A prestigious women-only college at the University of Cambridge has announced that men will now be allowed to apply if they ‘identify’ as women.
Murray Edwards College, whose alumni include Sue Perkins, Claudia Winkelman and Tilda Swinton, will now consider any student who “at the point of application identifies as a woman”.
In the past, the college required all applicants to be “legally defined as female”.
The change was made after a motion on transsexualism was passed by the college council – a group of academics and teaching fellows.
A statement published after the vote said that the council had “sympathy with the idea that gender is not binary” and that “narrow gender identities” are damaging society.
The move was criticised by leading educationalist Dr Joanna Williams, who said it marked the end of “women-only spaces”.
Dr Williams said: “This college was set up several decades ago when things were very different for female students”.
Imposition on women
“If some women want to have a women-only space, if they choose to be there, they should have every right to do that.
“To then learn that you’re sharing your dormitory, your bathroom with someone who is biologically male is an infringement on your right to choose the right… educational environment”.
The radical feminist Germaine Greer, who lectured at Newham College Cambridge, also hit out at the change, describing it as “ridiculous”.
Greer said having a transsexual person in an all-female environment is “difficult”.
Earlier this year, students at the University of Sussex were told not to use the terms ‘he’ or ‘she’, in case their transsexual peers were offended.
A ‘gender inclusive’ language policy by the University of Sussex Students’ Union (USSU) states that “the gender-neutral pronoun ‘they’ should be used as opposed to ‘he’ or ‘she’”, where an individual has not expressly stated their preferred pronoun.
And in December 2016, The Sunday Times reported that University of Oxford students and staff are now required to use the gender neutral pronouns ‘zie’ or ‘ey’ instead of ‘he’ or ‘she’ when referring to transsexual people.
The behaviour guidelines state that “deliberately using the wrong name or pronoun in relation to a transgender person” may amount to harassment. This could result in disciplinary action, including dismissal for staff members, or an expulsion for students.
Dr Peterson, a Canadian academic, said that “UK universities should resist this”, warning that whole disciplines of study had already been irretrievably given over to such ideologies.