‘Transphobic’ EUSA trustee resigns following open letter from queer Edi societies

Levi Pay’s ‘gender critical’ tweets were previously criticised by trans students

An Edinburgh University Students’ Association (EUSA) trustee accused of transphobia has resigned following an open letter from several Edinburgh queer societies.

In a statement posted on Twitter, Levi Pay claimed he had tried to resign in July following a formal complaint made about him and that an investigation into this complaint had still not began.

The Edinburgh Tab has previously reported on Pay’s tweets that described trans women as “delusional” and accused them of “lying” about their gender identity.

These comments were made during a Twitter argument with an American trans PhD student who told Pay she thought his view were “demonstrably transphobic”.

Jaime Prada, EUSA’s Trans and Non-Binary Liberation Officer said the news was an example of “pushing trans stories to the forefront”, before adding: “that makes me proud to be a student and a Liberation Officer.”

EUSA’s Sabbatical Officers also told The Edinburgh Tab they wanted to “recognise his service and contribution” but understood Pay’s comments had “impacted negatively on members of our student community”. They have also reassured students they have now put a “robust process in place to consider issues relating to Trustee conduct”.

Pay, who sat on EUSA’s board as an external trustee, had been accused of transphobia after tweeting “gender critical” views. These included one that said: “I would certainly see trans women as male”.

At the time Prada told The Edinburgh Tab they thought Pay’s comments were “deplorable” and demanded “accountability” for the trans and non-binary students they represent.

In response to this, Pay tweeted: “To those who seek to misrepresent my views, take individual words out of context, or contort my words, knock yourself out.

“I am not saying for one moment that I did not take a clear line in that Twitter conversation; sex is real and immutable and I was making that point clearly. However this article deliberately implies I said a lot more than I said, and attributes views to me I do not hold.

“I am not interested in correcting individual contortions. Neither is this necessary, because people are more than welcome to read my words for themselves, if they want to”. Before adding: “In time, honesty, facts, reason and dialogue will all win through because in the end they always do”.

Several queer societies on campus – including Pride Soc, LGBTQ+ Law Society, and LGBT+ Medics – then published an open letter yesterday that accused Pay of using the “public platform of his Twitter account to share materials which deny the lived experiences of trans people rejecting their right to self-identify all while equating the protection of trans rights with misogyny and homophobia”.

The open letter then called on EUSA to reconsider Pay’s suitability for his job as a trustee as well as demanding “EUSA publicly reiterates its unequivocal support for the human rights and dignity of trans people and takes demonstrable actions to prevent similar situations in the future”.

Within a day of the open letter being published, Pay had handed in his resignation to EUSA and announced it on Twitter. He says he is leaving EUSA with “no ill will” after receiving a complaint in July about “a person’s stated agreement with [his] gender critical views”.

EUSA’s sabbatical officers told us they wanted to “recognise his service and contribution” to EUSA but were aware his views had hurt trans and non-binary students.

“Yesterday we received Levi Pay’s resignation as Trustee. We respect his decision to resign and want to recognise his service and contribution to the Students’ Association Board since he joined in early 2019, particularly over the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We understand that Levi’s personal comments regarding his gender critical views have impacted negatively on members of our student community and we would like to thank those who have shared with us their feelings and concerns on this matter.

“Thank you to those who continue to hold the Students’ Association to account and to those who have shown your support for our trans, non-binary and non-gender conforming community. We want to reaffirm our shared support also. We are committed to a Students’ Association where all members feel safe and respected – both on campus, in the city and in online spaces.

“Again, we’d like to highlight our commitment to our Safe Spaces Policy, which can be found here, and its coverage of all protected characteristics.

“For anyone who has been affected by this issue, we want to highlight some resources, which can be found here, and again express our commitment to, and solidarity with, our trans and non-binary members.

They also added they had now implement new procedures to review trustee conduct.

“We would like to reassure our members that the Trustee Board, of which the majority of members are students (including the five elected Sabbatical Officers), now has a robust process in place to consider issues relating to Trustee conduct.”

Additionally, in a statement addressing Pay’s resignation and the open letter, EUSA’s Trans and Non-Binary Liberation Officer thanked the letters signatories – as well as the dedication and spirit of trans and non-binary students at Edinburgh.

They said: “This morning, it was announced that External Trustee, Levi Pay, had resigned from his position at the Students’ Association’s Trustee Board, effective immediately.

“Let me be very clear: trans people are not political objects; our lives are not up for debate; defending our rights is not an ‘ideology’. However, spreading hate and threatening our wellbeing is.

“We have a place on campus, we deserve to be safe here. Today, we are pushing trans stories to the forefront, that makes me proud to be a student a Liberation Officer.

The support I have received from my colleagues senior members of the Students’ Association during this time has been greatly appreciated. I would also like to acknowledge the hard work that PrideSoc, The University Of Edinburgh L G B T Q+ Soc and University of Edinburgh L G B T Q+ Law Society in highlighting this issue ensuring it is addressed.

“Our numerous conversations have been a celebration of the spirit dedication of our community.

“Let the long list of signatures under our open letter be an example of our collective commitment to protecting expanding trans rights, on off campus.

“To my trans siblings, you are valid; you are loved. Be kind to yourselves have a splendid day, beautiful humans.”

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