As you might know, for several years I worked at The Open University, also based in Milton Keynes. In the past week there’s been a disappointing development with the launch of the (yawn) ‘gender critical research network’, making life very difficult for the trans people working and studying there. You can very quickly walk through a mental checklist of very bad things and find that the network is guilty of all of them. The network sprang out of nowhere; various members of the OU’s staff work at the intersection of health, wellbeing and gender, and none of them seem to have been consulted. The people who form the network tend to be those who work in nearby (at best) disciplines. Their research so far seems to be simply putting out transphobic communications and, well, you’ve used the phrase ‘gender critical’ in the name of your network, lads. Kinda gives the game away.
There’s been a great deal of pushback from staff, students and alumni. Of course, the reaction is one of hiding behind misguided ideas of ‘academic freedom’, a thorny topic which has its place, but elsewhere. The whole thing has a very strong I’m just asking questions