I’m republishing here a short article entitled “Sussex Uni decide not to take action against Kathleen Stock over trans comments,” which was written by a then-student journalist named Katie Tobin, and initially published by a student newspaper called The Tab in November 2018.
It was, however, quickly withdrawn from circulation after a set of legal threats issued by Prof. Stock, who claimed that the article had defamed her. Seemingly intimidated by being the object of a legal threat, The Tab withdrew the article and published this correction:
It is not normal for faculty to threaten to sue student newspapers. I cannot think of another occasion on which this has happened. And yet it is part of a pattern on which I have reported before, in which UK-based gender critical activists launch meritless lawsuits at students and activists who lack the financial means to defend themselves in court, and are forced to fold. Their having done so is then treated as a “win,” and the UK media duly report that some gender critical feminist has won a famous battle against online bullies. The truth, as we can see, is the exact opposite: institutionally secure academics using their money and power to silence their critics.
You will notice that the alleged defamations are (1) that a meeting of the Philosophy department at Sussex was convened to discuss general issues, not Prof. Stock’s conduct specifically, and (2) that Prof. Stock believes that trans people should not be the subject of discrimination.
In respect of the first alleged defamation, Katie’s article below did not claim that the forum was convened to venture Prof. Stock, merely that “the department of philosophy is listening to students, and is welcoming students to voice their concerns.” Does Prof. Stock think that this is defamatory?
In respect of the second alleged defamation, Prof. Stock’s claim that she does not believe trans women should be the subject of discrimination is, at the very least, ambiguous. Prof. Stock believes that trans women should be sent to male prisons, use men’s restrooms, participate in men’s sporting events. It is like saying that a ban on gay marriage isn’t discriminatory, because gay men enjoy the same right to get straight-married as anyone else.
In other words, these defamation claims are scandalously weak, and The Tab should not have withdrawn the article.
I believe that Prof. Stock simply wished to use her institutional clout to silence a critic—a tactic that she, and the broader “gender critical” movement, have deployed time and again. The critic was, at that time, a nineteen year old first-year student at Sussex University, at whom Prof. Stock directed her hateful Twitter followers. To defend herself against the charge that she had treated a student poorly, Prof. Stock claimed to an internal review board that she didn’t know that Katie was, indeed, a student. I don’t believe that that was true: The Tab was a student newspaper, and the article in question concerned student welfare.
I’m also curious as to which legal firm advised Prof. Stock of the credibility of her defamation claims against The Tab. Perhaps it was an unscrupulous company looking to steal a few quid from a student newspaper. Perhaps there was no law firm, and Prof. Stock wrote the letter of intent to sue without, in fact, having sought legal advice or representation. Most troublingly of all, perhaps the letter came from University of Sussex counsel, since we know that Vice-Chancellor Adam Tickell had cut corners and changed policies to protect his Twitter celebrity philosopher.
These issues matter, because to this day the institutional corruption at Sussex University, and throughout the gender critical movement, has yet to receive any serious attention in the UK media.
So, I’m trying something new. With Katie’s permission, I’m reprinting her initial article from 2018. If it was defamatory then, it is defamatory now, and I will be receiving a letter from Prof. Stock or her representatives detailing the case for defamation. The absence of such a letter might be taken as an admission that the original claim against Katie was without merit. But worse, it would confirm something we already have grounds to believe: that Prof. Stock would never send such a letter to a person like me, since I have the means to defend myself against the frivolous and censorious lawsuits she uses to frighten her own students. It would confirm that gender critical activists like Prof. Stock have no interest in open debate and discussion, and only wish to leverage every degree of possible influence to shut up those who disagree with them.
Sussex Uni decide not to take action against Kathleen Stock over trans comments
by Katie Tobin
Following recent events at Sussex, the once welcoming, diverse, and accepting reputation towards the LGBTQ+ community that was once held by the university has been put into question.
National coverage of Kathleen Stock’s interview with the Argus this summer stating “trans women are still males with male genitalia” and her recent email to every student in the philosophy department have created a hostile and unwelcoming atmosphere within the university towards trans students.
Trans students are an already marginalised group. However, members of staff, who are in a duty of care towards students, openly writing articles such as “why self-identification should not legally make you a woman” have proved extremely detrimental towards the welfare of trans students at Sussex. This appears to be all in the name of philosophical debate and academic freedom.
One student at Brighton said: “I came to Sussex hoping that’s it inclusive because it’s in Brighton. I identify as male and I don’t want to go to a university that supports this person… I’ve chosen Brighton University over Sussex for further study because of this.”
The conclusion of the recent HAHP forum was that ultimately, as an institution, the university cannot currently take action against Kathleen due to the academic nature of her writing and the disassociation with her own beliefs with those of the university.
However, the department of philosophy is listening to students, and is welcoming students to voice their concerns.
The Sussex Centre for Gender Studies released a statement earlier this week to show solidarity with trans students, stating: “On Transgender Day of Remembrance, we are also reflecting with sadness on the hostile atmosphere being fostered by current ‘debates’ around the rights of transgender people.
“These have constructed trans people as aggressors and predators, erasing the fact that they are one of the most vulnerable groups in our society.
“Such transphobic ideas in public discourse create a climate in which trans people are more likely to feel unsafe, and can also embolden others to act out their prejudices in a more open way.”
Reaching out for help is hard, especially if you don’t know where to turn to – so we have compiled a list of support services available to trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming students if you are in need.
Allsorts Youth Project
The Allsorts Youth Project provides a safe space for members of the LGBTQ+ community for a fortnightly meeting. “Young people are able to meet in a comfortable & confidential setting, access one to one support with youth support workers, access information and participate in workshops and activities.”
Brighton & Hove Switchboard
The Brighton & Hove LGBT Switchboard is a charity that was set up in 1975. Formerly a just helpline, Switchboard now offers a place for “LGBTQ people looking for community, support or information.”
They connect people and support them directly through specially developed Switchboard services or link them to other specialist organisations.
The Student Life Centre
The Student Life Centre can provide students with a directory to helpful resources all over campus; including counselling and more.
MindOut is a charity that focuses on the mental health of members of the LGBTQ+ community. Last year they helped 1,342 people struggling with social isolation, suicidal distress, financial hardship, discrimination and prejudice, hate crime and exclusion.
Clinic T offers a sexual health service for anyone who identifies as trans, non-binary or gender variant (partners are welcome too).
The clinic runs every month and upcoming dates are posted above. All of their services are free and completely confidential, and their staff have been trained in trans awareness.
Remember, you’re never alone and there is always someone who can help if you’re struggling.