First trial against a British university for allowing the harassment of trans activists


Correspondent in London

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‘TERF’, acronym for “radical feminist who excludes trans people” is one of the most common insults that those who defend that the biological sex of people is real and «not an illusion», and that it has to be differentiated from «felt gender» have to put up with. The most mediatic example of the extreme harassment to which those who express their opinions in this sense are subjected and defend that being a woman is more than a feeling and therefore public spaces differentiated by sex are necessary, is the renowned writer JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter saga, but there are other cases, some even in British universities, that show the fierce debate between radical feminists and those who defend ‘queer theory’, among other groups.

It is the case of Raquel Rosario Sanchez, a Dominican doctoral student residing in the United Kingdom and spokesperson for the feminist organization FiLiA (known for organizing one of the largest annual feminist conferences in Europe), who has denounced the University of Bristol, where she is studying her doctorate, for «allow bullying and intimidation against me by their trans activist students,” he explained in conversation with ABC. “My academic specialty deals with end violence against girls and women, and my doctoral work focuses on the study of online communities for men who pay for sex.

The defamation campaign, she explains, “began in 2018 when I acted as a facilitator of a feminist event on the proposal to reform the Gender Recognition Act”, the Gender Recognition Law that allows people with gender dysphoria to change their legal gender. . That’s when the harassment and threats began, both online and in person, which “have been so serious that they have had a negative impact on my studies,” he says, and the university “instead of sanctioning my harassers, since They dismissed my complaints He has sanctioned me for lowering my academic performance».

The trial, which begins this Monday and will run until February 14, represents, in the words of Rosario-Sánchez, 32, “the first time that a case on the discussion of sex / gender in a university reaches the courts” in the United Kingdom and denounces that «it is extremely important to bear in mind that my legal case is on sex discrimination and neglect, no discrimination based on critical gender beliefs. We are arguing that all this happened to me because I am a woman, not because of my beliefs”, since university policies, which according to her are similar in other educational centers, “They prioritize the rights of the trans collective over those of women” and because “the majority of people who suffer this intimidation by trans activists are women.”

In this sense, the young woman confirmed some information published in the local press in which she ensures that, for example, “at the university, the exclusive spaces for women, such as the gym or the pool bathrooms, can be used by anyone. that she identifies as a woman, regardless of whether she physically has male genitalia”, which is a clear “violation of the Equality law that contemplates spaces differentiated by sex”. Furthermore, Bristol is a university that has been criticized for its controversial positions, such as consider the word “motherhood” to be “problematic”, which also in some hospitals, such as the university hospitals in Brighton and Sussex, has been directly erased from the language of the staff. When this doctoral student pointed out that “only a biological woman can give birth” she was classified as transphobic and the university forced her to apologize.

A spokesperson for the University of Bristol, in response to ABC’s request for comment, stated that “Mrs. Rosario Sánchez has chosen to take legal action against the University. Given this, we will not comment further,” adding that “all concerns about harassment or bullying are taken seriously, and action is taken in accordance with our university policies. If staff or students have concerns or complaints, we encourage them to bring them to our attention directly.” According to this source, “we are committed to making our University a place where all people feel safe, welcome and respected, regardless of their gender, race, sexual orientation, disability or social status.” The complainant, however, says that what she wants “with this lawsuit is clarity in legal terms about whether protection policies apply to women, to feminists».

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