After years of polarisation, there seemed to be some progress towards balancing the views of trans activists and gender-critical feminists. Now rhetoric is escalating again
I would like to suggest that the response to last week’s protests against philosophy professor Kathleen Stock at the University of Sussex could mark a turning point in the argument over women’s and trans rights that has become one of the most contentious political topics. After activists put up posters calling for her to be fired, and displayed a “Stock Out” sign on campus, the university’s vice-chancellor was among the prominent voices who spoke out in her defence.
But although this is tempting, especially to a gender-critical feminist like me who shares Stock’s perspective, it would be foolish. That’s because the gap dividing the protesters’ views from those of leading politicians is not very large. This might sound over-the-top. Neither Keir Starmer nor any other leader has called for women to be sacked because they don’t share trans activists’ objectives, such as the law reform known as self-ID, which enables people to change their legal sex without a medical diagnosis.
Susanna Rustin is a Guardian leader writer