young men debated wither to join right away, or finish their degree and go in as an officer.

My father was in University when the WWII war began, he finished his course (it was a scientific one, and very useful) and once graduated went right to the Army. (He never even became an officer, but so useful was his qualification went right to work as a private doing his skill to save all that extra training time)

“Jo Phoenix supposedly made transgender staff feel physically unsafe for her views on gender”

Different times……

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
11 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Jonathan Haidt mentions this in ‘The Coddling of the American Mind’. In ensuring that children never experience risk or failure, modern-day parents and teachers have created narcissistic demagogues that want to hurt and destroy anyone who makes them feel the slightest bit uncomfortable. They go on to acquire college degrees but have never developed beyond the emotional stage of a two-year old toddler.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
11 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Interesting point. In effect, because it’s all about themselves and what they feel, there is a class of college graduate with no empathy; no fellow-feeling or ability to understand another’s perspective. This is pretty much the defining deficiency of the clinical psychopath.
Psychopathy is not too strong a word for the state of mind institutions like that described seek to foster.

William Cameron
William Cameron
11 months ago

How can holding an opinion about biology make someone unsafe .

David Crowther
David Crowther
11 months ago

Something similar also recently occurred at Cardiff University. A number of academics signed an open letter to the vice chancellor, encouraging the university to cut ties with Stonewall as a number of other institutions have done over concerns that the organisation has too much influence and is stifling free debate on these issues. As a result, the academics in question came under attack by idealogues from the university Anarchist society and other groups. It was honestly quite chilling. Not sure what’s happened since as it’s gone quiet. Worrying times though.

Kathryn Allegro
Kathryn Allegro
11 months ago

The vast majority of m-to-f ‘transgender women’ are transvestites. Contrary to the I’m-suffering-because-I-was-born-in-the-wrong-body myth, they are quite happy to retain their functional and functioning male bodies, while claiming the right to be regarded as women and thus to have access to women’s spaces. Is it transphobic to object to male-bodied people having access to these spaces? Perhaps androphobic is a more accurate term.
The trans movement has been very successful (1) in perpetuating the born-in-the-wrong-body narrative (i.e. it’s like a birth defect, so deserving of sympathy); (2) in conflating ‘sex’ with ‘gender’ (the media, e.g. the BBC, have gone along with this – shame on them); and (3) in convincing the gullible public that identifying as a woman is the same as being one….
 
 
 

Charles Lewis
Charles Lewis
11 months ago

No. The public are not convinced. You only have to read the thousands of adverse comments re the lunacy of gender identity and the TG ideology on the various platforms to understand that the British public do not want this toxic rubbish in the country. It is the institutions and corporations and so forth who have been frightened out of their wits (literally) or just seduced into being ‘progressive’, either way making themselves obscene in the process.

Jonathan A Gallant
Jonathan A Gallant
11 months ago

Permit me to put in a word for my own marginalized group: we of the trans-species, oppressed by having been born in a human body when we feel we really belong to a different species. Personally, I feel myself to really be a Himalay Snow Leopard, except on weekends, when I am a Hibiscus plant. Anyone who addresses me as anything else makes both of us feel unsafe.

Michael James
Michael James
11 months ago

Modern McCarthyites have learned to mask their bigotry and intolerance in the passive-aggressive guise of victimhood.

jonathan carter-meggs
jonathan carter-meggs
11 months ago

I aspire to be a rational reductionist and can define sex as an integral part of reproduction without associating it with any social implications. If one member of the species is sexually attracted to another member and they are both functioning members of the opposite biological sex then they can procreate. At a minimum this holds true for all mammals and seems to be incapable of being reduced further or ignored (NB that is not to say there are not work-arounds). The two mammals involved are of equal standing/status in the arrangement but are clearly different by way of their differing roles and what they bring to the procedure. Neither can decide to play the other role or (currently) make sufficient changes through surgery to assume the other role. Consequently a difference does exist in fact that cannot be ignored or wished away.

David McDowell
David McDowell
11 months ago

Why didn’t Phoenix report the student who made violent threats against her to the police?

Ian nclfuzzy
Ian nclfuzzy
11 months ago

The government should revoke their degree-awarding rights……

Alan Hawkes
Alan Hawkes
11 months ago

There is an article, “The Age of Fragility” on the Law & Liberty website. It is by John O McGinnis and offers a wide-ranging comment on how demands for personal mental safety are emerging in western society.
It seems we are adding new needs to the top of Maslow’s pyramid.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
11 months ago

Has a sentence gone missing from this piece? The standard one where Julie blames all-men?

Dustin Needle
Dustin Needle
11 months ago

Ideologues flourish anywhere the public purse is open.

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
11 months ago

We don’t know what the conclusions of the Reindorf Report are based on as all 36 pages of ‘Facts and Evidence’ in the report are redacted.

Charles Lewis
Charles Lewis
11 months ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

Yes we do. Stonewall lies, stating that gender identity is a protected characteristic under equality legislation when it isn’t. They would llke it to be — God help us if it were.