Rachel Ara is applying to take Brookes to judicial review for ‘no-platforming’ her

There has been legal development


Rachel Ara, a feminist author whose talk at Brookes was cancelled over fears of her being 'transphobic' is applying to take Brookes to judicial review. Judicial review is where a judge reviews the lawfulness of the decisions made by a public body.

Three weeks ago, Rachel Ara was about to give a talk to the fine art students at Oxford Brookes University, when pro-vice chancellor cancelled the talk just hours before it was due to start. This was due to claims that Ara had engaged in transphobic behaviour.

Lawyers then contacted the feminist artist, suggesting she take legal action for having been denied her freedom of speech.

She has set up a twitter account called "University Challenged" to try to get trans activism out of university policies.

Her campaign intends to "fight for academic freedom of speech to discuss sex and gender". In this campaign, she states: "I'm an artist who was silenced by a University for speaking out about women's rights & gender id on social media. I'm fighting for academic freedom and the right to discuss gender without prejudice. As a feminist, I believe that biological sex matters socially and politically and should be protected legally."

Ara told The Tab Brookes: "I think the thing is I've been part of the LGBT community for over 35 years and have a lot of Gay and Trans friends who are feeling very embarrassed about all this censoring – they too want open conversations. The people who are doing all the stirring (the majority) are straight people causing a lot of issues for our community".

"Also, the other reason I fell into this, like many women, was the concerns of loosing our spaces to men. Spaces are segregated for reasons which are quite obvious.

"The usual answer when you want to talk about DV shelters, changing rooms – any safeguarding or security – is do you think all Trans Women are dangerous – No – I think allowing any man access to women's spaces is dangerous – which is precisely what the GRA will allow".

She has described the cancellation of the event as humiliating , damaging to her reputation, and, although Brookes will supposedly be re-inviting her, she has concerns about making a return.

Ara blames the Stonewall Diversity Scheme for influencing the university's policies. According to Stonewall's website, they are "a member of the Equality and Diversity Forum, a network of national organisations committed to progress on age, disability, gender, race, religion and belief and sexual orientation issues.” Her views are that Brookes has gone too far in protecting transgender staff and students.

The judicial review of Brookes is for the cancellation and for having policies which “threaten academic freedom and inhibit critical discussion of sex and gender”. Her goal is £10,000 for legal proceedings, initial advice and case preparation. She has already succeeded in raising £8000 towards the cause.

“This is a crucial case both for academic freedom and for the rights of people to intellectually dissent from gender identity ideology. Universities are the place where attitudes are formulated, hypotheses are tested, public policy is constructed, and from which influence and impact is radiated. Academics MUST be free to investigate theoretical and practical matters concerning sex and gender, without prejudice."