Trans activists interrupt controversial Kathleen Stock talk as one person 'glues themselves to floor'

30 May 2023, 18:04 | Updated: 31 May 2023, 00:36

Protests in Oxford
Protests in Oxford. Picture: LBC/Twitter/@rizpossnett

By Chris Samuel

A trans activist glued themselves to the floor of the Oxford Union as a talk by gender-critical feminist Kathleen Stock was interrupted by protesters.

Two protesters emerged from the audience waving rainbow flags and throwing leaflets before they were drowned out by shouting from the crowd and pulled out by security.

Another protester, wearing a t-shirt saying "no more dead trans kids", glued themselves to the floor of the debating chamber in front of Prof Stock.

An audience member addressed them, shouting, "we are here to listen" to [Prof Stock] whether you "like it or not".

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Several audience members then began shouting for the professor to "carry on" in spite of the protester.

Protests over Kathleen Stock take place at Oxford University

Four police officers spent around 10 minutes trying to remove one protester who had glued themselves to the floor while security walked up and down the hall and demanded that audience members not record or take pictures of the incident.

Police have confirmed the protester was arrested then de-arrested.

Prof Stock left her job at the University of Sussex in 2021 after protests against her by students following the release of her book Material Girls, which argues that trans people cannot expect all the rights afforded by biological sex.

The university's LGBTQ+ Society, which organised the protest, had called the event part of campaign of hate against trans people.

But Prof stock rejects the accusation that her views could be classed as hate speech.

"It's not hate speech to say that males cannot be women," she said.

"You can believe what you like, and I'm not stopping anybody believing any different, but it's certainly not hate speech to say that and that's basically the most controversial thing, I think."

Prof Stock as she arrived for the talk on Tuesday evening
Prof Stock as she arrived for the talk on Tuesday evening. Picture: Getty

Speaking at the rally, Max Van Kleek, associate professor of human-computer interaction at Oxford, said trans students suffered "so much abuse" and were "losing rights around the world".

Outside the venue, Alexandra, a teacher who is trans, said it "hurt" that students were "debating on questions like whether my fundamental rights are worth protecting".

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Prof Stock had only been speaking for around five minutes before the disruption began.

Her talk was paused for around half an hour before continuing.

After the talk resumed, Prof Stock said that those you think that trans people are not violent ""should speak to a criminologist".

The talk at the Oxford Union was met with impassioned protests
The talk at the Oxford Union was met with impassioned protests. Picture: Alamy

Arguing that trans women who were born male shouldn't be allowed to access female-only spaces, she said: "In changing rooms where women are, we are supposed to do stuff (to protect them) and when we took males out as we did before, it was on the assumption that some males are predators.

"We are not doing that as a society. We are supposed to care about women. It is a risk of a man saying he is a woman and going into a space and taking advantage of that".

Pressed on whether trans women represented a similar risk to biological men, she said that "if you think trans people aren't violent, you need to talk to some criminologists".

Prof Stock said trans women entering female-only spaces was "not fair on females", asking: "Why should females take this burden on?"

Taking audience questions after the protester was removed by police, Prof Stock said she "didn't mind" the protest, and that it "wasn't traumatic for me".

Protesters gathered outside event
Protesters gathered outside event. Picture: Getty

"But generally what I find more worrying is when institutions have listened to the protesters (...) and then basically become propaganda machines for a particular point of view," she added.

Ahead of planned protests Prime Minister Rishi Sunak backed the decision to invite her to speak, telling the Telegraph: “University should be an environment where debate is supported, not stifled. We mustn’t allow a small but vocal few to shut down discussion.

He added: "Kathleen Stock’s invitation to the Oxford Union should stand.”

While the university's vice chancellor, Professor Irene Tracey, said Prof Stock's appearance is a matter of "freedom of speech".

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