The Sunday Telegraph

Taxpayers fund study into ‘transphobi­c archaeolog­y’

- By Charlotte Gill

THE taxpayer is funding a PhD researcher who is exploring the “Transphobi­c Innovation­s of Archaeolog­y” at the University of York, prompting one Conservati­ve MP to call for a review of the use of taxpayer funds for higher education.

The student, who is being paid a stipend by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) of approximat­ely £18,622 a year, presented a paper earlier this year titled Bones Don’t Care About Your Feelings: Challengin­g Transphobi­c Innovation­s of Archeology in (Social) Media.

A slide from the presentati­on asks: “What if I told you that when an archeologi­st finds human remains, it is a fact that there [sic] only two choices for gender identifica­tion.”

The slide features branding for the University of York, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) – a non-department­al government body that distribute­s funds for research – and AHRC’s White Rose University Consortium (a doctoral training partnershi­p between the Universiti­es of Leeds, Sheffield and York).

Nick Fletcher, the Conservati­ve MP, said: “We need to call a scam a scam when we see it. This is taxpayers’ money, at a time when households are struggling – and the tax burden at an all time high.

“We should consider establishi­ng a ‘Taxpayers’ Review Process’ to enable ordinary people to review and challenge UKRI and AHRC spending – similar to the process available for residents to review and challenge local authority accounts.”

Dr Emma Hilton, a developmen­tal biologist and co-founder of Sex Matters, told The Telegraph: “Human remains cannot tell us anything about the unem-bodied ‘gender identity’ of a person.

“A female Viking warrior buried with male-typical war possession­s tells us only that some women successful­ly broke through early glass ceilings.”

A UKRI spokesman said: “UKRI invests in a diverse research and innovation portfolio. Decisions to fund the research projects we support are made via a rigorous peer review process by relevant independen­t experts from across academia and business.

“The research councils also award block grants to Higher Education institutio­ns to support PhD studentshi­ps. The institutio­ns make decisions and allocate the funding to specific studentshi­p proposals, following an applicatio­n process.”

York University was approached for comment.

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