Arthur Martin, Fiona Parker and Claire Duffin — Mail Online Nov 24, 2017
An academic was banned from giving a talk to university students after raising ‘non-conventional’ views about transgender issues.
Students had invited Heather Brunskell-Evans to speak at King’s College London about the dangers of pornography and the sexualisation of young women.
But the event was abruptly cancelled amid concerns that views she expressed on a radio show ‘would violate the student union’s “safe space” policy’.
Dr Brunskell-Evans, a research fellow at the university, appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Moral Maze programme last week to discuss ‘defining gender’.
She said adults could define themselves ‘in whichever way they want’ – but raised concerns about children doing the same.
She suggested that children should not be immediately branded ‘transgender’ if they start to express confusion over being male or female.
Her comments are understood to have prompted three complaints from transgender members of the Women’s Equality Party, accusing her of ‘promoting prejudice against the transgender community’.
Dr Brunskell-Evans, 67, is a member of the party and is its spokesman on sexual violence.
The King’s College students learned about these complaints and cancelled her speech to members of its Reproductive and Sexual Health Society at Guy’s Campus.
Last night the group refused to say whether she would be invited to talk at future events.
Dr Brunskell-Evans, who has repeatedly spoken of how porn degrades women, said there was ‘something very dark going on’. ‘People who were male are now in the Women’s Equality Party dictating what the party spokesman should say on issues affecting women and girls,’ she told The Times. ‘You could not write this.
‘The cowardliness of institutional response is more than reprehensible. No one will speak out. Good people are doing nothing as others get pilloried.
‘Organisations and individuals are petrified to be seen as taking any other view than unequivocally endorsing transgender doctrine. It’s truly shocking. How has the trans lobby become so powerful that people, including those medical practitioners about to be qualified in the specific field of sexual and reproductive health, are unwilling to tolerate a talk from me on another topic?
‘Truly, this language of violation and safe space is worthy of Orwell’s doublethink.’
Dr Brunskell-Evans accused the Women’s Equality Party of rendering her ‘free speech ideologically suspect… to protect the trans community, rather than swathes of girls who are increasingly subject to harmful medical practices’.
She said concerns over the use of hormone blockers on young girls who say they are boys are not being aired over ‘fear of accusations of transphobia’.
Alexandra Tate, president of the Reproductive and Sexual Health Society at King’s College, said the event had been cancelled ‘due to the short notice of these concerns being raised’.
She said: ‘We will endeavour to continue to host speakers whose opinions differ from convention, but in the future, we will make sure measures are in place to allow them to be explored safely.
‘We apologise to Dr Brunskell-Evans that we didn’t get these sorted in time for this event.’
When asked to clarify her statement last night, Miss Tate said it was designed to be ‘purposefully vague’. She said 12 members of the society had been expected to attend the talk. It is unclear if any are transgender.
Momin Saqib, president of King’s College students’ union, said: ‘This event was not flagged for being at risk of breaching policies and we were not approached for a view on the speakers.
‘The decision to uninvite a speaker did not come from the students’ union. However, we will look into this matter further.’
The Women’s Equality Party confirmed that it was investigating Dr Brunskell-Evans.
A spokesman said: ‘The party has not silenced or sanctioned the subject of the complaint in any way. We are reviewing a complaint, in line with our constitution.’
Bath Spa University has previously been accused of banning a study on transgender people who regret changing sex. It blocked the project because it feared a backlash on the internet could damage its reputation.