New Edinburgh rector in ‘transphobic’ Twitter row
THE new Rector of Edinburgh University has been accused of transphobia, after tweeting about a meeting to discuss changes to the Gender Recognition Act (GRA).
The university newspaper Student and Edinburgh University Students Association condemned the message, claiming the organisations behind the event were hate groups.
Edinburgh University said Ann Henderson, who officially became rector on October 6, was acting in a personal capacity, and it had “zero tolerance towards transphobia”.
But these comments have led to a backlash, disputing that Ms Henderson’s actions were transphobic and warning of “Mccarthyism”.
Ms Henderson, a long-standing feminist campaigner retweeted the date and time of a drop-in meeting in Westminster this Tuesday titled “How will changes to the GRA affect women’s rights?” It urged women to contact their MP asking them to attend. The meeting is promoted by the organisation A Woman’s Place UK, and supported by the groups Fair Play For Women and Transgender Trend, but Edinburgh Student accused all three of transphobia.
The Sabbatical Team at Edinburgh University Students Association (EUSA) said transphobic flyers had been distributed on campus and added: “After raising the issue of these materials and organisations with the Rector in a recent meeting, we are shocked the Rector continues to support these organisations on Twitter. As a representative for staff and students, the Rector’s actions are unacceptable.”
A spokesperson for the University of Edinburgh initially said the Rector had posted the links in a personal capacity and said it did not tolerate transphobia. However pressed on what part of Ms Henderson’s tweet was viewed as transphobic, in a new statement the University said: “We have received informal complaints about Ann Henderson’s recent activity on twitter; we have also received expressions of support for her.
“We strongly believe both in the freedom of speech and a zero tolerance policy towards transphobia. We will continue to give this current set of allegations careful consideration.”
Herald columnist and former Edinburgh Rector Iain Macwhirter said the university should have stood up for Ms Henderson: “It should defend freedom of speech on campus and disown this smear,” he said.
Ms Henderson was unavailable to comment.
Ann Henderson has been accused of backing transphobia.