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Who is Kathleen Stock? Profile of Montrose-born professor whose trans views court controversy

Photo by Ken McKay/ITV/Shutterstock.
Photo by Ken McKay/ITV/Shutterstock.

Feminist Kathleen Stock’s views on gender identity have caused controversy and debate.

The Scottish professor was criticised for her views on gender identity after telling a transgender caller they are “genetically male” during a heated on-air radio debate.

But who is Professor Stock, what is her background and why are her views causing outrage?

Prof. Stock caused controversy.

Kathleen Stock, 49, is a professor of Philosophy who was born in Aberdeen.

Academic life began in Montrose

Her academic life began in Montrose where she grew up, attending Montrose Academy before going on to study at university.

As an undergraduate, she read French and philosophy at Exeter College, Oxford, followed by an MA at St Andrews University.

She then won a scholarship for a philosophy PhD at Leeds University.

Photo by Ken McKay/ITV/Shutterstock.

Following her graduation, she taught at universities in Lancaster and East Anglia, before joining the University of Sussex in 2003, where she was a professor of philosophy.

After resigning from the post in October this year, she accepted a role at the University of Austin.

Gender identity vs biological sex

Prof Stock’s work has both supporters and detractors because of her controversial views on gender identity.

She has drawn criticism from academics and rights activists for these views which represent one side of a polarised argument.

Many believe someone’s gender identity – that is whether they identify as a man or a woman, regardless of their biological sex- should always take precedence in single-sex services, sports and spaces.

Others, including Prof Stock, believe biological sex cannot be altogether replaced by gender identity.

Letters of complaint

Prof Stock was awarded an OBE in 2021 for service to higher education.

But hundreds of academics signed an open letter criticising the decision, condemning academics “who use their status to further gender oppression”.

Prof Stock then resigned from the University of Sussex.

What does Prof Stock say?

Prof Stock believes biological sex is a fact of nature.

She claims it cannot be voided by someone’s belief they are another gender.

In her book Material Girls: Why Reality Matters For Feminism, she argues this point.

This belief that people cannot change their biological sex sparked protests at the University of Sussex’s campus in Brighton, which led to her resignation.

Prof Stock’s views court controversy.

Students put up posters and graffiti calling for her to be dismissed.

At the time, she issued a statement on Twitter revealing her sadness at the decision but praising the University for their support.

In November, she was interviewed by Lorraine Kelly in a debate on free speech where the television presenter disagreed with her views.

Asked on the programme if she knew people would not like her views, Prof Stock said: “Yes and I’m sorry about that, I am.

“But I just think there’s more at stake than people feeling offended. Because there are some really important issues about women and children and gay people we’ve just got to talk about.”

What do others say?

In a recent debate Robin White, Employment and Discrimination Barrister, disagreed with Prof Stock.

Robin, who became the first barrister in practise to transition from male to female at the discrimination Bar, says trans women are women.

She says: “Biological essentialism – the idea that only chromosomes matter – fails at every practical hurdle.”

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