In the latest episode of this shameful debacle, last week the university informed Freedman and Phoenix that it plans to publish their personal data that had previously been redacted. The two academics told me that, according to the university, they made transgender and nonbinary staff and students feel physically unsafe. Why? For simply holding the views that sex is immutable and that spaces like prisons should remain segregated according to biological sex.
This is part of an ongoing pattern of behaviour from many universities across the UK and elsewhere. Feminist and human rights academic experts are routinely hounded, cancelled and even blacklisted. They deal with calls to have them fired from their jobs and face Kafkaesque trials based on pernicious and spurious complaints to their employers. They are told that they make students and staff terrified as a result of their mere presence on campus. And while the University of Essex appeared to be taking these issues seriously, what has happened to Freedman and Phoenix shows how much power the trans lobby has when it comes to academic institutions. The VC has done a U-turn and appears to have caved to pressure.