Germaine Greer has responded directly to a group of students trying to ban the prominent feminist from delivering a lecture at Cardiff University with an inflammatory statement confirming her stance on transgender issues.
The Female Eunuch author declined to appear on the Victoria Derbyshire show on Monday, instead giving the BBC a statement which read: "Just because you lop off your d*** and then wear a dress, doesn't make you a f*****g woman. I've asked my doctor to give me long ears and liver spots and I'm going to wear a brown coat but that won't turn me into a f*****g cocker spaniel."
She continued: "I do understand that some people are born intersex and they deserve support in coming to terms with their gender but it's not the same thing. A man who gets his d*** chopped off is actually inflicting an extraordinary act of violence on himself."
Greer's lecture, which was titled 'Women & Power: The Lessons of the 20th Century’, will be going ahead on November 18 as planned, The Huffington Post UK can reveal.
Greer's statement to the BBC
The petition, which now has more than 2,300 supporters, hopes to pressure the university into cancelling the event.
Rachael Melhuish, the university's student women's officer who launched the petition, said: "Greer has demonstrated time and time again her misogynistic views towards trans women, including continually mis-gendering trans women and denying the existence of transphobia altogether.
"Trans-exclusionary views should have no place in feminism or society. Such attitudes contribute to the high levels of stigma, hatred and violence towards trans people - particularly trans women - both in the UK and across the world."
The Change.org petition
Speaking to BBC Newsnight in an interview on Friday, Greer said: "I'm not saying people should not be allowed to go through that procedure.
"I'm saying it does not make them a woman. It happens to be an opinion. It's not a prohibition. Carry on if that's what you think it is you want to do."
Unsurprisingly, Greer's comments have not gone down well.
@sherrifflucy Her response is vile. Free speech and different opinions should be encouraged at unis but that's bordering on hate speech
— Rachel (@OpenMindMH) October 26, 2015
— Dean M-Thomson (@DeanMThomson) October 26, 2015
Even Edward Snowden has weighed in, however he defended Greer's right to deliver the lecture.
An individual trying to limit speech at universities is interested in neither university nor justice. https://t.co/JHNEbIAfa3
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) October 13, 2015
Trans feminist activist Payton Quinn, who previously blogged on HuffPost UK about the petition, , said Greer had been given "every opportunity" to apologise.
"She [could have shown] solidarity towards her trans sisters yet she has chosen instead to spout more hateful rhetoric.
"Her continual dehumanisation of transwomen, trans people in general, is attributing to a culture than excuses violence against us, denies us access to medical care, drives many of us to mental illness and even suicide.
"Her comments are outdated, cruel and goes against everything she has fought for. Feminism is for all women and transwomen are women who don't need further marginalisation from what should be a group fighting for their rights too."
But Emma Flowers, a writer and transwoman, contacted HuffPost UK to defend Greer's right to speak, saying: "Although the comments have caused me much distress personally, I do not believe she should be banned from airing her views.
"I am a huge advocate of free speech. It is far better to win through reasoned argument and medical fact, rather fuel to ignorance by giving up the moral high ground.
"People like Ms Greer, who hold way more ability to sway public opinion than I, should be mindful of this, and be prepared to answer to their own consciences if their comments result in hatred and hurt."
Professor Colin Riordan, vice-chancellor of Cardiff University, told HuffPost UK: “We are committed to freedom of speech and open debate.
“Our events include speakers with a range of views, all of which are rigorously challenged and debated. This event will be no different.
“Our commitment to our LGBT+ students and staff members is unwavering and we fully recognise the tremendous benefits having such a diverse community brings to Cardiff University.
“At Cardiff University we work hard to provide a positive and welcoming space for LGBT+ people and we are in consultation with student and staff groups to ensure that the views of LGBT+ people are represented at our events.
“We in no way condone discriminatory comments of any kind.”
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The Huffington Post UK has contacted Germaine Greer but has yet to receive a response.
Useful websites and helplines:
- Beaumont Society is a national self help body run by and for the transgender community | 01582 412220
- The Gender Trust supports anyone affected by gender identity | 01527 894 838
- Mermaids offers information, support, friendship and shared experiences for young people with gender identity issues | 0208 1234819
- LGBT Youth Scotland is the largest youth and community-based organisation for LGBT people in Scotland. Text 07786 202 370
- Gires provides information for trans people, their families and professionals who care for them | 01372 801554
- Depend provides support, advice and information for anyone who knows, or is related to, a transsexual person in the UK.