Lancaster lecturer deemed ‘transphobic’ responds to student backlash

The LGBTQ+ society have called her out


A psychology lecturer at Lancaster University, Katie Alcock, has been under fire in recent months for her comments on gender and identity, which some deem offensive to those in the transgender community and the LGBTQ+ community as a whole.

The concerns and complaints with regards to Alcock’s comments became so great that the Lancaster LGBTQ+ association decided to release their own statement, strongly condemning her views.

The post from the Lancaster University LGBTQ+ association shows deep concern regarding Alcock’s comments. They call her actions “damaging” towards the transgender community and state that her conduct makes the learning environment for trans psychology and related subjects students unsafe. In reference to this post Alcock said: “I have just learned of some communications by students that suggest that I hold “transphobic views”. I was already aware of a posting on Lancaster LGBTQ+ FB page.”

Controversies first arose regarding the views of a Lancaster University lecturer in the 2018/2019 academic year when she gave a talk entitled: “Gender identity: safeguarding children and young people”. Inflammatory language such as “The transgender agenda” was used, being perceived as a harmful attack on the transgender community within The University. This talk is what instigated Lancaster’s LGBTQ+ association to show disapproval in Alcock’s statements.

A Lancfessions post complaining about the lecturer’s actions was posted in mid-February 2020. The post deemed Alcock a “Transphobe” and claimed that “the university is trying to cover this up” and implored psychology students not to choose her module. When shown the post, Alcock stated:

“I’m happy to say that, despite the suggestion of the Lancfessions writer, I have had great interest in my 304 (final year research project) topic on sex stereotypes in children. I’m really pleased to see how enthusiastic students in my department are to engage with novel scientific ideas.”

Further acts of disapproval went so far as an open letter to the University’s vice chancellor. The open letter to the vice-chancellor Steve Bradley raised concerns with regards to the University’s suspension of a trans working group, which supposedly only had “one meeting in 18 months of operation”.

Predictably, the open letter also mentions the issue of transphobic statements of a psychology lecturer. The statement made by the LGBTQ+ society as well as the open letter which has 100+ signatures, shows a general dismay towards Alcock’s views and a widespread disapproval in the ways the transgender community is treated within Lancaster University.

Alcock told The Lancaster Tab: “I would welcome working groups within the university on all the protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010. Clearly, those of the female sex are still hugely underpaid given Lancaster’s awful pay gap. I see many students with disabilities who struggle on campus. Those of minority ethnic and religious groups can also feel very isolated, as can those with same sex attraction and those undergoing gender reassignment. I’d be happy to see the university do more for all of these protected groups, as long as it is all of them, not just some groups.”

Further research found that Alcock is no stranger to controversy surrounding issues regarding the Transgender community. Back in August of 2019 she garnered attention for her pursued legal action towards the ‘Girl Guiding’ after she claimed they were discriminating her for her beliefs as a feminist. This was surrounding her expulsion as a guide leader from the group after she publicly denounced the newly introduced rule which allowed trans girls to join the girl guides.

Alcock’s views are readily available in her online blog in which she writes about her views towards gender identity and how it affects children. Alcock’s opinions rarely are in reference to transgender adults and are often focused on children and how societal circumstances influence gender roles. When asked to comment on the matter, Alcock said:

“I would like in particular to emphasise my view that I am “happy for people to proclaim their own gender identity” and, in fact, I have “deep misgivings about society’s response to those who do not appear or behave in their dress, roles, and interactions with others as society and the patriarchy wishes them to do so based on their biological sex.” I am not quite clear how this marries with others’ description of me as “transphobic.”

A representative of Lancaster University told The Lancaster Tab:

“Lancaster University seeks to ensure all staff and students are supported and treated equally while upholding our commitment to academic freedom and freedom of speech.

“Our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion team in partnership with Dr Ann-Marie Houghton, Dean of EDI, has been working to embed inclusivity in practice around the University. The EDI team has also just welcomed a new staff member, and one of their first projects will be working on our trans policy – one of the key priorities of the Athena SWAN action plan. The EDI team is looking forward to working with staff from the LGBT network, and students, to develop this new policy.”