Oxford LGBTQ+ Campaign has published a letter in response to the news that the University of Oxford has given £20,000 in consultancy fees to Woman’s Place UK. The LGBTQ+ Campaign described this organisation as a “group we believe to have contributed to a growing climate of transphobia in the UK.”
The letter provided a history of Oxford’s prior involvement with WPUK: “many of us remember that, in the winter of 2019, the university was content to rent a room in the Examination Schools to them, despite their members’ well-documented record of speaking out against trans people’s right to self-definition, and their existing rights under the Gender Recognition and Equality Acts.”
The letter went on to state that “we believe that the University’s involvement with WPUK demonstrates that it neither cares for nor respects its trans students.”
When contacted by Cherwell, the University responded that it “aims to create an inclusive trans-friendly culture, workplace and learning environment, free from discrimination, harassment or victimisation, where all transgender people are treated with dignity and respect.”
They further acknowledged they were aware of the payment, and that “it is not unusual for research groups across the University to work with a wide range of external groups to support their research, and the allocation of such funding is regulated and scrutinised.” The University also stated an intention to respond in more detail in the New Year.
Within the LGBTQ+ Campaign’s letter, they addressed the “university’s public commitment to supporting trans students and to upholding its duty to keep itself free from anything which would create an “intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment” for trans students” describing this as “an aim which we do not feel is compatible with the hosting of WPUK events, let alone providing them with funding.”
The letter further outlines the university has neglected “to follow the advice or answer the request of its own students, many of whom devote substantial time and energy to engaging with the university only to be consistently rebuffed’ and that ‘pro-trans activists are ignored by the university administration.”
Woman’s Place UK received £20,000 as payment for consultancy work to support research into University of Oxford’s project Women and Equalities Law: Historical Perspectives on Present Issues. To read more about the project itself, please see this article.
The letter was co-signed by 28 other campaigns, groups including Oxford University LGBTQ+ Society and Oxford Feminist Society, and student representatives across 15 colleges.