Feminist author Germaine Greer has delivered a lecture at Cardiff University, despite receiving abuse from students for her view that men who undergo a sex change are not women.
Greer was invited to give a lecture on women’s rights, but last month some students started a petition saying her views had “no place in feminism” and called for the event to be cancelled.
The author, who originally said she would not attend, spoke to a packed audience of 450 people on Wednesday night, where she re-stated her view and received support for her stance and her right to free speech.
According to Wales Online, Greer said she had not intended to address the issue of transsexualism again but was forced to reiterate her stance after being challenged by a member of the audience.
She said she doesn’t usually talk about transsexuals because it’s not her issue and added:
“But I will say what I think and what many others think too. I don’t accept transgender males, even those who are post-operative, as women.”
I’m so glad that someone is saying what we think. We don’t think that post-operative male transsexuals are women but we are not allowed to say so
The author described how five women had approached her as she travelled to Cardiff to say: “I’m so glad that someone is saying what we think. We don’t think that post-operative male transsexuals are women but we are not allowed to say so”.
She added: “I will say so because I don’t believe they are women. That’s not tantamount to calling them names. I also happen to believe that the surgery is unethical.”
The event sparked a show of support for Greer’s right to free speech and open debate in universities as well as criticism of the students who had tried to silence her.
Speaking at the event, PhD student Rebecca Newby told Wales Online: “You can be engaged in debate without trying to shut it down.”
People took to social media site Twitter to show their support for Greer:
@guardian Of course she should attend the lecture,uni’s are meant to be a space for open & honest debate to challenge ideas, including hers.
— r_munn (@Binnenpretje1) November 18, 2015
Last month, Greer faced abuse from students for comments she made during an interview with the BBC.
She told the broadcaster that when men have a sex change operation it “doesn’t make them a woman” and said she has “been accused of inciting violence against transsexual people”, which she described as “absolute nonsense”.
Following the backlash Simon Kelner, former Editor of The Independent, Hugo Rifkind, a columnist for The Times, and Zoe Williams of The Guardian, all expressed disappointment that Greer was pressurised by staff and students at Cardiff University into not giving an address.