Disciplinary action is being taken against Lisa Keogh, 29, for “offensive” and “discriminatory” comments she made during classes at Abertay University in Dundee. Keogh was denounced by younger students after she maintained that women are born with female genitals and that “the difference in physical strength between men and women is a fact”. A formal investigation into her conduct has now been launched.
Keogh said she was stunned when she received an email accusing her of transphobic and offensive comments at seminars on gender feminism and the law. “I thought it was a joke,” she said. “I thought it was impossible for the university to prosecute me for using my legal right to free speech,” she told the British newspaper The Times.
She allegedly stated that women were the “weaker sex” and that her classmates were “feminists who hate men” after one of her classmates claimed that all men are rapists and pose a danger to women.
“I didn’t deny that I said these things and I told the university exactly why I did it,” she said. “I didn’t mean to be offensive, but I took part in a debate and expressed my sincere views. I was abused and called names by the other students, who told me I was a “typical cis white girl”. You must be able to freely exchange different opinions, otherwise it is not a debate”.
During a video seminar Keogh had raised concerns about a transgender woman’s participation in mixed martial arts fights, but was muted from participating. “I argued that this woman had testosterone in her body for 32 years and as such would be genetically stronger than your average woman,” she said.
“I wasn’t mean, transphobic or offensive. I was just stating a basic biological fact. I used to work as a mechanic and when I was in the workshop there were heavy things that I just couldn’t lift, but male colleagues could.”
The university’s definition of misconduct includes “use of offensive language” or “discrimination against gender reassignment”. Sanctions include expulsion from the institution. Keogh, mother of two, fears for her future. “I don’t come from a legal background and I have worked incredibly hard to get to where I am,” she said.
“I’m afraid my chance to become a lawyer, and to make a positive contribution, may end just because some people have been offended.”
Abertay University said it would not comment on disciplinary issues.