Dame Jenni Murray, presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, has pulled out of a talk at Oxford University following accusations of transphobia.
The broadcaster had been invited by the university’s History Society to speak on the topic of ‘Powerful British Women in History and Society’ on Saturday November 17.
LGBTQ+ students heavily condemned her scheduled appearance, citing an article that she wrote for The Sunday Times magazine in March 2017 in which she expressed what they have termed “transphobic” views.
“Oxford SU LGBTQ+ campaign believe that inviting publically transphobic speakers to the university, without challenge, further marginalises and unnecessarily compromises the welfare of trans students and staff,” the Oxford SU LGBTQ Campaign writes in a statement.
“She has told trans women ‘don’t call yourself ‘real women’’, that ‘it takes more than a sex change and makeup’, and repeatedly insinuated that transgender women and girls are not women and can only pretend to be women.
“Her views, which clearly reflect a lack of engagement with the vast majority of actual trans people, and are in sum deeply harmful to trans women and trans feminine people, contributing to and exacerbating the harassment, marginalisation, discrimination, and violence that they already face.”
The article that Murray wrote last year was titled: “Be trans, be proud – but don’t call yourself a ‘real woman’.”
She opened with the question: “Can someone who has lived as a man, with all the privilege that entails, really lay claim to womanhood?”
She then stated that she is “not transphobic or anti-trans”, and that she is not a “trans-exclusionary radical feminist.”
On the Facebook event for the talk, Oxford University’s History Society explains that Murray had been invited to speak due to her “prominent role as a presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, as well as for her historical writings.”
The society also states that its members “condemn any transphobia and do not necessarily endorse the views of our speakers.”
Yesterday the society announced on Facebook that Murray had cancelled her appearance at the event due to “personal reasons.”
It hasn’t been made clear whether the presenter’s decision to no longer attend the event has been caused by the accusations of transphobia being made against her by the Oxford University LGBTQ Society, the Oxford SU LGBTQ Campaign and the Oxford SU Women’s Society.
Oxford University’s guidelines on transgender and gender identity outlines that the institution “aims to anticipate and respond positively to the needs of trans and gender variant students, staff and alumni, enabling all members of the university to feel welcome, safe, valued and supported in achieving their potential and contributing as a member of the university.”
The Independent has contacted Murray for comment.