Germaine Greer: Author gives Cardiff University speech despite protests against her comments on transgender people

Professor Greer had previously said she would not give the talk, but relented after being assured she would be safe

Ian Johnston
Wednesday 18 November 2015 21:23 GMT
Professor Greer previously said she would not give the talk
Professor Greer previously said she would not give the talk (Getty Images)

Germaine Greer has defied protesters by giving a speech at Cardiff University, in the face of opposition from some students angered by her controversial views about transgender people.

The university had insisted that its commitment to freedom of speech meant that the leading feminist academic should be allowed to give the Hadyn Ellis Lecture.

The speech, entitled “Women and Power: The Lessons of the 20th Century”, was not expected to touch on transgender issues. But the Student Union’s women’s officer, Rachael Melhuish, raised a petition of more than 3,000 people calling for the university to cancel the lecture, saying that “hosting a speaker with such problematic and hateful views towards marginalised and vulnerable groups is dangerous”.

Professor Greer, 76, had previously said she would not give the talk, but reportedly relented after being assured she would be safe.

There were at least five police officers and at least 10 university security staff monitoring a crowd of about 25 demonstrators and checking tickets.

Professor Greer's speech did not touch on transgender issues. But she was asked by a member of the audience: “Doesn’t language which attacks the identity of transgender women lead to exclusion and violence?”

She replied: “I don’t believe a woman is a man without a cock. Beating me over the head is not going to change my mind … if you don’t find your pants full of blood at age 13 then you don’t understand what it is to be a women.

“I do agree that calling names may add to misery but this happens to women all the time. People are intolerant and no one is safe.”

One of the protest organisers, Payton Quinn, told The Independent: “Germaine Greer has been, for 20 years, using violent language against trans people, especially trans women... But there’s been very little done to challenge her. We oppose her speaking here unchallenged.”

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