Disruption at 'transphobic' social theorist's talk

FULL ARTICLE

By Ed Southgate, co-Editor in Chief

A prominent social theorist accused of transphobia was protested last night at her talk which coincided with a Transgender Remembrance Day vigil.

Five students marched into a Queen's Building lecture theatre before Dr. Helen Brunskell-Evans, who had been invited by Bristol Free Speech Society, could begin her talk. One read out a list of names of those who had been killed, often violently, this year for being transgender, before six security guards escorted them out.

At the same time, Bristol SU were hosting a Transgender Remembrance Day Vigil to remember those who had lost their lives in the past year. This included a minute's silence, a selection of short speeches and poetry, and a candle lit at the front.

Izzy Posen, President of the Free Speech Society, insisted they were unaware of this until one day before the event, and apologised for any upset. 'We are aware that this coincidence may have caused hurt for members of the transgender community and we are sorry for that. It is never our intention to cause hurt or offence', he said.

A number of high-profile individuals branded trans-exclusionary radical feminists (TERFs) were in the audience, including Posie Parker. In a video, Parker can be heard saying 'for f* cks's sake' when the vigil was mentioned, insisting she would continue talking over them when the list of deceased people were read out.

One of the students disrupting the talk, Luke Tyers, told Epigram: 'We were just upset as a group of people from the trans community, and [one of the students] was desperate to just go there and read out that list of names.

"A lot of energy is being used up by these people to create the idea that being transgender is a mental illness" - Luke Tyers

'The reason we were there is that a lot of energy is being used up by these people to create the idea that being transgender is a mental illness, and the speaker of this event was kicked out of the Women's Equality Party for comparing transgender women to children who pretend they are astronauts.

'There is a particular focus from these groups on women who are transgender in particular, and very little mention of men who are transgender beause apparently they view it as two completely separate phenomena.'

Dr. Brunskell-Evans covered academic freedom, how research funding is dominated by politics, and her opposition to the 'transgendering of minors'. The group are said to have been invited by the President of Free Speech Society to join the event and challenge her during question time at the end.

'There was some nice questions from the audience, with people challenging her views and offering different opinions' - Izzy Posen, Bristol Free Speech Society

Bristol Free Speech society has so far hosted two gender-critical academics who have been accussed of transphobia. The students who disrupted yesterday's event believe this is a protest to the motion passed through Bristo SU last year to ban TERFs from speaking on campus.

Izzy Posen said this 'has never been an explicit motivation'.

Of the event, he said: 'There was some nice questions from the audience, with people challenging her views and offering different opinions. Everyone in attendance was extremely respectful and compassionate.

'Overall the event was a huge success, showing once again that with good will we can talk respectfully about difficult topics, whilst empathising with those whose lives are affected on a day to day basis by these issues. Ultimately, as long as we come from a place of empathy and discussion, we are really not on opposing sides of the argument. We all have the same goal. We just disagree on what's the best way to get there.'


Were you at the event? Let us know what you think...

AUTHOR

Ed Southgate

former co-Editor in Chief 2018-2019 | former Editor of Epigram Comment 2017-2018 | UoB English student 2016-19 | Twitter: @ed_southgate