CW: This piece mentions hateful behaviour towards the Trans community. Readers are advised this may be distressing.
Queensland University of Technology academic and Queer Unionists of Tertiary Education (QUTE) convenor Amy Sargeant has faced transphobic attacks from USyd professors on a Twitter thread criticising anti-trans protests in Sydney yesterday.
The attacks were spurred by the University of Sydney Professor Emeritus Colin Wight misgendering Sargeant after she posted a thread condemning the anti-trans gatherings that took place in Sydney yesterday. Upon being called out for misbehaviour towards trans women, Wight responded — “Unlike you, heckling real women wherever you find them. Still, that’s hardly a new thing for men to do.”
In a podcast episode released in 2021, USyd Professor Emerita Bronwyn Winter made a number of transphobic comments against Sargeant.
“Oh, I’m a little snowflake. I’m going to melt if you say I’m biologically a man,” said Winter.
After describing an offensively caraciutured description of what it means to be trans — words which Honi has chosen not to reproduce — Winter said that “[nothing] is going to change that fundamental fact.”
Sargeant condemned universities’ complicit behaviour by saying that “Universities are happy to throw up rainbow flags and signs during pride month, but unless they take action in the face of violence, abuse and harassment toward queer people, they are not acting as allies. We all deserve safe workplaces.”
The University of Sydney said in a statement to Honi that “We were aware of this video and have just been informed of these more recent comments. While we can’t comment on individual personnel matters due to our privacy obligations, we are now carefully considering this latest activity.”
They alluded to the University Charter for Academic Freedom and mentioned that “university is to be a place where ideas can be freely discussed, including those that some may view as controversial.”
USyd SRC Queer Officers Yasmin Andrews and Ella Pash said in a statement to Honi that “Despite its claims of being a progressive and diverse institution, QUTE member Amy Sargent has flagged multiple members of […] USyd who have harassed her online for being a trans woman.
“This abhorrent display of transphobia is all the more alarming considering her noted research areas include, ‘Gender, sexual orientation, human rights and political asylum’ according to her staff page on the university website. Similarly, Wight can be seen using the same transphobic rhetoric against Sargeant, in multiple tweets calling her a man.”
USyd Queer Action Collective will release information regarding an upcoming snap action later this week on their Instagram @usydqueer.
Editors note: in a previous version of this article, a quote from one of our sources claimed that Colin Wight and Bronwyn Winter were members of teaching staff at USyd. The position of professors emerita and emeritus are “conferred on a retiring professor of the University in recognition of their sustained outstanding service,” according to the University of Sydney.