“Sometimes I Feel Like I’m Choking”: Experiences of Being Gender Critical in Higher Education
By two anonymous female academics at UK universities, founders of the Gender Critical Academia Network website
We are two academics working in Higher Education (HE) institutions in the UK. In February 2021, we set up the Gender Critical Academia Network as an anonymous place for those involved in university life—students, academics, professional service staff—to post their experiences of being gender critical. In recent years it has been very difficult to voice any opinion or concerns about the erosion of sex-based rights in law, policy and practice for those working or studying in HE. Inspired by a Mumsnet thread where academic and professional service staff and students spoke of their experiences of fear, isolation and silence at university, we wanted to create a space where personal experiences could be made public anonymously. We hoped we could help people feel less isolated, as well as document the situation for gender critical staff and students in universities.
The format of the Gender Critical Academia Network website was simple. We planned to share the website using Twitter and invite people to submit their stories using an online form which we then reviewed and published accordingly. The first week of the website being live was an intense experience. We had around a hundred submissions in the first three days alone, indicating the appetite for this resource from staff and students. Whilst the majority of the stories are from the UK we had submissions from academics working in other countries including the USA, Argentina, Australia and Canada. We also had an extraordinary amount of spam, as trolls attempted to block and overwhelm our site. We had around 400 trolling emails in the first three days. The content of this was highly predictable, telling us to shut up, calling us TERFs and bitches, as well as sexual and threatening content. Several emails just contained the word ‘penis’ repeated. Misogyny boiled down to the bare bones. The website was also mass reported as a hate site and temporarily removed from service providers. This experience vindicated our own decision to stay personally anonymous. It also directly mirrored the experiences described in the genuine submissions which were arriving. What follows is a thematic discussion drawing on the accounts submitted to our site, which illuminate some of the prevalent issues currently being faced by university staff (academic and professional services) and students, and highlight a culture of fear, isolation, frustration and bewilderment in Higher Education.
Throughout our discussion we use the term ‘genderism’ to describe the combined intellectual and political project which has swept through universities. This project will be familiar to readers of THE RADICAL NOTION, but in short comprises the idea that gender identity, how masculine or feminine an individual feels, should replace sex as an political and analytical category in society. This project includes changing the meaning of sex-specific language, such as woman, man and lesbian, to include members of the opposite sex. It also includes advocating for the replacement single sex services, spaces and sports with mixed sex versions. These changes all disadvantage women who are oppressed on the axis of biological sex.
These ideas have gained hold in the academy through three main routes. One is through theory, as these ideas have taken root amongst certain groups of academics, particularly those working in gender studies (formerly women’s studies) and queer scholarship (formerly lesbian and gay studies). Secondly, these ideas are enforced through Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) policies in universities, under the guise of ‘trans inclusion’. Finally the push for accepting genderism often comes from students. Anecdotally, the latter is more acute in elite institutions. Ubiquitous across all these domains is a culture of intimidation and censure, where those who disagree with the erosion of sex-based language are cast as bigoted and transphobic.
The encroachment of genderism into UK universities has led to increasing conflict in recent years, in the academic arm of what is often referred to as the ‘gender wars’. There have been several high profile cases of women facing severe censure, harassment and intimidation when taking a gender critical stance. Perhaps the most well known is that of Professor Kathleen Stock, a philosopher who faced threatening masked protests at Sussex University in September 2021 leading to her resignation. As we write, the criminologist Professor Jo Phoenix is in the process of suing the Open University for harassment due to her gender critical position. In June 2021, Professor Phoenix led the launch of the Gender Critical Research Network at the Open University, a forum for the open discussion of sex, gender and feminism. There was a vicious campaign to shut this research network down, led by other academics at the Open University. Professor Selina Todd, a historian at Oxford, was forced to have security in her lectures due to the threats made against her.
These high profile examples are dramatic, and it is noticeable that they often involve those in senior and secure academic positions. One of the motivations for setting up our site was our conviction (and personal experience) that these high profile cases are the tip of the iceberg. For every high profile professor facing a campus campaign there are other academics, professional services staff and students watching and learning the lesson that if you speak up on genderism you will be punished. Our website was an opportunity for these people to have a voice, and we hope here to do justice to their (and our) experiences of being in higher education during the gender wars. Through the extracts below, we explore the pervasiveness of genderism in universities, the impact that the current climate of fear has on individuals, as well as the broader effect on academic research and intellectual debate.
A pervasive ideology: The dominance of genderism in universities
Respondents to the website highlighted how genderism has come to dominate all domains of university life including teaching, research, trade unions, HR policies, students, staff and social media platforms such as Facebook groups and Twitter. Academics teaching on courses which directly engage with feminism or have historically taught critically about sex and gender were acutely affected, with one commenting that “teaching Women and Gender Studies is a nightmare” with only genderism being “the law of the land”, destablising an institution which is “meant to teach and promote independent thought.” Lecturers also reported being “the target of student complaints." One respondent had been threatened with a complaint to university management by a student because “I had referred to sex, and because I included only two sex categories." Another, an Early Career Researcher (less than five years post PhD), was subject to a complaint after teaching about male violence towards women, as this was “exclusionary and alienating to trans and non-binary people." Yet another reported that she had modified the content of her teaching to avoid complaints.
In addition to being subjected to policing behaviour during teaching, there were also stories of students monitoring and reporting staff members’ social media profiles. An undergraduate student wrote that she had:
"witnessed two incidents of students banding together to discuss getting academics fired for tweeting and retweeting unacceptable views. In both cases, the tweets related to a belief in the primacy of biological sex over gender. In both cases, the targets were middle aged women".
Students also reported the difficulties they face working in peer groups that are openly hostile to gender critical beliefs. One student commented that she had only revealed her views to a “select few” fellow students, as “within the first month of … classes, some students announced, unsolicitedly, who they consider "transphobic", a "TERF", an "anti-trans feminist." Another student, a gay man, reported feeling “plunged back into my school days where I was forced to keep aspects of my life, my sexuality, to myself lest I say the wrong thing." The fear of punishment expressed by these students seemed to be warranted, as demonstrated by this poster:
"I was unfriended and blocked by many friends without discussion. Female arts academics and published authors discussed my views openly on FB—branded me a terf and cut me off. The two friends I thought I had from uni are now avoiding me."
Several academics and doctoral students shared stories of being forbidden from recording sex in their research. One described how the whole cohort of psychology students at their university was told “not to ask research participants about their sex, but their gender instead.” Another academic revealed that their “university ethics board has insisted that I cannot ask about sex in my survey research.” Without ethical approval from the university, this respondent would not be able to carry out their research. These examples show how genderism has infiltrated the kinds of research questions which are permitted by universities, and the kinds of data being collected. Some academics explained why this is a problem:
"Not recording sex in research will have very real consequences, especially in regards to male violence against women. It will begin to hide who is doing what to whom, and this in turn will have very real consequences for the provision of services."
"There are physical differences between men and women that can influence how we react to medication, treatment, etc.—the fact that this is being erased should be a big red flag for the scientific community."
These accounts demonstrate the reach of genderism into disciplines which use sex as a variable in research. It was reported that a key tactic being used to coerce researchers into using gender rather than sex was to position research which highlights biological sex as transphobic and hateful. One academic working in Buenos Aries reported how her work came to the attention of “queer ideologists and activists” in 2018 after she delivered a seminar on the Feminist Philosophy of Sexual Difference which resulted in her being “intellectually disqualified” by her colleagues for being “discriminatory and hateful." Another submission spoke of a culture of “silencing” any questions around sex and gender in a research intensive university and research that considered biological sex was either “not important, synonymous with gender or (incredibly) inherently transphobic in itself." A PhD student talked of being discouraged to focus on particular topics such as menstruation as it was “deemed trans-exclusionary."
For one academic, the shutting down of debate and refusal to acknowledge ‘woman’ as an objective category meant they were losing faith with feminist academia:
"How can I respect any researcher or even field of research with claims built on such shaky ontological foundations? It's not just about being kind and inclusive etc, it's about being intellectually honest. The field of research I once loved has become a clown science..."
The stories from the UK also illuminated a growing feeling of mistrust towards the University and College Union (UCU) and whether university staff would be supported if they were deemed to be gender critical. UCU has over 130,000 members and is the main union in the UK that specifically supports university academic staff . This is the organisation to which university staff should be able to turn if facing difficulties or discrimination at work. A perceived lack of support was highlighted in a number of submissions:
"They don't represent me, in fact, UCU actively campaigns against my interests as a female academic.
My union (UCU) offers no support for staff who either feel that biological sex is different to gender identity. or simply want to question whether there might, potentially, in some cases, be a conflict between rights of different groups. My local union branch is even less tolerant of "divergence" from the line. I have seen colleagues bullied, harassed, insulted, physically threatened—and rather than be defended by their union, the union continues with the pile on."
We read stories of active union members being subjected to intensive bullying campaigns against them for holding gender critical beliefs. Terms such as “eugenecist”, “white supremacist”, “Nazi”, “transphobe”, “idiot who doesn’t understand science” (targeted at a scientist), and “TERF” were used to brand anybody who raised questions about gender-identity and transitioning children. One academic talked of her experience as a union member and raising a motion about academic freedom at a union meeting in 2018:
"The last motion I proposed on academic freedom was booed. I was laughed at and told that women had never been protected in law as a sex class anyway so what was I on about... I had never been disrespected and shamed in such a way by academic colleagues before, colleagues who were obviously misinformed and hell-bent on shutting up any discussion, even if it meant lying and humiliating their comrades. I fully understand why other people keep quiet about it. The pressure to conform is like nothing I have ever witnessed. "
Another story highlights the fear that is created by this toxic anti-feminist culture and how people have been compelled to behave in a way that is contradictory to their beliefs:
"The women proposing the motion (on respectful dialogue) were booed and heckled by union branch committee members and by some of the research students in my school. I'm ashamed to say that I voted against the motion because there were other PhD students from my group there and I knew they'd make my life hell if I voted for it. I wish I'd had the courage to at least abstain, but you had to be at the meeting and experience the hostility to understand the pressure."
Faced with this level of hostility, a common source of frustration for respondents was the reluctance of more neutral colleagues to acknowledge that any issue existed with genderism or academic freedom. . Fellow staff members were described by gender critical academics as “indifferent (at best)” and it was highlighted how senior managers did not want to “rock the boat” and challenge the culture “even if they privately agree." Indifference of this kind was seen as enabling a hostile culture—such as the one described in several UCU branches—to flourish.
Finally, the growing trend to declare pronouns in email signatures and other platforms was consistently raised as an example of the pervasive nature of genderism. People talked of being put under “pressure” and the worry of being treated like a “pariah” if they refused to comply. There were numerous submissions that highlighted the considerable anxiety people felt about pronouns in email signatures becoming “mandatory” and being forced to comply. One poster commented that they “don't subscribe to the regressive sexist stereotypes on which the concept of gender is based”, but feared that refusing to “conform to this new orthodoxy… will make me a target."
"I went to a meeting by the student association LGBT+ society for research students [...] Everyone had to say their pronouns and when I said it made me uncomfortable and two large people who I think were men became aggressive. It was clear I wasn't welcome so I didn't go back."
We can see from these examples that genderism pervades the academy, impacting all areas of university life from student relationships to ethics applications. Non-compliance with genderism—whether using sex as a variable, teaching about women’s experiences or radical feminism, or questioning the use of pronouns—are aggressively policed. Even mild deviations from gender identity orthodoxy run this risk of being positioned as hateful or transphobic. This demonising of disagreement is part of the culture of dominance which characterises genderism. Rather than one perspective amongst many being put forward for debate and critique in the academy, genderism is instead presented as incontrovertible truth, and any opposition to it is seen as a moral failing.
“I feel like I’m choking”: The individual impacts of genderism on gender critical people in universities
Respondents describe multiple individual impacts of the pervasive dominance of genderism in universities. A minority of posters described direct impacts of being publicly gender critical. A senior academic, for instance, described how being known to have gender critical views had led to her becoming “the target of student and staff complaints” which made organising events “fraught with tension”, as well as being “frozen out by colleagues at my own university and by professional networks due to my view that male and female are sexes.” This respondent commented that the response of many colleagues seemed to be “embarrassment […] as if I should be ashamed to mention the bullying that's prevented me attending a meeting, or the complaints that threaten an event I've organised.”
This combination of active hostility, threats, and bullying, on one hand, and a more passive, but no less harmful, pattern of silence, ostracization and withdrawal on the other, were commonly described as the consequences of being visibly gender critical. Many respondents reported that the major impact of this stifling climate is an intense fear of being discovered or making their views known:
I genuinely fear that to speak out in favour of those brave women who risk so much to question this toxic and complicated issue, would mean I would be bullied, attacked, lose friends and risk the prospect of a good job and a happy life.
I’ve thought about writing about gender critical feminism online but fear repercussions and future job prospects if I do. So I remain quiet, scared and angry that my rights as a woman are being threatened by gender ideology.
I fear all the time that I will be ousted and then shunned by colleagues—that colleagues wouldn't give me the time of day if they knew I had even some general questions about the TWAW mantra or self-ID.
Many respondents discussed being scared for their jobs and livelihood, as well as fearing social ostracization, threats or complaints. These were not minor annoyances, but intense and pervasive experiences. One submission described the conflict and fear as “unbearable. I have a deep sinking feeling and anxiety when I think about it”; another said she was “overwhelmed with fear that my views will be ‘found out’." Respondents described this fear whatever their position in the university—students were afraid of other students, academics or future employers; academics of students, colleagues or HR. The usual hierarchies of university life do not seem to apply here. As one academic commented:
"We know some students are watching our social media. I feel like a complaint that I make people unsafe is constantly round the corner. I have no wish to make my students uncomfortable or for them to feel alienated … [but] I also don't want to be the target of a complaint for voicing my own truth of what makes me a woman… the stress of feeling that I am always under surveillance is horrible. I can't afford to lose my job."
Several respondents described the shift to working at home and online during the COVID-19 pandemic as “a relief” due to being away from this environment of surveillance and threat. To mitigate against the threat of being perceived to be gender critical, one academic described engaging in self-policing, sometimes to extreme lengths:
"I am terrified of being outed as GC so I have an old phone and a cloaked Twitter on it, that’s it. I have unfollowed every GC account on my regular Twitter because a student of mine was checking who was still following JKR [JK Rowling] and I knew that would be it for me."
Having to “operate underground”, and maintain anonymity was described as stressful and exhausting by multiple contributors. As well as the extreme lengths of using an untraceable phone, usually associated with clandestine activities such as an affair or drug dealing, women described meeting up or talking in secret. As one said: “I have a few GC friends [at work] and before COVID we would talk out of earshot of everyone else.” The lack of visibility of GC views across academia was described as being isolating, especially for those who did not have peers or friends with similar views. The silence around this issue meant that visible agreement, and feminist community, was hard to find. As one PhD student said:
"I feel incredibly isolated at my institution and there is a general environment of women self-censoring out of fear of losing jobs or being attacked. Several of my peers think of me as a bigot for supporting feminist concerns around self-ID, prostitution and surrogacy. I am afraid to express my views openly and constantly in a state of paranoia and self-editing. I have very low expectations for my job prospects in academia after my PhD and fear that there is no room for critical research… It is mentally, physically and emotionally exhausting and constant, mostly because I care deeply about women’s rights and it is agonising to be up against such intense institutional misogyny."
In this account there is a commonly described impact of ‘self-censoring’ and ‘self-editing’ as being ‘exhausting’ and isolating. On top of these stresses of fear, threat, and isolation, respondents also described feelings of guilt and shame, or being “such a coward” for not speaking up openly about their view.
"I also haven't 'come out' as gender critical (which feels far more difficult than coming out as a lesbian). This causes me anxiety and acute guilt because I'm letting other—braver—women fight a backlash that threatens women's rights."
Along with guilt and shame, respondents described feeling that the inability to be open about their views undermined their authenticity and even ontological security—the feeling that the world and themselves are real. One woman reported feeling that they were “squashing my concerns down to the extent I think I will never be myself in academia." Another described intense doubt, constantly questioning: “Is it just me? Am I going mad?." One woman described staying silent because:
"I am afraid of the consequences to my career should I speak up. This is incredibly stifling. Sometimes I feel like I am choking. There is not a single advisor I can turn to."
The punitive culture attached to genderism, which frames anyone who disagrees as morally suspect and in need of social rejection, was described as creating a hostile environment for those with gender critical views. Intense feelings of fear, guilt, shame and doubt were consistently described across the accounts, making it difficult for respondents to function authentically in the university environment. The threat of punishment was clearly understood by respondents with gender critical views, leading to posters hiding their true selves and views in many cases. Remaining invisible also led to feelings of inauthenticity and isolation, exacerbated by the lack of visibility of other people with similar views in the university environment.
Misshaping knowledge: Silences in academic culture, research and learning
Alongside the personal impacts of genderism in universities, the respondents detailed the impacts on academic culture, learning and knowledge production. These impacts were pervasive, described by everyone from students to senior academics, with a compelled agreement that genderism is misshaping academic culture, debate and knowledge.
The first level on which this was specified was debate and discussion, such as during teaching. Several respondents described how this topic—gender or transgenderism—has become treated differently than others. As one lecturer described, in a class on controversies in children’s literature which included discussion of trans representation:
"For many years, students would discuss the subject with interest, seeing both sides of the question. During the last two years there was a shift. The views of the opposing side… were met with horrified gasps from one or two students. The others were then left in silence. One student came to me in tears after the class, saying she was terrified of expressing her views."
We received many comments similarly pointing out that trans issues were given special treatment and seen as particularly untouchable or undebatable. We also, however, received accounts that linked the stifling of debate on trans issues to a wider problem in university culture. This was raised by students, one saying: “I don't feel like I'm at a uni where ideas can be shared and discussed and problems talked about.” Another commented that: “debate is no longer alive within my university. Debate is only allowed for prescribed topics and talking points.”
This culture of adhering to a single viewpoint on gender was also described as extending beyond face-to-face discussion, and being apparent in course content, including dissertation choices and grading. One contributor recalled how she “completed an MA in gender and women's studies. We didn't read any radical feminists, and when they were mentioned it was only to mock them.” Another reported how they had “had students come to me, scared that they are not allowed to discuss certain topics in their dissertations." Those who had pursued topics or arguments which were counter to the genderist position also described punitive responses. For instance one student wrote:
"I received a first for undergraduate degree dissertation. Following that I won the law school award for masters dissertation. Two years ago I completed a post-graduate vocational course. For the extended essay/dissertation, I wrote on the implementation of the Gender Recognition Act 2004 and argued for its repeal. I received the lowest mark that I have ever received for anything that I have ever written. I barely passed. I appealed the grade, arguing bias and got nowhere. Gave up."
Whilst there could be another explanation for this grade discrepancy, the respondent points out the lack of consistency with the reception of their work on other topics. Graduate students also described being warned off gender critical positions. One mentioned that she was told she could not use the word ‘woman’ in her thesis, and her supervisor “fought” her radical feminist thinking throughout her PhD.
A number of respondents discussed the impact of the oppressive culture of conformity to genderism as being so strong that they were leaving academia, had left, or had not pursued a planned career. As one academic commented who had been open about her views:
"I've just left a hostile department in social science. I have been shunned by colleagues throughout my department and my discipline. I have been excluded from so many opportunities. I think I’m done with academia. I have been open and I've paid a price. …I won't give my name here though everyone in my field knows me and knows where I stand. But they are so vicious in their secretive backstabbing and bullying, they avoid scrutiny themselves despite them harassing GC scholars."
Similarly another respondent said:
"I have only one friend in academia who shares my views […] She dreads going back to uni and despite being a gifted lecturer, wants to leave academia as suppressing her views is making her ill. I feel deep disgust for being cast aside so cruelly by people who pride themselves on their academic ability who are incapable of engaging in debate and believe themselves to be morally superior to me. All I see are cruel cowards."
The sense of disappointment in university culture as a place for discussion and free thought echoed through many accounts. One commented that universities were supposed to be “places of critical thinking and reflection” whilst noting “I know of no other sector where this behaviour would be tolerated, let alone encouraged.”
This theme was particularly prevalent amongst PhD students and early career academics, those with least security in the sector. One PhD commented that she “more or less withdrew” from her PhD because of hte “cognitive dissonance of feeling compelled” to be supportive of genderism. This student gave up her teaching role due to this pressure, further damaging her future career prospects. Other students described being put off graduate study entirely, or leaving academia following their PhD, one realising “that my field was not open to input from female people." Not being able see a space for themselves in academia was a common concern, as encapsulated in this experience:
"I am a PhD student in the US, and I am about to leave academia because my advisor, a straight woman caught up in Q-slur theory [Queer Theory, an academic theory important to many genderist academics], told me to my face that homosexuality does not exist, and informed me that she would not approve my dissertation if I persisted in using the term "lesbian" to mean "homosexual female.” I'm a lesbian, aka a homosexual female. I exist. [...] There is no chance of me finishing a PhD here. I have just lost the only career I ever wanted due to genderist homophobia."
Reading these shared experiences we can see that genderism and the accompanying culture of silence and shaming pervades through all the activities of academia, misshaping knowledge production. As gender critical voices are being excluded, or excluding themselves, from the public activities of university life—whether teaching, discussion, publication, or research—an impression of agreement with genderism is also perpetuated. The intense pressure on students and academics to comply ranges from social approbation to impact on academic achievement and progression—marks or thesis examination, access to jobs or promotion. This pressure is clearly more intense for those with less power in the system, whether that be students who rely on academics to mark their work, or PhD students and early career academics who rely on recommendation and networks to help secure an academic career in what is already an intensely competitive field. The number of PhD students who talked about leaving or not starting an academic career is a worrying sign of a lost generation of feminist academics unable to see a place for themselves in the academy.
The accounts shared with us on the Gender Critical Academia Network website paint a powerful picture of a serious situation in universities. Genderism has been allowed to dominate university structures and spaces, positioning any deviation from the tenets of this intellectual and political project as hateful. This is fuelled by a culture of dominance which utilises tactics such as bullying, humiliation and ostracisation to force compliance. The resulting experiences of fear, isolation, guilt and doubt will be familiar to feminist thinkers who have mapped and tracked the impacts of living in relationships and systems characterised by dominance.
The perpetuation of genderism and the coercive culture attached to it depends on silencing and isolating those who disagree. The threats and punishments are real and tangible—including physical violence but also social punishment, a powerful tool in academic circles where networks and relationships are crucial. This phenomenon goes far beyond high profile instances of prominent gender critical academics being ‘no platformed’.. A serious problem exists in universities where debate and viewpoints are being stifled. The silencing is effective and further perpetuates the problem. Self-censorship means that gender critical viewpoints are often invisible, as they have become unspeakable, or at least speaking comes with risks and punishments attached. The current culture of fear and ostracisation is mainly affecting women, and is specifically targetted at feminist ideas. But the ramifications of this silence throughout the whole of university culture are clear, and are misshaping all aspects of university life. In addition, universities are losing graduate students due to the climate of fear, which could have a detrimental effect on the academy for decades to come.
Commentary: Pluralistic ignorance
In Viktor Havel’s ‘Power of the Powerless’ he describes a greengrocer living in a repressive communist state who displays a sign in his shop window: ‘Workers of the World Unite!’ Why does the greengrocer display the sign? Havel argues his display does not necessarily signify authentic support for the sentiment, but instead signals loyalty to the regime in a bid to avoid punishment. In a street, town, or whole society made up of shops all displaying such signs, then each thinks they are the only one who does not really believe, making the regime seem all powerful. As Havel says, these individual people must “live in a lie” and in doing so they “fulfil the system, make the system, are the system." It is perhaps a little dramatic to compare British Higher Education to communist Czechoslovakia, but one thing Havel captures here is the power of casual adherence to ideology in the repression of alternative ideas.
In our experience, genderist ideas are not actively held by most people in higher education. Across the British public as a whole, most people support the right of trans people to live free from discrimination and harrassment, but do not support the genderist idea that self-id is what makes a person a woman or a man. Laura Favaro’s (2022) research on the gender wars in academia found that even amongst gender studies scholars there were many academics who quietly took a middle position she characterised as “I’m not gender critical, but…”, as they often went on to outline concerns with some element of a genderist agenda. One of the powerful mechanisms at work here is the public display of the signs of adherence to genderism in order to avoid punishment, attention or trouble. Adding pronouns to your email signature might seem like no big deal. Changing some wording in a lecture to avoid complaints from students might feel minor. Changing ‘woman’ to ‘people with uteruses’ in course materials might seem a small concession to make in order to keep a colleague onside and avoid tension. Added together, however, these small changes add up to an orthodoxy in the academy where it appears that genderism is widely and strongly endorsed, a sea of greengrocers signs saying that sex does not exist. A psychological term for this situation is “pluralistic ignorance”, where a position actually held by a minority is assumed to be held by the majority. This situation in turn further isolates academics, professional services staff and students who do not agree and who do not consent to “live in the lie” that they support genderism.
The current situation in universities is untenable. There is an urgent need for the illusion of universal agreement with genderism to be dispelled, and for this topic to be treated as an area of legitimate academic debate. There is nothing special about the concept of gender identity which places it uniquely beyond academic critique. Universities have neglected their duties to protect academic freedom in this area, and in many cases have participated in the bullying and ostracisation of gender critical academics and students. We hope that providing this platform for sharing anonymous stories can play a small role in breaking the spell that genderism has cast over the academy. Not everyone has the security or power to be able to speak out as an individual, and face the inevitable backlash. It is the duty of the universities to lead a collective response standing up to this attempt to bully the entire HE sector into silence and compliance.