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Editor’s note on gender self-identification coverage

Earlier this year we published a series of articles on the contentious issue of gender self-identification. Across the media and within academia the subject has been extremely controversial. The Conversation’s coverage at times attracted criticism from individuals on both sides of the argument, but it has been strongly supported by our Editorial Board.

The issue of balance in journalism is also a hotly debated matter, and one I aim to tackle in a future post. In this case, we as a team felt it was absolutely right that the different arguments, being made by eminently qualified people within the higher education sector, were heard.

Recently, it was suggested by some academics that the following article – Why self-identification should not legally make you a woman – and its author were unsuitable, and that it should be removed. The editorial team felt that the article was justified and an important element of our coverage.

Kathleen Stock is a philosopher whose research interests are rooted in issues of gender. I’m comfortable that her background meets our criteria of qualification to write.

The piece was commissioned in a period following our decision in the summer to publish the article: Can a woman have a penis? How to understand disagreements about gender recognition. This was written by an author who holds a similar academic position to Stock, but a different point of view. We felt we needed an alternative view to this, given the strength of the debate that was unfolding.

We followed publication of those two articles with a third piece – a legal debate between academics on both sides of the discussion: What would changes to the Gender Recognition Act mean? Two legal views.

We are aware the broader issue continues to divide people across society, and particularly within academia. I hope that background to our approach to the matter helps illustrate that there is no editorial line on the issue at The Conversation, in keeping with our ethos of providing objective and informed factual news analysis and comment.

The Conversation UK’s Editorial Board has considered our approach and found that the editorial team has acted correctly and in keeping with our Charter.

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