UK Professor Forced to Resign by Transgender Activists Joins New US University

By Alexander Zhang
Alexander Zhang
Alexander Zhang
November 9, 2021 Updated: November 9, 2021

A British academic who was forced to resign after being harassed by transgender activists has now joined a newly-launched U.S. university dedicated to the “fearless pursuit of truth.”

Kathleen Stock, a philosophy professor at the University of Sussex, announced on Oct. 28 her decision to leave the university after having a “horrible time” fending off accusations from transgender activists.

On Nov. 8, Stock said she had accepted an invitation to join the newly founded University of Austin (UATX), a new institution in Texas set up by a group of intellectuals who have faced hostility for expressing their ideas.

“Delighted to be invited to be a Founding Faculty Fellow of the University of Austin,” she wrote on Twitter. “I accepted with alacrity. It’s an exciting looking project, focused on free inquiry.”

She later clarified that it is not a full-time role and she is not moving to Texas. Instead, she said she will be “just getting involved in various ways from a UK base.”

UATX founding President Pano Kanelos said he set up the new institution to renew the purpose of higher education, as many universities no longer have an incentive to create an environment where “intellectual dissent is protected and fashionable opinions are scrutinized.”

Referring to incidents like Stock’s resignation, he wrote: “We had thought such censoriousness was possible only under oppressive regimes in distant lands. But it turns out that fear can become endemic in a free society.

“It can become most acute in the one place—the university—that is supposed to defend ‘the right to think the unthinkable, discuss the unmentionable, and challenge the unchallengeable.’”

In a call to action, Kanelos encouraged those who share the feeling that “something fundamental is broken” in higher education to join the effort. “We welcome all who share our mission to pursue a truly liberating education—and hope that other founders follow our example,” he said.

The new venture has already attracted journalists, scholars, business leaders, and public intellectuals including Niall Ferguson, Bari Weiss, Heather Heying, Joe Lonsdale, Arthur Brooks, Peter Boghossian, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

According to the launch website, the institution does not yet offer degrees and it is in the process of securing land in the Austin area for a campus.

Stock has been at odds with some transgender activists since 2018 when she said trans women shouldn’t be in spaces such as female-only dressing rooms “in a completely unrestricted way” because many of them “are still males with male genitalia” and “are sexually attracted to females.”

Last month, an anonymous group of activists launched a campaign, demanding the university fire Stock.

In a BBC interview after her resignation, Stock described the impact of the targeted campaign as “some sort of surreal, terrible anxiety dream.”

Lily Zhou and GQ Pan contributed to this report.