UK University Accused of Fostering Transphobic Culture by Stocking ‘Dead Names’ of Students, Staff
The issue of gender-neutral language has recently sparked controversy, as many activist groups, especially in universities, aim to impose an “inclusive vocabulary.” While proponents claim it is designed to end discrimination, critics believe that the practice infringes on the rights of people who don’t belong to the LGBTQ+ community.
Students and employees at Leeds University in West Yorkshire, England, have complained about a “deeply entrenched culture of transphobia“ and reportedly demanded senior staff to use gender-neutral pronouns while introducing themselves in meetings as a sign of “solidarity.”
In a letter
, activists have demanded vice-chancellor Simone Buitendijk start adding gender pronouns to her letters and “rapidly address and effectively rectify the current discriminatory situation.”
They also claimed that that the educational establishment fosters a hostile environment for transgender staff and students by keeping transgender people's “dead names” — their pre-transition names — in the computer database.
The university did acknowledge that there is a need “to do more to alleviate concerns that have been put to us and are working with our community to do so,” The Times reports
“We have a clear and unwavering commitment to ensuring equality, diversity and inclusion for all,” the university reportedly said. “The use of pronouns — in emails or in meetings — is a personal choice. We do not have policies on this, but do provide support and resources to help inform that choice.”
The events forced philosophy professor Kathleen Stock to resign earlier this week after accusations of her being a “transphobe,” something that she denied.
The professor reportedly triggered controversy after assuming that gender identity does not outweigh biological sex “when it comes to law and policy.” She also suggested that people are not able to change sex, causing outrage among activists.
The 48-year-old gender and sexual orientation expert revealed that she has received death threats as part of a “bullying and harassment” campaign.
This has added to a series of similar incidents in some universities across the world, where questions of language policing
have been raised by various activist groups. Earlier this year, the University of Manchester issued a new “inclusive language” guide
to facilitate “equality” by forgoing non-gender-neutral words such as “mother” and “father.”