Response to gender statements in Rishi Sunak’s conference speech

LGBT progress pride flag road painting near the Students Union and Hazlerigg and Rutland buildings

Dear Colleagues and Students,

You may be aware that Rishi Sunak made transphobic comments in his speech to the Tory conference on Wednesday, stating “we shouldn’t get bullied into believing that people can be any sex they want to be. They can’t. A man is a man and a woman is a woman. That’s just common sense.” As an academic community we recognise that the Appeal to Common Sense is a logical fallacy employed in desperation when an assertion cannot be properly defended.

As the committees for Loughborough UCU branch UCU, and the Staff LGBT+ Network, we would like to make absolutely clear that we condemn the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak’s comments. We recognise that gender is a complex, multi-dimensional aspect of everyone’s identity, and is unique to each of us. To characterise the experience of being transgender as “being any sex [you] want” is a deliberate over-simplification. As is the suggestion that this group are “bullying” the majority.  These comments lead to the polarisation of views which risk escalating tensions that result in increasing division and pitting groups against each other.  This goes against Equity, Diversity and inclusion Values and the Public Sector Duty to Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation and other conduct prohibited by the Act; Advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not and Foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.

If you are interested in learning more about the complexity and nuance of gender identity, we recommend the LGBT Awareness course available through Organisational Development and presented by LUCU Treasurer and LGBT+ Network Trans and Non-binary Lead, David Wilson, as well as their post on the University’s LGBT Blog Trans visibility as an act of resistance.