IGALA CALLS ON OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS TO REVIEW DECISION TO PUBLISH TRANSPHOBIC BOOK
The International Gender and Language Association (IGALA) opposes Oxford University Press’s decision to publish the book “Gender Critical Feminism” by Holly Lawford-Smith without an appropriate peer review by transgender scholars. Our position is that an incendiary work of this nature published in a respected press will directly affect the lives of transgender people around the world. For this reason, among many, trans people and allies in the women’s, gender and sexuality studies community should be prioritised in reviewing and publication decisions in relation to this work. Lawford-Smith is a vociferous and notorious opponent of transgender rights, whose integrity as a researcher has been called into question by her colleagues on a number of occasions.
Our opposition to this publication in its existing form is grounded in our organizational statement on the rising global ride of transphobia around the world, in which we state that so-called “gender critical” feminism is a “distortion of the feminist tradition” which reproduces “problematic binaries that harm trans and genderqueer people, as well as cisgender women [and] are based on interpretations of women’s liberation that are both myopic and problematic and work to oppose important social reforms that would reduce the marginalization and violence experienced on a daily basis by trans people”.
Lawford-Smith, who habitually refers to transgender women as men, furthermore fails to adhere to the Linguistic Society of America’s position on misgendering. Our endorsement of this important statement commits us as an association to adhering to the norm of “respecting and affirming the gender and other aspects of identity of the members of our community”. In our view this is a minimum standard for promoting the equal value and dignity of all human beings, a standard which OUP will fail to meet if publication of the book in its current form goes ahead.
As OUP authors and stakeholders have recently pointed out, “gender critical” feminists include people who “believe that trans people do not and should not exist”. This group is a “coordinated polemical intervention, unsubstantiated by peer-reviewed research in the fields of gender, sexuality, queer, and trans studies, that promotes itself by the deliberate sowing of public ‘controversy’ without being held accountable for very real and dangerous consequences of these discourses for entire demographics of human beings”.
In an ever more neo-liberalized academic sector where publication is linked to tenure and promotion, we do not take this call to review your decision lightly. We hope that Dr Lawford-Smith listens to the voices of her trans peers, contemplates the harm she has done in the past, and reconsiders her alignment with a transphobic movement.
We would like to point out that should OUP go ahead with the publication of this work, members of IGALA who decide to withdraw from existing OUP projects, including unpaid editorial and reviewing work for the press, would have our full support.
IGALA Executive Committee