Response to transphobic statements in Rishi Sunak’s conference speech

Response to transphobic statements in Rishi Sunak’s conference speech

Colleagues and Students,

You may be aware that Rishi Sunak made transphobic comments in his speech to the Tory conference this week, stating “we shouldn’t get bullied into believing that people can be any sex they want to be. They can’t.  A man is a man and a woman is a woman. That’s just common sense.”  As an academic community we recognise that the Appeal to Common Sense is a logical fallacy employed in desperation when an assertion cannot be properly defended.

As the committees for Loughborough UCU branch, and the Staff LGBT+ Network, we would like to make absolutely clear that we condemn Rishi Sunak’s comments.  We recognise that gender is a complex, multi-dimensional aspect of everyone’s identity, and is unique to each of us.  To characterise the experience of being transgender as “being any sex [you] want” is a deliberate over-simplification and mis-representation designed to scapegoat a marginalised community for populist appeal. As is the suggestion that this group are “bullying” the majority.  And while anti-trans sentiments are often portrayed as defending women, they are in fact propping up patriarchy and the disempowerment of women, by emphasising the idea that men and women are fundamentally and radically different.  We support members and non-members of any gender identity; everyone is part of our community.  We are also committed to playing a key role in shaping and delivering the University’s EDI agenda, which includes recognition, respect and support for all individuals in their gender identity. 

If you are interested in learning more about the complexity and nuance of gender identity, we recommend the LGBT Awareness course available through Organisational Development and presented by LUCU Treasurer and LGBT+ Network Trans and Non-binary Lead, David Wilson, as well as their post on the University’s LGBT Blog Trans visibility as an act of resistance.

In solidarity

Loughborough UCU Committee

LGBT+ Staff Network Committee

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