Professor at centre of transgender row asks bookshop to 'show some mettle' and display her work

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Kathleen Stock - Andrew Crowley
Kathleen Stock - Andrew Crowley

A professor at the centre of a row with transgender activists has urged bookshop managers to "show some mettle" and display her work.

Prof Kathleen Stock spoke out after she was told that a member of staff at a Waterstones shop did not want to have her book, Material Girls: Why Reality Matters for Feminism, displayed too prominently.

"Any chance that bookshop managers could start showing some mettle by putting my reasonable and warmly-reviewed book... on display in bookshops?" Prof Stock wrote on Twitter.

The Sussex University professor has faced calls from students to be removed from her post amid accusations of "transphobia". Last week, students erected posters around campus, calling on the university to fire her.

Prof Stock, an expert in analytic philosophy, recently published a book questioning the idea that gender identity is more "socially significant" than biological sex.

She has also previously questioned the idea that men who feel like women should have automatic access to women-only facilities such as changing rooms, or be allowed to appear on women-only shortlists or sports teams. She denies claims that she is a transphobe.

Her book, published earlier this year, questions the idea that gender identity is more "socially significant" than biological sex.

'My book is literally nowhere in sight'

Julie Bindel, the veteran feminist, echoed Prof Stock’s concern about bookshops failing to display her latest work titled, Feminism for Women.

"I've checked in five separate Waterstones around London if my book is where it should be, in alphabetical order/new hardback section, etc, and it is literally nowhere in sight," she wrote on Twitter.

"But when I asked if they have it in stock, they all said 'yes', and got it from the back. What a disgrace."

Bindel’s latest work is described by Waterstones as a "robust and powerfully argued primer" for anyone interested in the current state of feminism.

A group calling itself "Anti-Terf Sussex" has described Prof Stock online as "one of this wretched island’s most prominent transphobes, espousing a bastardised variation of radical feminism".

Sussex University - Anti Terf Sussex
Sussex University - Anti Terf Sussex

Terf, which stands for trans exclusionary radical feminist, is generally used as a derogatory term to describe those who believe that "identifying" as a woman is not the same as being born a woman. It can also be used to refer to people who are deemed to hold "transphobic" views.

Prof Stock, who has received death threats from pro-transgender activists, has been advised by the police to have CCTV installed at her front door and put a marker on her phone so that if she dials 999 there is an automatic call-out to her house.

She said she felt "vulnerable", adding that the police implied she would need security guards to accompany her around the university campus.

'Dissent, disagreement and debate are fundamental to any democratic society'

Michelle Donelan, the universities minister, has said it is "unacceptable" that Prof Stock is having to be supported by the police following threats to her physical safety.

"Dissent, disagreement, debate and peaceful protest are fundamental to any democratic society," Ms Donelan said on Twitter. "Physical intimidation or threats against those with different views is always unacceptable and action must be taken against the perpetrators."

A University of Sussex spokesman said they were "extremely concerned" that a member of the staff was being harassed, adding that they had taken "immediate action" in response.

They added: "As a university community, we must be able to have complex discussions without bullying or harassment. We will always take swift action when this occurs."

Waterstones said that both Bindel's and Prof Stock's books are being treated "like any other".

A spokesman said that their books are "available in many Waterstones shops and at, with stockholding reflecting current demand".

They added: "Some individual shops will have sold out, as is always the case with individual titles. They are then reordered, with newly arrived stock unpacked in the stock rooms and subsequently shelved when booksellers have the opportunity. Shelves and tables are independently curated by booksellers in each of our bookshops.

"With all the new autumn publishing arriving in our shops table display space is limited, with most titles being shelved in the appropriate sections. In short, both books are being treated as any other, with higher or lower sales in each shop according to customer interest."

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