Before one of them adhered themselves to the floor on Tuesday, LGBT+ activists barged into a conversation with feminist Kathleen Stock at the Oxford Union.
As Professor Stock approached the 200-year-old debating society, hundreds of chanting demonstrators marched there while playing music, including These Boots Are Made For Walking by Nancy Sinatra.
Prof. Stock talked for around 10 minutes before three protesters yelling “No more dead trans kids” emerged from the crowded room’s audience.
Riz Possnett stuck to the ground while security personnel hurried to remove the others as spectators booed the protestors, yelling for Prof. Stock to “carry on.”
One audience member addressed the protester, who wore a t-shirt saying “no more dead trans kids”, shouting, “we are here to listen” whether you “like it or not”.
Soon after, to applause from the audience, four police officers removed Riz and led them out of the structure.
The interruption, which lasted for around half an hour, was later dismissed by Prof Stock, who said: “It wasn’t traumatic for me”.
In a series of tweets after they were removed, Riz, an Oxford University student who has appeared on GB News, described Prof Stock’s beliefs as “dangerous and hateful”.
“Kathleen Stock is not welcome here. Terfs (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists) are not welcome here,” they said.
“We will resist hatred, and we will fight for trans rights”.
Amiad Haran Diman, president of the Oxford Union LGBTQ+ Society, which organized the rally outside, made a commitment that the organization would not attempt to “shut down” the event before the confrontation took place.
I genuinely don’t mind that protest, Prof Stock added when the demonstrators were removed from the room. I didn’t experience any trauma.
“Generally what I find more worrying is that when institutions have listened to the protesters and (…) then basically become propaganda machines for a particular point of view and everyone else feels they can’t say what they want to say.
“That’s happening, I’m afraid, in lots of workplaces and universities”.
Prof Stock went on to challenge calls for trans-women to access female toilets and changing rooms, arguing that some of them could “take advantage”.
She said it is “not fair on females”, asking: “Why should females take this burden on?”
When pressed by the union’s president, Matthew Dick, on whether trans women posed a similar risk to men, she cited statistics by the Ministry of Justice which showed that “at least 50%” of those in prison are there for sexual assault, adding: “That’s a higher rate than the average male.”
“I hate to be the one to tell you this sort of thing because the people outside totally misunderstand what I’m saying but somebody has to say it,” she said.
When asked if the “huge amounts of violence” that trans people experience make them less inclined to attack women, Prof. Stock shot back, saying, “I’m afraid it doesn’t follow that people who are subjected to violence aren’t violent. I think you need to talk to some criminologists.”
She added: “If we do not talk about reality then we go wrong.
“You can go about your life pretending for a while but reality will hit you in the face.”
A number of Oxford University professors and staff members signed a statement in support of the right of transgender students to speak out against Prof. Stock days before her appearance.
According to the BBC, the open letter, which was published on Saturday by the university’s LGBTQ+ organization and contained the signatures of 100 faculty members and employees, stated: “We believe that trans students should not be made to debate their existence.”
Tuesday morning, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak spoke out in favor of the discussion, claiming that debate was a sign of a “tolerant society” in a piece for the Telegraph newspaper.
Professor Irene Tracey, vice chancellor of the university, supported the philosopher’s appearance before the debate by using “freedom of speech” as a justification.