Some thoughts on Bristol University disciplinary action against trans student

CW: Transphobia

The Univeristy of Bristol continue their prolonged harassment of trans student Nic Aaron, deciding to postpone – yet again – disciplinary proceedings that have already stretched on for over a year.

Around 50 trans activists and allies rallied outside the University of Bristol last Wednesday to support Nic at what was their third appearance in these proceedings. The Univeristy have repeatedly warned against Nic giving comment to media outlets by the University’s legal team, indicating a pattern from the University of Bristol of suppressing a public journalistic investigation into the full process. On the day, UoB responded to the peaceful protestors, who were gathered outside the building, blowing bubbles and having a picnic, with extra security and had demanded a police presence.

What was the crime for which Nic is being investigated over such an incredible length of time? They wrote an open letter to Bristol University, to clarify whether they planned to host a Woman’s Place UK (a notorious transphobic hate group) on campus, back in February 2018. Following on from this, Nic is being vilified and accused of violent harassment, curtailing freedom of speech, bringing the university into disrepute and more. Does UoB believe itself a law unto itself? How can students speaking up for their safety be demonised and abused in this way?

According to the University of Bristol student paper, Epigram, Woman’s Place UK played a pivotal role in gathering evidence, feeding material found by stalking Nic online to student associated with their group who is enrolled at the university, and did their dirty work for them; “the accuser has stated openly in an e-mail to members of staff that WPUK actively assisted in compiling evidence from Q’s personal media accounts – evidence which is now being used in an ostensibly internal disciplinary hearing.”

Going forward, this could have serious consequences for students who dare stand up for themselves on University campuses. What if next time it’s a trans woman, a trans person of colour, and/or someone relying on their student visa to remain in the UK? This is about much more than Nic’s case. This is about an institutional pattern of abuse and systemic violence by UoB, especially in regards to students who dare to demand accountability and inclusive change.

We shouldn’t be – and aren’t – surprised that these malicious transphobes would seek to use the power of an institution as powerful as the university of Bristol against a trans student. They have shown themselves, time and again, to align themselves with the state, the police and any other force who will harm their victims: trans people.

Posie Parker – known for, among other things, commending Tommy Robinson for his Islamophobia, calling for the sterilisation of trans people and her connections to far right group in the U.S., the Heritage Foundation – was calling for her transphobic friends to go and harass Nic and their supporters at yesterday’s hearing.

Jules Trashcandel, who attended yesterday’s protest to support Nic said:

“This is an amazing turnout to support our friend who is being wrongly persecuted by the University. When your actions are being praised by out-and-out fascists, you must realise you are on the wrong side of history. It’s a hard time for the trans community but we will get through it, we are much tougher than the TERFs (trans exclusionary radical feminists) bargained for.”

So, what can you do? Why not support the work of Sister not Cister UK, a campaign group fighting transphobia from an anti-capitalist, anti-racist, anti-state angle. Or, why not contact the Univeristy of Bristol and express your displeasure at their treatment of one of their students. Rest assured that if you are not a student there, they cannot seek to discipline you for the henious act of writing.

Helena Steal


 

Sister Not Cister UK flyer on A Woman’s Place UK: