Ms. Buckley, a feminist philosopher who holds a Ph.D. from Duke, said the university last week dropped its plans to have her deliver a speech on her research after learning of her public stance on “trans identity” issues.
“Harvard has let me know that I cannot be a scholar of British Romanticism because I do not believe there are male women,” Ms. Buckley said in an open letter posted Thursday on the Women’s Liberation Front website.
Mahri Irvine, WoLF executive director, said Ms. Buckley had worked for several months with a graduate student coordinator at the Harvard English Department to plan the event, which “had been structured around Dr. Buckley‘s cutting-edge research.”
“On a more difficult note (especially for a Friday evening), I just looked up Devin Buckley so I could list the right title/affiliation on the application, and I noticed that she‘s on the board of a trans-exclusionary radical feminist organization,” said the email from one Harvard student coordinator to another, which was shared with The Washington Times.
“I also found at least one piece of her writing online that explicitly denies the possibility of trans identity,” said the email. “The work you described back in November sounded really interesting and great for us to discuss, but I can’t ask for funding to invite a speaker who takes the public stance that trans people are dangerous or deceptive.”
As a result, Ms. Buckley received an email from another graduate student saying that the department “has refused to extend to you a formal offer to speak at our colloquium.”
“Even if I were to push your visit past [her], it will be near impossible to get our two faculty members to sign onto funding your visit once they learn of your online presence,” the student said in the email. “Really, it’s not so much because of your own personal conviction regarding trans identity. It’s more about the public stance you’ve taken and how you’ve recently crafted a professional presence around these issues.”
The episode comes as a reminder that conservatives aren’t the only ones facing cancellation for holding views decried by the left as “transphobic.”
Prominent feminists such as “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling and tennis great Martina Navratilova have been tarred as “TERFs,” or “trans-exclusive radical feminists,” for challenging the woke narrative on gender identity.
A WoLF board member, Ms. Buckley created the group’s “Encyclopedia of Bad Gender Arguments” and has written several articles for 4W, or Fourth Wave for Women, an online publication for “feminists bravely stepping outside the liberal mainstream.”
In her response to the graduate student, Ms. Buckley called the cancellation “yet another instance of an elite university punishing (and misrepresenting) someone who questions fashionable far left dogma.”
“Considering that many scholars at Harvard and elsewhere are celebrated for their activism both within and without their scholarship, while I am condemned for it, it’s clear that the fact that I am an activist or a polemicist is not the issue, but what I am an activist about,” she said.
Ms. Buckley also disputed the “dangerous and deceptive” characterization, saying that WoLF “opposes ideology and policy dangerous to women,” such as requiring male-born inmates to be housed in women’s prisons based on gender identity.
“As for the claim that we believe trans identity is deceptive, I can only say that we do believe it is deceptive to claim that a male is female,” she said.
The Washington Times has reached out to Harvard for comment.
In a statement, WoLF said that it “opposes this blatantly false characterization of its work and Harvard‘s flagrant disregard for free speech” and posted a petition condemning Harvard‘s “misogynistic decision to deplatform an accomplished philosopher.”
WoLF sued the state of California last year over its 2020 law directing prisons to house inmates based on gender identity.
Last month, the organization partnered with the conservative Independent Women’s Law Center to promote the Women’s Bill of Rights, which seeks to preserve “biological sex as a distinct legal category.”
• Valerie Richardson can be reached at email@example.com.
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