A British university professor has resigned after having a “horrible time” fending off accusations from transgender activists.
Kathleen Stock, a philosophy professor at the University of Sussex, announced on Thursday her decision to leave despite having the support of the university’s leadership.
Stock has been at odds with some transgender activists since 2018 when she said trans women shouldn’t be in spaces such as female dress rooms “in a completely unrestricted way” because many of them “are still males with male genitalia” and “are sexually attracted to females.”
Earlier this month, an anonymous group of activists launched a campaign, demanding the University to fire Stock.
In a string of comments written on Twitter, Stock said she was sad to leave the University of Sussex, which defended the rights to have “legally held beliefs.”
“This has been a very difficult few years, but the leadership’s approach more recently has been admirable and decent. I hope that other institutions in similar situations can learn from this,” she wrote.
The feminist professor said it had been “an absolutely horrible time” for her and her family, and that she’s putting it behind her and hopefully moving “on to brighter things soon.”
Adam Tickell, vice-chancellor of the University of Sussex, said the university had hoped Stock “would feel able to return to work,” and would have supported her if she decided to do so, but “respect and understand” her decision to leave.
In an open letter to all university staff, Tickell said the right to exercise academic freedom and lawful freedom of speech free from bullying and harassment of any kind “apply to and benefit us all, and we will defend them today and in the future.”
“I would like to make it very clear that it is unlawful to discriminate against someone on the grounds of sex and of philosophical belief. Her departure is a loss to us all,” the letter reads.
Michelle Donelan, minister of state for higher and further education, said it was “a sad day for freedom of speech” as the “toxic environment” at the university had “made it untenable” for Stock to stay.
“No academic should ever have to fear for their personal safety,” she wrote on Twitter.
Donelan called for other universities to step up and offer Stock a job and said her resignation is another reason why British lawmakers should pass a bill that protects freedom of speech in universities.
On Oct. 12, Stock’s former union, the University and College Union Sussex, wrote a letter to its members calling for “a clear and strong stance against transphobia”—a letter Stock said “effectively ended” her career at the University of Sussex.