achievements

This isn’t a win for freedom of speech, it’s a loss for our trans community

Read our response to the University-commissioned Reindorf Review.

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We stand with our trans and non-binary members who are hurting right now. 

This week, as you’ll no doubt be aware, the University published the Reindorf Review – a report into the circumstances surrounding two events on campus in 2019 and 2020 respectively.  

You may have heard that this is a win for freedom of speech. You will hear that academic freedom has triumphed over the woke Universities. That is misdirection. The issue at hand is whether discussing or challenging the fundamental human rights of a group or person should be classed as legitimate academic discussion.  

At the University of Essex Students’ Union we are very clear - Trans rights are Human rights. We are not debating some far-flung concept or theory, we are talking about people we know, people we love – people who deserve non-negotiable rights.   

Freedom of speech is something that we at the Students’ Union hold dear. We support the right to protest and to have counter-speech and for views that might be deemed unpopular to be debated. Speaker invites should be assessed on a case-by-case basis but, within this, there must be due regard to equality, inclusion and any potential harm that may be caused to our student communities. 

In this instance we know that Trans students felt marginalised by the prospect of having their fundamental human rights discussed on a campus where they live, that they call home. 

The University has apologised to both professors for infringement of their freedom of speech. What they have failed to do is apologise to the trans community in any meaningful way. We demand they issue a full and open apology to the Trans community for the hurt that was inflicted.  

The timing of this report, a day after the International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia, and mere weeks before Pride Month shows a further disregard for the trans community. We can’t call Essex inclusive while in the same breath causing minority groups harm. 

Freedom of speech is imperative to a free society. But this isn’t a win for Freedom of speech. It’s a loss for the trans community and their fundamental human rights. Rights that we will continue to fight for. 

Signed: 

Molly Purcell
President 

Mark Kiley
Vice President (Education) 

Vinnosh Kumar
Vice President (Welfare) 

Adrian Tejan-Jalloh
Vice President (Community & Engagement) 

Ria Buachie
Vice President (Southend) 

Olivia Matthews
Vice President (Student Experience) 

Alex Ilie
Vice President (International) 

Kyle Jerro
Chair, University of Essex LGBTQ Staff Forum