Oxford don branded 'transphobic' will head women's rights programme
28th September 2020

Oxford don branded ‘transphobic’ and faced with threats of violence after she spoke out against Labour’s trans policies will head new women’s rights research programme at the university

  • Selina Todd chosen to lead the Oxford Martin Programme on women’s rights 
  • She has previously been criticised by LGBT campaigners for ‘anti-trans’ views
  • Initiative aims to ‘eradicate educational and economic inequality for women’

A controversial academic accused of being transphobic will head a new women’s rights initiative at Oxford University.

Professor of Modern History Selina Todd is one of several people who were chosen to lead the Oxford Martin Programme on Women’s Equality and Inequality, which was announced earlier this month.

She has previously been criticised by LGBT campaigners for holding ‘anti-trans’ views and supporting Woman’s Place, a group branded as a ‘trans-exclusionary hate group’ by the Labour Campaign for Trans Rights.

In a statement published by St Hilda’s College, Professor Todd said: ‘We are very proud that Oxford will be home to this new research programme on women’s equality and inequality.

‘The idea for this initiative grew in part from a St Hilda’s research initiative called “Mind the Gap”, which brought together academics at all levels, including students, to discuss shared concerns in the research of inequality.’ 

Professor of Modern History Selina Todd is one of several people who were chosen to lead the Oxford Martin Programme on Women’s Equality and Inequality, which was announced earlier this month

It is unclear how the Oxford Martin Programme on Women’s Equality and Inequality will improve the rights of all women, including transgender women. 

The initiative, also led by Professor Senia Paseta, aims to ‘eradicate educational and economic inequality for women around the world’ by identifying ‘drivers of individual upward mobility.’       

Professor Todd came under fire earlier this year when she joined other speakers at the ‘Defend Me or Expel Me’ event in London, organised by Labour Women’s Declaration supporters.

She was one of nine headliners who spoke out against Labour’s trans rights pledges.

The event followed persistent backlash from the cancellation of Professor Todd’s talk at a feminist festival held at Exeter College.

She was uninvited from the event, which commemorated the 50th anniversary of Ruskin College’s inaugural Women’s Liberation Conference, after trans-inclusive feminists pointed out her ties with Woman’s Place. 

In a statement addressing the cancellation in March, Professor Todd said: ‘I am shocked to have been no-platformed by this event, organised by Oxford International Women’s Festival and hosted at Exeter College. 

Laurence Fox to launch new political party to fight ‘culture wars’ with £5million from former Tory donors 

Laurence Fox is launching a new political party to fight the ‘culture wars’ named Reclaim, and he has already raised more than £5million.

The actor, 42, has received substantial sums from former Tory donors and hopes to stand dozens of candidates across the UK.

The Lewis star says he wants to provide a movement for people who are ‘tired of being told that we represent the very thing we have, in history, stood together against’.

Among Fox’s aims in his new party are reforming the BBC and celebrating Britain’s contribution to the world, according to The Telegraph.

The party is provisionally called Reclaim and has a website named LaurenceFoxParty.

He hopes to launch the party next month and the name is subject to the Electoral Commission’s approval.

His website states: ‘Over many years it has become clear that our politicians have lost touch with the people they represent and govern. 

‘Moreover, our public institutions now work to an agenda beyond their main purpose.’

 

‘I was asked to participate in October 2019, and I explained to the organisers that some trans activists may object to my being there.

‘I was then told that trans activists had already expressed hostility towards the event because they claimed second-wave feminism is inherently trans-exclusionary.’  

Among those who spoke out against her exclusion was campaigner Julie Bindel, who told the organisers: ‘You should hang your heads in shame for giving into this mob.’ 

The Oxford University History Faculty also criticised the decision, saying: ‘We cannot accept the exclusion of our respected colleague Professor Selina Todd from the event, and that means that we withdrew from the weekend’s celebration. 

‘We recognise that it is not always straightforward to balance the rights of women with the rights of trans people, but we believe that the way forward is for us all to talk to one another.’

Professor Todd denies holding discriminatory views against trans people. 

Exeter College said at the time it was not responsible for her being banned.

In a lengthy statement posted on Twitter, the Oxford International Women’s Festival said it was not ‘responsible for requesting Professor Selina Todd not to speak’.  

The academic was provided security by Oxford University in January after she was informed by students of threats made against her on email threads. 

She said the threats, believed to have come from trans rights campaigners, left her feeling ‘vulnerable’.

The appointment comes amid rising condemnation of ‘cancel culture’, with British students now being taught it is a form of bullying and that ‘no platforming’ is an attack on our freedoms.  

As part of the Government’s drive to protect freedom of speech, secondary school students will learn that people with controversial opinions should be respected.  

In Department for Education training manuals, teachers are instructed to tell pupils that the ‘cancel culture’ which has taken root at many universities – where individuals call for a boycott of a person or company whose views they don’t agree with, in the hope they lose their job or clients – is not part of a ‘tolerant and free society’.

The move appears to be a direct response to incidents where mainstream speakers, including former home secretary Amber Rudd, have been blocked from speaking at universities by political opponents.

The comments are part of a slide presentation in a module on ‘respectful relationships’, as part of the new relationships and sex education curriculum beginning this year. 

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has repeatedly threatened legislation unless universities do more to protect freedom of speech on campus.

In one section, the department says teachers must not suggest that ‘children might be a different gender based on their personality and interests’.

Professor Todd, a professor in Modern History at St Hilda’s College (pictured), denies holding discriminatory views against trans people

It also warns schools not to work with organisations that promote the idea that ‘non-conformity to gender stereotypes should be seen as synonymous with having a different gender identity’.

The rules appear to be a response to increasing criticism of activist groups seen as pushing children and young people into transitioning gender, with many children saying later they regret their decision.

Trans-exclusionary radical feminist: What is a TERF?

The acronym has recently been applied to author JK Rowling amid an influx of accusations of transphobia.

It stands for trans-exclusionary radical feminist, and was commonly used to refer to a minority of feminists who largely rejected the assertion that trans women are women.

The meaning has recently expanded to refer more broadly to people with trans-exclusionary views who may have no involvement with radical feminism.

Those dubbed a TERF often reject the term, or consider it a slur. 

‘We are aware that topics involving gender and biological sex can be complex and sensitive,’ the guidance says. 

‘You should not reinforce harmful stereotypes, for instance by suggesting that children might be a different gender based on their personality and interests.’ 

Earlier this year, the Government was said to be preparing to set out new safeguards to protect female-only spaces – including refuges and public lavatories – to stop them being used by those with male anatomy. 

The details were said to be contained in a leaked paper setting out the Government’s long-delayed response to a public consultation on the Gender Recognition Act.

But a No 10 source said in June that the details of the response were yet to be finalised, and the Prime Minister would have the final say on the recommendations.  

The appointment of Professor Todd comes as JK Rowling became embroiled in yet another transphobia row last week, after she directed fans to a website selling badges and stickers saying ‘transwomen are men’. 

The author, 55, appeared to take aim at her critics when she tweeted a photograph of herself wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the slogan: ‘This witch doesn’t burn’.

She followed up her message with a link to the Wild Womyn Workshop, writing: ‘If you are (or know) a witch who wants one of these, don’t buy from cynical chancers.’

Furious critics were quick to point out that the website sells a series of other items they deemed ‘transphobic’, with users sharing images of badges reading ‘f*** your pronouns’ and ‘trans activism is misogyny’.

Wild Womyn Workshop, which has a category dedicated to ‘gender critical’ items, also sells a badge reading ‘dead men don’t rape’ alongside stickers stating ‘trans-ideology erases women.’    

The appointment of Professor Todd comes as JK Rowling became embroiled in yet another transphobia row last week, after she directed fans to a website selling badges and stickers saying ‘transwomen are men’

The author, 55, appeared to take aim at her critics, tweeting a photograph of herself wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the slogan: ‘This witch doesn’t burn’

In June, the Harry Potter author hit headlines after she mocked an online article using the words ‘people who menstruate’ instead of ‘women’. 

She was hit by what she described as ‘relentless attacks’ after she wrote: ‘I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?’ 

The acclaimed novelist then penned a deeply personal essay to address the controversy, revealing she was sexually assaulted in her 20s and saying she still feels the scars of ‘domestic violence’ in her first marriage. 

Rowling’s remarks sparked backlash from a range of stars including actors Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe and Eddie Redmayne.   

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