The University of Oxford has taken a stand for freedom of expression by resisting calls by pro-transsexual activists to “no platform” Dame Jenni Murray.
The Radio 4 broadcaster was invited by the Oxford Literary Festival to speak on feminism and women’s history at the Sheldonian Theatre this week.
However, members of the Oxford University LGBTQ Society, alongside two other student groups, attempted to have her removed because she stated men could not become women.
In an article for The Sunday Times last month, Dame Jenni wrote: “Your sex, male or female, is what you’re born with”.
She accused transsexual lobbyists of ‘hijacking language’ by attempting to rename breast cancer and breastfeeding to “chest cancer” and “feeding”.
Her concerns also included who had “the right to be included in gatherings or organisations that are defined as single sex”.
At the time, she was blasted by LGBT lobby group Stonewall, which said transsexualism was about “an innate sense of self” and to say otherwise was “reductive and hurtful”.
Dame Jenni spoke as planned at the event, which protestors attended with banners.
The Sunday Times reported that before the talk she reiterated her support for the protection and respect of transsexual people, before adding: “It saddens me that those of us dubbed ‘cis’ women … are not accorded the same respect.”
The University of Oxford said that while it was committed to supporting transgender students and staff, it was also “committed to freedom of expression”.
The LGBTQ Society said before the event that they were “deeply disappointed” by Oxford Literary Festival’s decision to host Dame Jenni and called on the festival to “publicly condemn, if not entirely remove, her”.
They also said that allowing the Woman’s Hour presenter to speak ‘normalised’ transphobia.