Edinburgh University article on transphobia sparks protest by women's rights group

A women's rights group has accused Edinburgh University of misrepresenting women's concerns in an article entitled "What is Transphobia?", which it published online.

Edinburgh University has sparked a row with an online article on transphobia

ForWomenScot posted: "We are deeply troubled to see this from @EdinburghUni. Female lecturers are routinely harassed & put in fear on campus for arguing for legal rights. However, the university have chosen to publish a deeply political piece, misrepresenting women's concerns."

Susan Smith, a spokeswoman for the group, said the article, which appears on the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion section of the university's website, was "hugely biased" and much of it was "a low-grade attempt at a smear campaign".

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Part of the article says: "Some people use the phrase ‘reasonable concerns’ as a way to limit the rights of and marginalise trans and non-binary people.

"This is most common in the arguments about the use of female toilets and changing areas by trans women. While concerns for women’s safety are valid, there is no evidence that trans women pose any more danger than other women.

"This type of ‘reasonable concern’ is used frequently by trans-hostile groups, such as ultra-right wing campaigners and certain feminists. Another ‘reasonable concern’ is alarm at the increase in gender identity services for children, despite evidence that early support for individuals reduces psychological problems and suicide in later life.

"There is considerable misinformation about what happens in gender identity clinics, deliberately circulated to create fear and moral panic. These tactics mirror those used by campaigners against same-sex marriage who cited concerns about how the reform would pose a threat to families."

Ms Smith said: "One of the silliest things is this idea that safety and privacy for women are not compromised if you allow people to self-ID into women's spaces. That's clearly a nonsense and it shouldn't even be a point of contention.

“And this idea by saying that women are smearing an entire category of people is also ridiculous because obviously we sex-segregate spaces and we're not saying every single man is a potential attacker, but there is unfortunately a higher chance.

"So to say that concerns about safety evaporate the minute someone decides they self-ID is a nonsense.

"The whole of this article is saying that any concern, any conversation, any discussion of women's rights, is in effect bigotry."

A university spokesman said: “The University of Edinburgh is a safe place for difficult conversations. We are committed to defending freedom of speech and expression, as long as it is carried out within the law and in a respectful manner.

“The web-page in question was designed as a resource to support students, inform discussion, and help promote a respectful, diverse and inclusive community.

“Given the size of our community, it is inevitable that the ideas of different members will often and, quite naturally, conflict. We encourage members of our community to use their judgement and openly contest ideas that they oppose, and feel protected in doing so.”

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