On Wednesday 13th September 2017, an external discussion titled ‘What is the meaning of gender? The Gender Recognition Act and Beyond’ was due to be hosted at The New Cross Learning Centre.
Whilst the event was marketed as a ‘discussion’, two of the invited guest speakers Julia Long and Miranda Yardley hold the belief that trans women are not women, (see tweets from Yardley here and a report in the Huffington Post on Julia Long’s comments made on Channel 4 news here). The speakers also have a further history of making comments denying the experience of trans people.
For this reason, a large number of Goldsmiths students and alumni - including members of the Goldsmiths LGBTQ+ Society - expressed concern, fear and disappointment that such an event would take place in the area, at a major community centre.
In response, on Tuesday 12th September 2017, elected Full Time Officers at Goldsmiths Student Union called The New Cross Learning Centre, explaining the concerns of students. Full Time Officers explained that the event made Goldsmiths trans students feel unsafe, and asked the Centre to therefore cancel the event. The Centre explained that they had booked their space for the event, but did not organise it themselves. They did not agree to cancel the event.
The elected Full Time Officers then called the organiser of the event, Venice Allan, before meeting with three of the event organisers (including Allan) to discuss the matter in person. Once again, the Union expressed the overwhelming number of student fears and concerns, explaining how the event was wrongly putting trans identities up for a one sided discussion, and asked for the event to be cancelled. The event organisers thanked the Union for the discussion, but said that they would go ahead with the event the following day.
Since this discussion, New Cross Learning Centre announced a cancellation of the event due to health and safety reasons. We are happy that an event of this nature will no longer be held in the area.
Goldsmiths Students’ Union stands with concerned students, and believe that the proposed event was not set up to be a balanced discussion, but instead a platform for transphobic ideas. We do not believe that trans and nonbinary people should have the validation of their identity put up for public discussion, or undermined in any way.
We do not agree that the backlash this event received was a case of no-platforming, but a refusal to debate the validity of trans people’s identity and existence. Whilst Goldsmiths Students’ Union strives for a community of progressive and inclusive discussion, we are also an advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, and will never support the undermining of a person’s gender identity.
Eva Crossan Jory - President
Taylor McGraa - Education Officer
JT - Campaign and Activities Office
Tara - Welfare and Diversity Officer
Caitlin King - LGBTQ+ Officer
Jessica Hazzard - LGBTQ+ Officer