Scottish law student persecuted for asserting that women have vaginas and are weaker than men

May 15, 2021 • 10:45 am

Yes, one can argue that transwomen don’t have vaginas, though the strength argument can be backed up with data. Both claims may offend some people, but in the present case they apparently weren’t intended to offend anyone, and, at any rate, nearly all arguments offend someone.

But the assertion given in the title of the Times article below is surely not one that warrants persecution of the speaker. Although the UK doesn’t have a first amendment, the student’s claims do constitute free speech. This being the UK, however, offending someone is illegal.  Click on the screenshot to read:

An excerpt:

Disciplinary action is being taken against Lisa Keogh, 29, over “offensive” and “discriminatory” comments that she made during lectures at Abertay University, Dundee.

The mature student was reported by younger classmates after she said women were born with female genitals and that “the difference in physical strength of men versus women is a fact”. The complaints have prompted a formal investigation into her conduct.

Keogh, a final-year student, fears that any sanction could end her dream of becoming a human rights lawyer. Her case is being backed by Joanna Cherry QC, the SNP MP for Edinburgh South West and deputy chairwoman of the Lords and Commons joint committee on human rights, who described the situation as farcical.

Keogh was astonished to receive an email accusing her of transphobic and offensive comments during seminars on gender feminism and the law. “I thought it was a joke,” she said. “I thought there was no way that the university would pursue me for utilising my legal right to freedom of speech.”

But she also said this in response to some pushback she got:

She was accused of saying women were the “weaker sex” and classmates were “man-hating feminists” when one student suggested that all men were rapists and posed a danger to women.

“I didn’t deny saying these things and told the university exactly why I did so,” she said. “I didn’t intend to be offensive but I did take part in a debate and outlined my sincerely held views. I was abused and called names by the other students, who told me I was a ‘typical white, cis girl’. You have got to be able to freely exchange differing opinions otherwise it’s not a debate.”

Keogh claims that she was muted by her lecturer in a video seminar when she raised concerns about a trans woman taking part in mixed martial arts bouts. “I made the point that this woman had testosterone in her body for 32 years and, as such, would be genetically stronger than your average woman,” she said.

“I wasn’t being mean, transphobic or offensive. I was stating a basic biological fact. I previously worked as a mechanic and when I was in the workshop there were some heavy things that I just couldn’t lift but male colleagues could.”

Even so, when a classmate says that “all men are rapists” and “pose a danger to women”, that is surely at least as offensive as what Keogh is accused of saying. But that classmate isn’t being persecuted, despite that claim also violating University speech codes (see below). And Keogh’s response about “man-hating feminists” can be justified as a response to that statement.

“The weaker sex” argument, though often applied to more than just physical strength, in which case it’s misogynistic, was clearly meant in this case to refer to physical strength and nothing more.

This is exactly the kind of academic issue that can and should be debated in searching for the truth, and certainly not silenced. Yet Keogh (though not the person who said “all men were rapists”) is liable to be prosecuted by the University’s speech code.

The university’s definition of misconduct includes “using offensive language” or “discriminating against gender reassignment”. Punishment can be as harsh as expulsion.

Keogh, a mother of two, fears for her future. “I don’t come from a legal background and have worked incredibly hard to get to where I am,” she said.

“I’m worried that my chance of becoming a lawyer, and making a positive contribution, could be ended just because some people were offended.”

I am baffled why saying that biological women are physically weaker, or have vaginas, can constitute “discrimination”, though we know that there is a strict party line here, and questioning it is more or less taboo.

Keogh has a lawyer on the case:

Keogh, a final-year student, fears that any sanction could end her dream of becoming a human rights lawyer. Her case is being backed by Joanna Cherry QC, the SNP MP for Edinburgh South West and deputy chairwoman of the Lords and Commons joint committee on human rights, who described the situation as farcical.

This case would never stand in a U.S. public university, as persecution of Keogh for speech is clearly a violation of the First Amendment. Nor would any private school be prosecutorial enough to go after Keogh, as they’d find themselves on the wrong end of the stick vis-à-vis FIRE or the Academic Freedom Alliance. Under no circumstance should mere “giving of offense” be construed as “misconduct” unless it is persistent, constituting harassment.  As for “discriminating against gender reassignment”, I can’t see Keogh’s remarks falling into that class, as there was no discrimination, simply an argument.

58 thoughts on “Scottish law student persecuted for asserting that women have vaginas and are weaker than men

  1. In a galaxy far, far away, at one time the state, judicial, and academic authorities regularly enforced denial of biological facts and commonplace, everyday realities. Today, events like that encountered by Ms. Keogh would make a visitor from Mars suppose that the British state was ruled by a single party dedicated to Marxism-Leninism-trangenderism, with the power to send any dissidents to forced labor camps on Cairn Gorm. The fascinating part of the present situation is that so many individuals behave spontaneously as though there actually was such a Vanguard Party in charge of everything, even though there isn’t. Or is there?

    1. “Marxism-Leninism-trangenderism” — really necessary? It’s not even wrong, as one of the most persistent critics of the woke are the world socialist web site, i.e. Marxist people.

  2. This problem will infiltrate everywhere. There is some good in the views of the woke (through them its becoming expected that we accept trans women as women. This is a good thing). But then they deny physics and biology and it all goes kablooie. Further progress is hampered as the conservatives are gifted with real ammunition against progressive ideals.

    Imagine a class where the instructor is to describe human reproductive anatomy, or the genetic basis of biological sex determination. The semantic minefield that has emerged is becoming well night impossible to navigate.

    1. I think you’re right, especially about the point of giving ammunition to the enemy in the second paragraph.

      It IS good that people are coming simply to assume that transgender people will be accepted in society. I get the feeling that at least SOME of the absurd reactions we often see are born of an understandable defensiveness in a group that is, perhaps, used to having been attacked in many ways and thus will be somewhat more paranoid and hypersensitive and prone to assume attacks when there aren’t any. It’s not useful or productive, but an animal (which includes people) that’s been abused for a long time may never quite learn not to shrink from or to snarl at an approaching hand.

      But this may be a bad analogy, since a movement is made up of many people, at least some of whom have grown up in a world in which transgender people are accepted, at least in some places. I don’t know. I’m just thinking out loud, as it were.

    2. Whether transwomen are women is debatable, and not the sort of “good thing” that only needs acceptance. One of the reasons the student here is being attacked so viciously is because activists have managed to convince so many people that gender identity theory is an established fact on par with the theory of evolution and slavery being bad. The only reason someone would disagree, is the desire to bully and harm vulnerable people.

      The problem isn’t just a matter of accurate description. If transwomen aren’t women, insisting they are sets off some major conflicts with women’s rights.

    3. What do you actually mean by “… are women” in TWAW? Do you mean “… should be treated as women in every situation”?

        1. I would argue that the situations where we should treat trans women “as women” are situations where we’re simply treating them as human beings, and it doesn’t matter whether they are women or men. This is most situations nowadays. But in situations where it matters whether someone is a man or a women (e.g. women’s sport) then the fact that they are actually biological males is pertinent.

  3. I’ve actually seen feminists argue that makes are in general larger and stronger than females because little boys are fed more and encouraged to exercise, whereas little girls are not.

      1. As a feminist in the 70’s, never thought I’d be ending up having to argue in favor of recognizing actual biological differences.

  4. Keogh has a lawyer on the case:
    the SNP MP for Edinburgh South West

    I had to check – that’s the London-bound MP, not the Edinburgh-bound MSP, so yes, she can actually take paid employment outside that Parliament. If she were a Hollyrood MSP, of course, she’d have to hang up her wig while employed at the parliament. (A university friend who was an author before he was an MSP had to keep notes on when he was working on researching for the next book, versus when he was researching things for constituents. It’s not clear if Keogh is one of Cherry’s constituents. Hard to tell with remote lectures and seminars.)

    1. For those less familiar with Keogh’s lawyer, Joanna Cherry was the lead litigant in the case that ended up in the UK’s Supreme Court and ultimately found Boris Johnson’s 2019 prorogation of the Westminster parliament to have been illegal. So a good person to have on your side, I suspect.

      1. I thought I recognised the name. That’s why I went back and checked if it was a Westminster seat or a Holyrood seat.
        Wasn’t she one of those described by the popular press as a (literal) traitor?

    2. Interesting, but are you positive that that would be the case? Cherry wanted to stand in Edinburgh Central at the Holyrood election on May 6. The SNP changed the rules however so that she would have had to vacate her Westminster seat before standing for a Scottish Parliament seat. This was considered too risky. I can’t think she would have been happy to give up her practice had she won Edinburgh Central.

      1. There was a consultation about banning MSPs from having outside employment (in 2019 I think?) but I’m not sure what the outcome was or whether any change was actually implemented. The Wikipedia article “Member of the Scottish Parliament” doesn’t mention anything so I’ve asked the question on its talk page.

      2. I know that Westminster MPs are allowed to continue running additional employment to being an MP, and it has long been a cause for denigration and a channel for (allegations of) corruption. Is this person being employed for his legal services, or to put a clean polish on paying an MP hundreds of thousands of pounds to ask completely disinterested questions?
        My university friend who is now an MSP left me (and the rest of the mountaineering club) the impression that he had to keep his authorial business-turned-hobby very clearly separate from his constituency work – but that may have been him keeping himself clean, and not a requirement of the Holyrood rules. If it’s not in the Hollyrood rules, I bet he is keeping his nose scrupulously clean in preparation for an attack on those (allegedly) less scrupulous.

      1. I don’t know that Kickstarter (and their many -alikes) don’t operate in Scotland.
        I’m not finding any online reports of Keogh herself looking for funding (hmmm, would Cherry QC be able to present a case in Edinburgh? Quite dubious.), but you don’t go far down that rabbit hole before finding that “mens rights” groups who are looking for funding are reporting the case.
        Have to hold a watching brief on that one.

  5. If you’re a woke model teen who thinks that the only way to know if a person is a man or a woman is by asking them, and Donald Trump shows up and says he’s a woman and wants to come backstage when you’re changing, what do you do to avoid being offensive?

        1. Precisely. If someone that was born a man can simply proclaim they are female and everyone must accept it then there is no difference in a 60 year old claiming to be a teen, sure it goes against the reality of when they were born but then so does the act of someone born male claiming later in life to be female. If one can simply claim the reality they want to embrace without regard to reality then it must also allow the old to claim they are young or the young underage to claim that they are of retirement age and stop working.

      1. It is beyond Orwell or Kafka. If it were written in a novel, we would say “Ag no, too farfetched, too unrealistic, too implausible”. But now it is actual reality, I have no words for the ridiculousness, nay, idiocy, of this “disciplinary action’.

  6. This appears to be an insidious two-step process.

    1. Redefine commonly accepted terms, so woman = adult human female (the sex with large gametes that carries and delivers a child)
    becomes woman = anyone who for whatever reason wishes to be accepted as a woman by everyone else.

    2, Attack anyone who still abides by the original terminology.

  7. These ‘ Woke Wars ‘ are spreading throughout British acadaemia. They appear particularly rife in institutions of higher learning in Scotland. One such is Edinburgh University. Somewhat ironic since Scotland was in the vanguard of the European Enlightenment and the Edinburgh of that time dubbed the ‘ Athens of the North ‘. Recently students accused a Soc. Anthrop. lecturer of holding discriminatory views and penalizing those students who challenged him. A formal investigation was commenced and the lecturer, one Dr Thin stood down from his duties to await the findings. Thin’s main alleged offence appears to have been opposing the decision to rename the David Hume Tower after campaigners drew attention to the philosopher’s apparent approval of slavery. The University however has now decided to investigate certain of the students for ostensibly discriminatory comments made by them about Dr Thin, eg., rape apologist and threat to student safety.
    This is becoming ridiculous. Surely university administrators should be making better use of their time. They might make a start by teaching some students logic and reason. Dr Thin, when initially challenged on his views, wrote to the students as follows:- ‘ Every one of my tweets on moral issues is intended to stoke constructive, reasonable, polite debate that may stand a change of leading to a more loving, harmonious and fair World ‘. Bethany Walsh, a student at the University responded in Facebook as follows:- ‘ What gives you, a white man, the right to define what is constructive, reasonable, polite debate over the lives experience of people’s of colour. If large numbers of people are offended by your views it means they are offensive ‘. I wonder what she would say if her words were paraphrased as a caption over a Nuremberg Rally in full flow, to read as follows:- ‘ If large numbers of people applaud your views Herr Hitler, your views must be worthy of applause’.

  8. Given the antibiological woke definition of “woman” as “adult human with female gender identity” (with “gender” defined as a purely mental state or social role), the having of female genitals isn’t a necessary condition of womanhood. Actually, under that ludicrous definition, there aren’t any necessary biological or physiological conditions of womanhood whatsoever, so that a person with a completely (i.e. gonadally, chromosomally, and phenotypically) male body can be a woman. It follows in woke logic that women needn’t have a vagina in order to be women.

    1. What also follows—absurdly, I think—is that nobody can tell on the basis of third-person observation or physical examination whether somebody is a man (boy) or a woman (girl), since woke manhood (boyhood) and woke womanhood (girlhood) are invisible mental states. So I cannot know whether another person is a man or a woman unless they tell me whether they are a man or a woman (or neither in the case of “nonbinary” persons).
      The good old question asked by expectant parents—”Is it a boy or a girl?”—can no longer be answered by doctors looking at a sonogram of their unborn child. “Well, I see a penis, but that doesn’t mean anything.”

  9. It is reasonable for a group to expect to be treated with a certain amount of dignity. Here though, we seem to be at the point where the group demands complete submission, and inspires fear. If the woke were better students of history, they would find that controlling people through fear might seem a satisfactory arrangement, but the fear always eventually turns to rage once the power imbalance is corrected.
    I would think this is especially true in cultures where free expression has traditionally been treasured, and where one now needs to fear being financially destroyed, shunned, or even prosecuted for saying things that-
    1. Everyone knows to be true, and are easily proved through objective data, and
    2. Are not meant to denigrate anyone, nor would any reasonable person be offended.

    Since we are not actually dealing with reasonable people, there is no real way to predict whether what you say might upset them, or whether any uncontroversial thing you might say now will be found offensive some time in the future, and used against you.
    I just don’t see how we can have a measurable amount of liberty or even free exchange of ideas in such an atmosphere.

  10. “I just don’t see how we can have a measurable amount of liberty or even free exchange of ideas in such an atmosphere.”

    And that’s exactly how the zealots want it. According to their religion, ideas like debate, logic, objectivity, science being driven by data, etc. are just oppressive constructs created by and representative of white supremacy/patriarchy/imperialism/insert-buzzword-here. Their end-goal is very clearly to create an environment where if people don’t parrot what they say is the “truth,” those people risk being fired, expelled — even prosecuted.

    1. I get that is their goal, but the world they want to create is inherently unstable. To begin with, much of their belief system is obviously untrue. “Obviously” in the sense that they were obvious and undeniable a thousand years ago, and will be so a thousand years hence. Maybe, with strong enough threats, they can get people to profess to believe these things, but much harder to get them to actually believe them. Even if they actually convince someone, they cannot keep them from observing in their daily lives that it is not the case. They would need to coerce everyone, continuously, forever.
      I also know objectively that people do not always act rationally. But I can’t help but wonder why they do not seem to be thinking their plan through to it’s obvious conclusions.

  11. What gets me is this in a seminar in law school. Do these students not realize that one day they may have to make exactly these arguments in favor of a client, even if they don’t personally accept them?

    The professor should make an assignment for the entire class: defend, using their best legal argument, the position they personally oppose. Not as any sort of punishment, but because that’s a job skill they need to learn.

  12. Here – in Australia – where the AstraZeneca vaccine is the one most readily available we’re advised that it’s women under the age of 50 who are more likely to be most at risk from the (very rare) blood clotting disorder associated with this particular vax. I wonder how my GP would react if asked by a 40 yo trans female whether she belongs in that ‘higher risk’ group and whether a “No” response would cause offence.

  13. “This being the UK, however, offending someone is illegal.”

    I don’t think that is actually true.
    Usually you would either have to do ACTUAL harm (physical or psychological) by your statements and this could be considered either a criminal or a civil offence. It is the HARM or damage that is illegal, not the causing of offence.

    INCITEMENT to do ACTUAL harm would usually be a criminal offence.

    Incitement is criminally illegal, but that is more than creating offence.

    Expressing an opinion, whether true or not, can be “offensive”, but is rarely illegal in itself. If it results in descriminatory harm, that could be illegal, but it is the DISCRIMINATION that is illegal, not the expression of the opinion.

    As I understand the concept of “hate crime”, there has to be ACTUAL damage or threat. Hatred is not the same as “dislike” as far as the law is concerned.

    I doubt that Lisa Keogh has broken any actual laws.
    It could be argued that her University is actually discriminating against her, in point of fact, especially if it takes or has taken any disciplinary action.

    Keogh is quite correct in placing such issues in the open forum: it is pertinent to the subject under study and is also an issue of contemporary public interest and which requires clarification under law.

    Perceived political correctness is not the same as the law.

  14. This is well beyond Orwell or Kafka.
    If one would have written this in a novel, it would be rejected as too implausible, unrealistic, too unbelievable.
    But yet, it is ff..en reality now. It is beyond the Red Brigades, I have no words for the idiocy behind this ‘investigation’, too ridiculous for words. Ridiculous, but evil too.

    1. I have lost about all of my sympathy and empathy for trans-women due to this clownesque circus.

  15. By the way, as an antidote to woke madness, I recommend Kathleen Stock’s very good new book “Material Girls: Why Reality Matters for Feminism” (Fleet, 2021).
    Professor Stock is a philosopher at the University of Sussex. The Woke regard her as a “TERF” (“trans-exclusionary radical feminist”) and hate her for her allegedly “transphobic” views (which are really non-transphobic!). They have tried to silence her and would love to commit her book to the flames. Fortunately, they haven’t succeeded.

  16. Thanks for posting this. These stories are often overlooked. It’s a strange strange world we are now living in.

  17. Universities have rules about behaviour. If some students make a complaint that another student has breached those rules, what should the University do?

    It should, presumably, “investigate”, i.e. it should look at whether in fact any rules have been breached. And if they have, then presumably some sort of disciplinary action would normally follow.

    If Lisa Keogh has only done what she said she did, then I don’t think there should then be any case to answer. My point, though, is that Lisa Keogh, as is evident from the actual information in the original article, has not in fact been disciplined at this point at all. She is, or has been, “only” subject to “investigation”. Being investigated is not itself disciplinary action, it’s how you find out what happened.

    It is a bit strange that this post, and much of the coverage, overlooks this elementary factual point.

    In making this point, I don’t intend to say that I think the other students were justified in complaining. On Keogh’s account, I don’t think they were. But notice also that we do only seem to have Keogh’s account, and it does sound like there was at least a bad tempered argument (“man hating feminists”?) – not that a mere bad tempered argument should be cause for complaint either.

    Anyway, this is just a plea for accurate commentary.

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