A teaching assistant at UC Santa Barbara has come under fire this summer over posts she has made on social media about transgender people. In one post, she said “There is no such thing as actually being transgender (a male woman or a female man). Believing so is a delusion. I will not validate such a decision by validating terms like ‘trans people.’ Interpret that as you will.”
According to a report by the UC Santa Barbara student newspaper, teaching assistant Laura Tanner has faced an intense backlash from the university community over her remarks on transgenderism.
In a series of tweets since the beginning of 2019, Tanner has questioned the legitimacy of transgenderism. “It’s not possible to be born in the wrong body,” Tanner wrote in one tweet. “So called trans women will never be anything but men,” she wrote in another.
“People who think they are transgender exist. No debate,” Tanner said in a longer Tweet. “There is no such thing as actually being transgender (a male woman or a female man). Believing so is a delusion. I will not validate such a decision by validating terms like ‘trans people’ Interpret that as you will.”
The Daily Nexus, the student newspaper of UC Santa Barbara, published a report earlier this month entitled “UCSB Teaching Assistant Under Fire From Colleagues, Students for Transphobic Tweets.” The report claims that Tanner has been labeled a “TERF” by many, a term which stands for “trans-exclusionary radical feminist.”
400 members of the UCSB community signed a letter calling on university administrators to address Tanner’s remarks.
It has come to our attention that among the many otherwise-wonderful Feminist Studies course offerings, some deleterious and hateful material has been presented in the classroom and online targeting trans students. Material that denies the existence and lived experiences of trans people, especially trans women, is not only factually inaccurate but harmful to trans students. Such views are incompatible with the ethical responsibilities of Feminist Studies as a discipline, and should not be espoused by instructors, TAs, or in course material.
Tanner defender herself to the student newspaper, arguing that the campaign by students to have her fired is a violation of her First Amendment rights as an employee of a public institution.
“The student campaign asking the university to retaliate against my exercise of free speech by “firing” me has included incitement to violence, defamatory lies about my teaching, and harassment in regard to my race and sexuality,” Tanner said in a brief comment.
“The silencing, no platforming, and retaliation against academics who question or critique trans ideology is a problem throughout the world. This is especially concerning in the university environment, which is supposed to be a place of open, unimpeded exchange of ideas,” she added.
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