30 May 2023

Protesters storm Kathleen Stock talk at Oxford Union

30 May 2023

LGBT+ activists stormed a talk with feminist Kathleen Stock at the Oxford Union before one of them glued themselves to the floor on Tuesday.

Hundreds of chanting protesters marched towards the 200-year old debating society where they blared music including Nancy Sinatra’s These Boots Are Made For Walking as Prof Stock arrived.

Professor Stock spoke for around 10 minutes before three protesters emerged from the audience of the packed hall, shouting: “No more dead trans kids”.

One of them, Riz Possnett, glued themselves to the floor as security guards rushed to remove the others and audience members booed the protesters, shouting for Prof Stock to “carry on”.

One audience member addressed the protester, who wore a t-shirt saying “no more dead trans kids”, shouting, “we are here to listen” whether you “like it or not”.

Shortly later, four police officers removed Riz and escorted them out of the building to cheers from the audience.

The interruption, which lasted for around half an hour, was later dismissed by Prof Stock, who said: “It wasn’t traumatic for me”.

In a series of tweets after they were removed, Riz, an Oxford University student who has appeared on GB News, described Prof Stock’s beliefs as “dangerous and hateful”.

“Kathleen Stock is not welcome here. Terfs (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists) are not welcome here,” they said.

“We will resist hatred, and we will fight for trans rights”.

The altercation came after the Oxford Union LGBTQ+ Society’s president Amiad Haran Diman, which organised the rally outside, promised that the society would not try to “shut down” the event.

Speaking after the protesters were pulled out of the hall, Prof Stock said: “I actually don’t mind that protest. It wasn’t traumatic for me.

“Generally what I find more worrying is that when institutions have listened to the protesters and (…) then basically become propaganda machines for a particular point of view and everyone else feels they can’t say what they want to say.

“That’s happening, I’m afraid, in lots of workplaces and universities”.

Prof Stock went on to challenge calls for trans-women to access female toilets and changing rooms, arguing that some of them could “take advantage”.

She said it is “not fair on females”, asking: “Why should females take this burden on?”

When pressed by the union’s president, Matthew Dick, on whether trans women posed a similar risk to men, she cited statistics by the Ministry of Justice which showed that “at least 50%” of those in prison are there for sexual assault, adding: “That’s a higher rate than the average male.”

“I hate to be the one to tell you this sort of thing because the people outside totally misunderstand what I’m saying but somebody has to say it,” she said.

And when questioned on whether trans people were less likely to attack women because they suffer from “huge amounts of violence” themselves, Prof Stock hit back: “I’m afraid it doesn’t follow that people who are subjected to violence aren’t violent, I think you need to talk to some criminologists.”

She added: “If we do not talk about reality then we go wrong.

“You can go about your life pretending for a while but reality will hit you in the face.”

Days before Prof Stock’s talk, a group of Oxford University academics and staff signed a letter supporting the right of transgender students to speak out against her.

The BBC reported that the open letter, shared on Saturday by the university’s LGBTQ+ society and signed by 100 academics and staff, said: “We believe that trans students should not be made to debate their existence.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak intervened to support the talk, writing in the Telegraph newspaper that debate was a hallmark of a “tolerant society”.

Before the debate, the university’s vice-chancellor, Professor Irene Tracey defended the philosopher’s appearance as a matter of “freedom of speech”.

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox