We have previously discussed the growing intolerance on campuses over those who speak or write from a conservative or opposing perspective. The latest such target is Laura Tanner, a doctoral candidate in its Department of Feminist Studies. Tanner has written against transgender status and ideology. Her tweets have led students and alumni at the University of California-Santa Barbara to demand the termination of Tanner’s association with the university.
Tanner is a feminist who rejects transgender status. She wrote various tweets on the subject including “A woman is someone with a female body and any personality … not a ‘female personality’ and any body. Any other definition is sexism.” She also argued that “It’s not possible to be born in the wrong body,” and “so called trans women will never be anything but men.” Those views were declared by The Daily Nexus as “transphobic.”
While offensive to many, Tanner’s views are also shared by many people including some authors. However the teaching assistant is now the subject of protests by former students not for her conduct in the classroom but for her personal views expressed on Twitter.
The position of these students and alumni is that Tanner could excel in her teaching two courses and assisting in four other courses but still be fired due to her opposing personal views on transgenderism.
One of her former students, Kyremina Youssef, has reportedly discussed her filing a complaint against Tanner and led demonstrations against her. In response to such complaints, Laury Oaks, the chair of Tanner’s department, called Tanner’s social media posts “distressing.” He also told the student that ethics and a Title IX complaint could be filed.
In the meantime, a June 12th letter from doctorate students denounced a “graduate student’s transphobic and anti-sex work rhetoric and reported conduct as an instructor.” The Ph.D students wrote:
We acknowledge that the gender binary, as it is commonly understood in the US, is rooted in the logics of colonialism, racism, and gendered domination, and that fighting transphobia is integral to resisting and healing from the harms that these systems create. The violence of transphobia, particularly transmisogyny, falls especially hard on communities of color and contributes to the exploitation, criminalization, and incarceration disproportionately experienced by black, brown, immigrant, and working class people. As queer students, students of color, and/or allies, our visions of feminist futures include and affirm people made invisible by and marginalized by the gender binary. In
our classrooms, we are committed to holding space for trans students, including taking seriously trans students’ experiences, standpoints, and intellectual contributions.
At no point do these future teachers express any support for the right of their colleague to hold opposing views. Instead, they encourage action against Tanner while adding “To the students who are troubled by all of this, we support your freedom of speech as it may manifest
in awareness-raising, protest, etc and offer our collaboration in efforts to address transphobia and anti-sex worker sentiments on this campus.” These students however are trying to silence a colleague due to her exercise of free speech outside of school.
If Tanner took improper actions in class, there are ample means to sanction her. However, the focus of these protests appears to be her voicing her views of transgenderism on social media. What is chilling is the complete lack of recognition that Tanner also has free speech rights as well as academic freedom in voicing opposing views. What do you think?
This campus was previously involved in a notorious incident involving one of its faculty from the Feminist Studies department. We have previously discussed how Feminist Studies Associate Professor Mireille Miller-Young criminally assault pro-life advocates on campus of the University of California at Santa Barbara. To the shock of many of us, she was not fired by the University of California and how she was supported by many faculty and students in her violent response to a pro-life display.
Miller-Young’s concept of activism was on display when she led her students in attacking a pro-life display, stealing part of their display, and then committing battery on one of the young women. She pleaded no contest to the criminal assault. Despite the shocking conduct of Miller-Young and the clear violation of the most fundamental values for all academics in guaranteeing free speech and associational rights, the faculty overwhelmingly supported Miller-Young and the university decided not to impose any meaningful discipline. To make matters worse, Michael D. Young, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, not only issued a statement that seemed to blame the victims but practically defended Miller-Young’s conduct. Faculty and student defenders attacked the pro-life advocates and one even referred to them as “terrorists” who did not deserve free speech.