Julie Bindel: Feminist writer claims she was 'physically attacked' by trans activist after university talk on violence against women

Trans woman insists she 'did not raise a fist' after being accused of attempting to punch speaker

Chris Baynes
Thursday 06 June 2019 23:31 BST
Julie Bindel said she was attacked after a speech at the University of Edinburgh.
Julie Bindel said she was attacked after a speech at the University of Edinburgh. (David Sandison)

A high-profile feminist writer has alleged she was “physically attacked” by a trans activist after speaking at a university event about women’s rights.

Julie Bindel said she was targeted by a protester after giving a talk at the University of Edinburgh about violence against women.

But her alleged attacker, Cathy Brennan, a trans woman, insisted she “did not raise a fist” and had sought only to “speak face to face with a person who has caused great harm to trans people across this country”.

The panel discussion, organised by the university’s Institute for Education, Teaching and Leadership, on Wednesday evening, had been criticised by some students as “transphobic”.

Speakers included feminist authors and academics, who were invited to discuss whether women’s rights enshrined by the United Nations are threatened by a shift towards referring to gender instead of sex.

Bindel, co-founder of Justice for Women, told The Independent: “I’d done a talk on women and resisting male violence. It was about how the one thing that unites women everywhere, women and girls, is the threat and reality of male violence and that I’d be happy to stop calling myself a women as soon as we weren’t oppressed and disadvantaged for that."

She added that when she came out someone screamed at her "saying that I was scum, I was a c***, I was filth," before they "went to punch me in the face but was dragged away by security."

Bindel said she had tried to take a picture of her attacker because she "figured it would probably be wise to get some evidence" and they looked like they could "be danger to other speakers or delegates".

As her attacker attempted to get her again, she added that they "had to be restrained by three security guards."

The punch had come within inches of her face, she said.

Professor Rosa Freedman, a University of Reading legal expert who was also on the panel, said she had witnessed Bindel being “violently attacked”.

Bindel said she was shaken but not physically harmed by the incident, and police were not called.

Brennan declined speak to The Independent, saying: “If members of the press would like to hear my side of the story then they can let me write a full opinion piece entirely in my own words.”

Writing on Twitter, she conceded she had “lost my s*** at Julie Bindel”.

But she added: “The truth of the matter is that I did not raise a fist. I attempted to push past security so I could speak face to face with a person who has caused great harm to trans people across this country.”

Police Scotland could not confirm to were investigating the incident.

Liberation, a Edinburgh University's Students' Association group that campaigns for LGBT+ and women’s rights, had organised a silent protest outside the event.

The group previously said it was “disappointed and angry to see the university once again being made unwelcoming for trans people”.

In a series of tweets last month it added: "Arguments under the guise of ‘sex-based rights’ all too frequently lend themselves to denying the rights of trans people to be recognised in their gender."

Bindel has long angered trans activists, who accuse her of using offensive and transphobic language. She has also faced intense criticism after speaking out government plans to introduce self-identification for gender.

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Prof Freedman also opposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act that some feminists believe would threaten women's safety and privacy leading to the loss of single-sex spaces.

Bindel dismissed her critics at Edinburgh University as “the woke Stasi” and said academics had “whipped this up into a frenzy, calling us Nazis and bigots and TERF scum”.

Diane Abbott, the Labour shadow home secretary, was among those who rallied to her support on Twitter.

But others criticised Bindel, accusing her of misgendering her alleged attacker.

The University of Edinburgh has been approached for a comment.

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