Assistant editor of Durham Philosophy Journal fired for “transphobic” comments

By Clara Gaspar

The assistant editor of Durham’s Philosophy Society journal, Critique, has been fired for comments related to a retweet on his personal twitter account which were deemed “transphobic”.

Angelos Sofocleous, the recently appointed assistant editor of the journal, was removed from his position after posting a tweet that read: “RT (retweet) if women don’t have penises” linked to an article on the same subject in The Spectator. Angelos then wrote an article in which he defended this position in resigning as President-Elect of Humanists UK.

The Durham University postgraduate student was subsequently sent an email from the President of the Philosophy society notifying him that he had been removed from his position following a vote. The email stated that his comments served to “belittle trans experiences” while leaving “no room for or to promote any fair discussions.”

The tweet also received backlash from Chris Ward, former Chair of LGBT Humanists, for being “horrific” and “transphobic.”

New Editor-in-Chief of Critique Journal, Sebastián Sánchez-Schilling, maintained the Journal’s decision to remove Sofocleous, writing “we won’t be tolerating TERFs or bowing to their pressure.”

TERF is a controversial acronym meaning “trans exclusionary radical feminist” and is a term often interpreted as a slur in feminist debate.

However, Sánchez-Schilling subsequently tweeted: “In response to the hundreds of notifications I have: women can have penises and this is regardless of whether you conceive gender to be based on sex or not, TERF is not a slur, comparisons to Orwell are trite and there is more to philosophy than pedantic debate.”

Sofocleous garnered support from Toby Young, British Journalist and former Director of the New Schools Network , who tweeted Sanchez-Schilling asking: “Shouldn’t you be encouraging debate about important issues rather than stifling it?”

Sofocleous has argued his removal by the society did not follow Durham Students’ Union’s disciplinary policy procedure and that the society was not transparent as to how the decision was reached, nor were members contacted in reaching this decision.

He told Palatinate: “This is also an act of dismissal of free speech, where an individual is punished for making a political statement.

“It is a disgrace that this came from the Philosophy society, a society which should aim to advance freedom of speech and encourage debate on all kinds of issues, especially issues which affect women.”

Defending their decision to remove Sofocleous from the journal, Ryan Lo, President of Durham University Philosophy Society and Sebastián Sánchez-Schilling wrote on Critique’s Facebook page: “Durham University Philosophy Society stands by the policies adopted by the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion team within the Department of Philosophy, therefore we do not tolerate practices of racism, sexism, or trans-exclusionary sentiments.”

Photograph: Maddie Flisher

33 Responses

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  1. Priya
    Sep 12, 2018 - 08:34 PM

    Are you serious? Stating a biological and scientific fact is now considered a violation? What is this the dark ages?
    What a cowardly capitulation to a fringe special interest group.
    Because the editor in chief lacks a back bone as well as intellectual integrity he and people like him do not belong in this department or in Academia at all.
    Students come for education not indoctrination. What a disgraceful example to set. Make no mistake.. this stain on your reputation will not be easily washed away. Intellectual cowardice is not a virtue.
    “Truth is born of debate” – Jean Jacques Rousseau

    Reply
  2. Cangle
    Sep 12, 2018 - 10:55 PM

    Unbelievable. Women do not have penises. This is creeping totalitarianism. This firing serves as a warning to others – curb your Free Speech.

    Reply
  3. Penny White
    Sep 13, 2018 - 12:12 AM

    Women do not have penises. This is a simple biological fact understood by most preschoolers. That a university would go so far as to fire someone for stating a simple fact proves how insane (and elitist) the concept of Gender Identity really is. The sheltered, privileged academic Left is destroying progressive politics. If one were take a poll of working class people, and ask them “Do women have penises?” the VAST majority would either laugh or say “Of course not.” Only small minded children believe their fantasies trump reality and must be legally imposed on reasonable people.

    Reply
  4. nina west
    Sep 13, 2018 - 12:52 AM

    This isn’t a joke and it isn’t unusual. The trans cult are rich and extremely powerful within international and political organisations and pressure groups – often because they fund them. Does anyone seriously believe that women can have a penis – very unlikely but at every turn now we are prevented from saying so. Why? Ask why. Why has this powerful minority group gained so much influence? Why are we not now allowed to talk about pregnant mothers, breastfeeding or biological women? Why are men being allowed into women’s sports teams, prisons, domestic and rape crisis centres? And I mean men -those 80% of so called transwomen who have had and will never have any medical intervention. Those who disagree are labelled haters and fascists and attempts are made to ridicule anyone who takes a scientific line – a well known political tactic. What follows is the complete elimination of women’s rights – if you can’t be defined you can’t have rights. This isn’t the academic left – it’s the men’s rights movement.

    Reply
    • Maureen
      Sep 14, 2018 - 07:09 AM

      Well said Priya. It is cowardice to disregard not only biology but also the vast majority of men and women on the planet, in order to appease a vocal minority. It is an insult to consider people to be transphobes or trans exclusionary simply because they think that women do not have penises. They may be completely tolerant and welcoming of transgender people as individuals, and still have concerns about what biological males’ transformation into women means for women, so long an underclass, and only in the last century achieving some limited equality with men and increasing remuneration in areas such as sport.

      Reply
    • Jennifer
      Sep 14, 2018 - 05:34 PM

      Cult?

      What ARE you talking about. There isn’t any ‘cult’ just normal trans people living their lives.

      How very strange you are.

      This article has appeared on a gender critical anti-trans forum on mumsnet and thus targeted by TERFs – as you can see by the transphobic comments left below.

      Reply
      • Cangle
        Sep 14, 2018 - 06:37 PM

        Nah. Women don’t have penises. No phobia. Just no exceptional rights for men just because they have feelings.

        You can have your cis and trans ideas. Now intact, hetero males are advocating for teens to block puberty and for depressed, often autistic girls with histories of child abuse now preyed upon by profiteers who are cutting off healthy breast tissue for zero medical reasons.

        That, and the trans who are raping female prisoners in women’s prisons in UK and USA.

        Not transphobic. Don’t want males in women’s and children’s SEX segregated spaces.

        Get over it.

        Reply
      • Jess
        Sep 14, 2018 - 08:26 PM

        But women don’t have penises. They don’t. Full stop. If a baby is born with a penis then it is a male. The damage being done to womens rights by men who want the benefits of being women without the negative aspects is, at best unbelievable, and at worst setting women’s rights back by hundreds of years.

        Reply
      • Maria MacLachlan
        Sep 15, 2018 - 12:52 PM

        The term “trans cult” is even used by those trans folk themselves who disagree with transgender ideology. See Miranda Yardley, for example.

        No, unfortunately, it is no longer “just normal trans people living their lives”. Those unfortunate individuals are being badly hurt by a bullying trans activist movement who will go to unbelievable lengths to try and silence anyone who dares to stick their head above the parapet and challenge the absurdities of transgender ideology – one of those absurdities being that ‘some women have penises’. No woman has a penis!

        Angelos is one victim of the trans cult and I am another.

        Please refrain from using the term ‘terf’ which is a derogatory label used to dismiss and dehumanise women. There are no ‘terfs’, there are only ordinary people who have the courage to speak out against trans cult bullies.

        Reply
  5. Virginia Brooks
    Sep 13, 2018 - 01:07 AM

    It’s complete and utter garbage like this that leads to people voting in leaders like Donald Trump. WOMEN DONT HAVE PENISES. Saying it louder for those in the back .

    Reply
    • Jeanne
      Sep 13, 2018 - 01:28 AM

      “The people” didn’t vote in Donald Trump. The Electoral College did. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote.

      If a candidate who interested me was on my side for lots of important issues (including women’s rights) but was genderist, I would still vote for them because being a single-issue voter is stupid. I would just assume they are ill-informed, as genderists generally are. That is a curable condition. Hillary Clinton may be pro trans rights (so am I, as long as they don’t conflict with women’s rights) but she’s never called me a TERF, never told me to die in a fire, never told me to “s**k” her “girl-c*ck,” or any number of other unpleasant behaviors that trans rights advocates have been guilty of. THAT kind of crap will lose my vote, though, for sure.

      Reply
  6. Matt Osborne
    Sep 13, 2018 - 01:57 AM

    I for one am absolutely enthusiastic for the new totalitarian order. You lesbians were being so selfish by keeping my penis out of your hot, hot girl-on-girl scenes! Now I can just “identify” as a lesbian-with-a-penis and you bitches HAVE to let me in, or you are bigots and bad things will happen to you.

    BONUS: Since biological sex no longer exists, I can’t possibly be accused of sex-based oppression anymore, can I?

    Reply
  7. Becky Lavelle
    Sep 13, 2018 - 10:08 AM

    Freedom of speech ≠ freedom from the consequences of expressing hateful views.

    And surely it’s up to the Philosophy Society to decide with whom they share their platform?

    Some women have penises; it’s a scientific fact. I encourage readers to go and study some journals before talking out of your ass, for the sake of intellectual discussion.

    Reply
    • Susan Siens
      Sep 14, 2018 - 03:30 PM

      A scientific fact? You made my day — I’m laughing so hard I almost fell off my chair! I love bringing science into the discussion of basic biology; just saying something is scientific fact doesn’t make it so. Homo sapiens sapiens is a dimorphic species, in other words we are female or male (except for a tiny percentage of people who are intersex). I want you to visit my woods and tell the squirrels, the porcupines, the raccoons, the birds, the deer, the mink, and all the other mammals that their biology does not exist, that some of their female population actually have penises! This is what happens when people are so immersed in a human-created world and so divorced from the actual world (the one that will be here, more or less, when our species and all our creations are dust).

      Reply
      • Cangle
        Sep 14, 2018 - 04:05 PM

        Thank you, Susan. I had the same response. None of these idealogists popped out of a wiener hole. Yet.

        Lmao.

        The whole world is watching the latest episode of The Tranny Emperors New Clothes.

        I’m sick of this Inquisition of males silencing and harassing people who know biology. Blacks Legal Dictionary works in US courts, I’ll stick with them.

        Woman is adult human female. The bepenised blokes in lippy are sex liars.

        Reply
  8. An evil TERF
    Sep 13, 2018 - 11:45 AM

    Women do not have penises. Deal with it. If your only response to someone stating a biological fact is to fire them, you have issues

    Reply
  9. Cangle
    Sep 13, 2018 - 12:56 PM

    There’s quite the stir at some UK Goldsmith campus now, with a transgender advocating their members name “terf” faculty in student secret online group, all of the professors so-labeled are women who dare to know biology.

    The rich, white male sex rights movement 1%’ers can’t make me conform to their twisted cis world.

    Women don’t have penises.

    I hope this fired journalist finds better outlets for exposing truth.

    Reply
  10. Artemix
    Sep 13, 2018 - 01:30 PM

    Seems like, contrary to their policy, they do tolerate sexism. PArt of the anti free speech left.

    Reply
  11. Howard Fuller
    Sep 13, 2018 - 09:36 PM

    Trans-censorship strikes again. These testosterone fuelled outrages are a MALE demand. Women don’t have penises. Only dicks think they do.

    Reply
    • Maureen
      Sep 14, 2018 - 07:10 AM

      Well said Priya. It is cowardice to disregard not only biology but also the vast majority of men and women on the planet, in order to appease a vocal minority. It is an insult to consider people to be transphobes or trans exclusionary simply because they think that women do not have penises. They may be completely tolerant and welcoming of transgender people as individuals, and still have concerns about what biological males’ transformation into women means for women, so long an underclass, and only in the last century achieving some limited equality with men and increasing remuneration in areas such as sport.

      Reply
  12. Phil
    Sep 14, 2018 - 01:14 AM

    His removal is a total disgrace. Durham is now suffering the same fate as the Canadian universities: the social sciences and humanities have been invaded by marxist activists that seek to defame and silence anyone who utters any speech that threatens their radical ideology and safe spaces.

    Women do not have penises. This is a fact and not a matter of opinion. The fact that I am even being required to reiterate an obvious truth is both absurd and ridiculous.

    Durham University’s student union has already blocked a student from starting a men’s issues group and now this? The men’s issues debacle was disastrous enough.

    What kind of a university is this? I would advise that all sensible students who are looking to gain a real education in a scholarly setting that supports freedom of speech, thought and debate to either revolt, or to look for another instituion that takes scientific enquiry and open debate seriously.

    Freedom of thought, free speech, conversion and scientific enquiry are the underpinnings of the Enlightenment and are worth defending with energy and vigour. Do not be intimidated or silenced by the neo Marxist radical left. Stand up with your back straight and face the world.

    As a prospective employer of graduates, I would definitely favour Sanchez-Schilling over any other student taking an opposite view. My advice to Sandhez-Schilling: don’t cave. Nothing you’ve said as reported in this article is transphobic or otherwise. Keep your head up and lead the fight against this corrosive force that has been invading and corroding our institutions of higher learning.

    Reply
    • Phil
      Sep 14, 2018 - 01:20 AM

      Correction: my support goes to Sofocleous, NOT Sanchez-Schilling.

      Reply
  13. Brian Morris
    Sep 14, 2018 - 09:14 AM

    Of course women don’t penises. Men cannot become women, no matter how many puberty blockers they are now being given as children (which is outrageous child abuse and Lupron is a drug known to have many negative side effects including cancer and arthritis), how many hormones they take later, or full top and bottom surgeries. Children are being encouraged to have mastectomies as soon as possible, being informed that they can replace them at a later date if they change their minds. There is an upsurge in children identifying as trans, or being identified as such. This is now the new ‘solution’ to adolescent problems and mental health issues. Approximately 30% of people who are trans, have autism and vary many more have other mental heath issues. This does not make anyone transgender.

    There are a small percentage of transwomen who are genuine and have gender dysphoria and sadly, they are referred to as ‘truscum’ by many in the trans community. Some of the genuine individuals are very vocal in their incredibly brave support for women’s rights and state that they should not be accessing women’s spaces, but should be allowed to have additional spaces that are gender-neutral. This is the best solution as everyone should be able to access safe spaces that retain their privacy and dignity. Women should not have to give way to men claiming to be women. An additional factor here is that facilities should never be gender-neutral as this is even more dangerous. 90% of all attacks in toilets, take place in gender-neutral facilities. Privacy, dignity and safety are incredibly important to everyone.

    Men should not be able to access women and girl’s safe single-sex spaces such as communal changing rooms, toilets, rape crisis centres and refuges, hospital and psychiatric wards, prisons etc. There are currently 125 men in women’s prisons, 48% of whom committed sexual offences. This is a higher percentage than the figures for the general male prison population.

    The majority of transwomen are AGP (autogynaphiles) who are turned on by anything that is considered traditionally female, such as buying a pair of tights or attending a knitting circle at the W.I. Being turned on by a pair of tights, liking pink dresses and playing with toys that are considered traditionally female, do not determine that a male is actually a female. There are two sexes, male and female, with a tiny fraction of people having an intersex condition that is not a third sex. Gender is different and is not innate. Gender can be anything that you ‘feel’ or want to be and there are around 74 genders currently that are officially recognised, with some websites listing over 250. This has nothing to do with biological sex, which is fixed. If a male has always been drawn to items and a lifestyle that is considered traditionally feminine, this just makes him a feminine male who may or may not be gay. The reverse is true for transmen. The idea that girls have to like pink, dolls, sparkly things and cookery, boys liking blue, contact sports, action-hero suits and working as a lumberjack is ridiculous stereotyping and has harmed and restricted us all for centuries.

    Transwomen who are attracted to women claim to be lesbians. They are actually heterosexual men with a fetish. These men are vocal in their views about actual lesbians, who in the main, do not with to have a relationship with them. Lesbians are attracted to women and not men. Interestingly, the trans-lesbians (as they claim to be) do not date each other. This is revealing as it underlines the point again, that they are hetero men.

    The CEO of the Girl Guides has decided to allow boys (teenagers and very hormonal) who claim to be girls, to share tents overnight and communal showers, with girls. The Girl Guide Leaders who are very unhappy about this, are not allowed to inform parents that their daughter will be sharing a tent with a boy. This policy is deeply disturbing and dangerous.

    Between 80% and 95% of transwomen do not have any hormones or surgery, the lower figure referring to boob jobs and the upper figure referring to how many retain their male genitals. This is why there should be no self-identification allowed when the government changes the Gender Recognition Act soon (feel free to submit your opinions via the link below). An organisation called Fair Play For Women has guidance notes on-line for completing the form.

    Gender Recognition Act consultation closing 19th October: https://consult.education.gov.uk/government-equalities-office/reform-of-the-gender-recognition-act/consultation/intro/

    Reply
  14. Jenny G
    Sep 14, 2018 - 10:20 AM

    This is an absolute travesty – dismissing a person for stating a biological reality! It’s particularly ironic given that Western philosophy started with a bunch of philosophers arguing and participating in healthy debate. Aristotle would be ashamed.

    I can’t believe the world we’re living in, where ‘wrongthink’ gets punished by IMMEDIATE sacking but when a be-penised individual such as Jess Bradley gets their penis out AT WORK the investigation is ‘still ongoing’ and no disciplinary procedure has been invoked.

    Reply
    • Susan Siens
      Sep 14, 2018 - 09:20 PM

      As someone else pointed out, saying women don’t have penises = hate speech, but calling for the rape and murder of radical feminists = free speech. That sums it all up and the sum = transgenderism, men’s rights activism in heels and lipstick.

      Reply
  15. nemo
    Sep 14, 2018 - 12:40 PM

    And so the “pile on” begins.

    I can’t say I have s strong option either way on the original issue, but it’s instructive to note the reaction.

    Reply
    • Billybob
      Sep 15, 2018 - 01:57 AM

      The reaction being ‘it’s correct that women don’t have penises’ and ‘it’s concerning that someone would be treated as a bigot for stating such a simple fact’?

      Reply
    • Alan Henness
      Sep 15, 2018 - 01:27 PM

      Pile on? What pile on? Reasonable people here have been reiterating biological fact. ‘Pile-on’ implies to me personal abuse and dismissing arguments.

      Now, do you have any arguments to refute anything said here?

      Reply
      • nemo
        Sep 17, 2018 - 10:33 AM

        As I say, I have no strong opinion on the original issue because it is a complex one taking in a whole array of factors (some obviously biological, others less obviously non-biological), and I have no personal interest or stake in it..

        But just look at the length the length and tone of the discussion thread on this story compared to pretty much every other story on this site. The length and the vehemence pretty much reinforces my opinion.

        Reply
        • Cangle
          Sep 17, 2018 - 06:19 PM

          Nah. Truth is simple.

          Women don’t have penises.

          Removing healthy breast tissue of adolescent females without a medical reason is child abuse.

          Reply
        • Billybob
          Sep 18, 2018 - 11:17 AM

          The vehemence is because the ability to speak the truth is very important.

          What’s that line from 1984? “Freedom means being able to say two plus two equals four”. (Probably got that a bit mangled)

          Reply
          • Susan Siens
            Sep 18, 2018 - 04:43 PM

            But what does two plus two equal in postmodern theory? Are there a thousand answers to two plus two? If you IDENTIFY as a thief, can you say that two plus two equals two when you are given a bill for that dinner you just consumed?

  16. Tom Cruise
    Sep 15, 2018 - 01:54 AM

    Perhaps Durham’s biology department should be closed down. When studying there, I was once told there are sex-based differences in genitalia. I wish I had the guts to stand up and argue with the lecturer when this event occurred. Inside I was screaming “YOU ARE VERY WRONG!! THAT IS HATE SPEECH!!!”, but to my shame I remained silent. Now it’s time to face up to the hate masquerading as so-called ‘scientific fact’.

    Reply

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