You might have missed it, but NUS officer Fran Cowling made some pretty bold claims regarding Peter Tatchell, saying how she would not share a stage with him because she claims he is “transphobic”.
I’m sure many of you, like me, are wondering what her reasoning behind this bold claim was. Sadly, her argument for transphobia is seriously weak.
Her argument seems to be entirely based upon the fact that Peter signed an open letter in support of free speech and against the growing trend of universities to “no platform” people who have views with which they disagree.
Cowling is essentially claiming that this letter supports the incitement of violence against transgender people, and claimed it “supported a number of TERFs [trans exclusionary radical feminists] in their right to be openly transphobic and incite violence against trans people” and that by signing it, Peter must support it as well.
Naturally, Peter has denied these claims and criticised Cowling’s refusal to appear alongside him at the talk at Canterbury Christ Church University.
He spoke to the Independent, saying: “Fran Cowling, apparently acting in the name of the National Union of Students, has denounced me as a racist and a transphobe. She has a right to refuse to speak alongside me, but not to make witchhunting, McCarthy-style, untrue allegations.”
Peter also discussed the allegations with the Daily Mail, where he said: “I have never used racist language or harassed anyone. I have challenged Fran Cowling and NUS LGBT to produce evidence for these claims. They have failed to produce the evidence – because the accusations are untrue…I have supported every anti-racist and pro-trans campaign for the last 49 years.”
“I’m prepared to share a platform with people I profoundly disagree with… in order to challenge and expose them. Free speech is one of the most precious of all human rights.”
Author Jude Dawson, a Stonewall role model and transgender woman, has said that she doesn’t believe the allegations are true.
“He’s worked phenomenally hard for the LGBT community and he’s sacrificed pretty much his adult life to supporting the rights of LGBT people around the world,” she said.
So far, there has not been further comment from Miss Cowling.