Kathleen Stock is a Brave Woman


Bravery come in so many forms, but one of its most important is when someone with the pertinant knowledge and training stands up against a seemingly overwhelming social trend in the public square. In 2021, one of those brave souls is Professor Kathleen Stock of the UK.

If you've never heard of her, you can become acquainted by reading a statement she penned for publication in the DailyMail today. Much like J.K. Rowling, Stock is not opposed to laws banning discrimination against those with atypical gender identity. What she is opposed to is allowing gender identity to replace biological sex where such would lead to increased vulnerability for biological women, such as in sports, restrooms, locker rooms, domestic violence and homeless shelters, female prisons, etc., or for impaired access through sex-targeted scholarships and quotas. She is also opposed to hormones and surgery to effect gender reassignment for minors. In addition, she objects to gender identity replacing sex in data collection efforts. Stock received an OBE (Order of the British Empire) for her work.

Of course, in making these objection, she has been the target of relentless attacks. As a result of being awarded, 600 persons, primarily philosophers (her field), have written a letter of objection. Last year, when she was invited to be a keynote speaker for a meeting of the Royal Institute of Philosophy, 5000 people asked the organizers to rescind the invitation, (Happily, it was not.) Ironically, Stock is also possessed of an atypical sexual orientation: she is lesbian.

Indeed, it is lesbians who, in the UK, have been on the front lines standing firm against gender identity eclipsing biological sex. One example is the organization, "Get the L Out," but there are many other organizations in the UK, such as the Women's Human Rights Campaign, which has issued a Declaration on Women's Sex-Based Rights. Many have taken to posting signs and wearing T-shirts with a definition from the Oxford dictionary: "Woman: Adult human female." Indeed, UK feminists are much further ahead than their US counterparts in raising these issues. Recently, the UK judicial system ruled against the Tavistock Clinic--the primary provider of hormones and surgery to gender-confused children--mandating that these not be provided to minors under 16 at all, and in the case of 16 and 17 year olds, requiring judicial consent first to ensure fully informed consent.

US feminists are beginning to follow suit, though it may be too late. The US subunit of the Women's Human Rights Campaign has drafted a proposed "Equality for All Act" that seeks to preserve women's sex-based rights while also ensuring transsexuals do not face discrimination. Since President-elect Joe Biden has vowed to pass the Equality Act, which does not preserve women's sex-based rights, this is going to be a hard sell in Congress, where there is a competing Fairness for All Act, as well.

For what it's worth, it seems to me that both gender identity and biological sex matter. I think Stock is completely right. While making sure no one with atypical gender identities is discriminated against, we must not betray women, who have fought so long and so hard for what protections they currently have. I oppose any such betrayal; for example, I have refused to shop at Target since the day they opened women's dressing rooms to anyone who identifies as a woman. I have yet to understand how this invasion of female-only spaces is not but another form of patriarchal colonization that we women have struggled against from time immemorial.

Brava, Professor Kathleen Stock! Thank you for your courage. I look forward to reading your forthcoming book, Material Girls: Why Reality Matters for Feminism.