The woke revolution eats its own, yet again. This time, it’s happening in the halls of one of the world’s oldest and most esteemed universities. The University of Cambridge is home to a vast library of literary treasures — from ancient Sumerian texts to rare editions of Shakespearian poetry. It now also stewards a university student union-published guide that teaches students how to identify trans-exclusionary radical feminists (TERFs).
As defined by the guide, TERFs hold “a conservative, binary, essentialist conception of sex as the be-all-end-all, and a deep hatred for trans women, couched in the language of feminism and feminist theory” and that “there should be no room for transphobia or TERFs in feminist organizing.”
The document, which has been labeled a “witch-finder’s charter” by Cambridge Professor James Orr, was released just days after Professor of Philosophy Kathleen Stock from University of Sussex was targeted by protests and campaigns led by a group of non-binary, trans, and queer students.
The anonymous group launched a protest and accompanying social media campaign to rally for her dismissal, triggering a flood of online threats and abuse toward Stock. The protest stemmed from outrage over her feminist position that has been labeled “transphobic,” including a statement of concern for the safety of women in the U.K., where “genitally-intact male trans women who self-declare as ‘women’ already have access to some women-only spaces: prisons, hostel dormitories, sleeper carriages, changing rooms.”
University officials have come to Stock’s defense and advocated for rights to free speech, but she has stated that she feels uncertain of her future and safety. As she reported to The Times, “[The police] have advised me to have cameras on my front door. They have given me advice about moving around. They have put a marker on my phone, if I phone 999 there is an automatic call-out to my house.”
Professor Stock has now joined the ranks of other so-called TERFs, such as J. K. Rowling, and most recently, Margaret Atwood. While these women do not self-identify as TERFs, a section from the Cambridge guide titled “Spotting TERFs in the Field” points out, “Most TERFs don’t call themselves TERFs”, ironically paralleling “misgendered” trans people who don’t call themselves as some people refer to them.
The guide further explains, “TERFs will refer to issue of trans people in bathrooms or changing rooms as being about ‘predators’ and co-opt the language of sexual violence to refer to trans people existing in public spaces.”
Philosophy of Religion Professor James Orr has drawn a comparison between Cambridge’s “How to Spot TERF Ideology” and a guide for hunting witches:
This is an extremely sinister development, and it is effectively incentivizing behavior among students that is wholly opposed to the flourishing of any serious intellectual culture. These are perfectly plausible and defensible positions to hold. Not immoral and not even close to being unlawful and should be able to be expressed freely, especially if you think they are wrong. How long before people wake up to this crisis?