Mary Beard left ‘wanting to cry’ after row over trans ‘censorship’ letter

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Academic Mary Beard was left “wanting to cry” after becoming embroiled in a row over an open letter warning about the “censorship” of people’s opinions about trans people.

Ms Beard is Professor of Classics at the University of Cambridge, has a column in the Times, and is considered one of the country’s best-known classicists.

The professor put her name to a letter in the Guardian yesterday – which has also been co-signed by a number of activists who actively campaign against trans women’s rights.

The letter cited several incidents – including a protest outside a talk by Germaine Greer, who believes that trans women should not be recognised as women, criticism of Green candidate Rupert Reed, who was condemned by his party leader over comments about trans women, and the NUS ‘no platforming’ author Julie Bindel – who has previously attacked a “trans cabal”.

The professor was besieged by hundreds of angry messages  after signing the letter – though she insists she did understand its purpose.

She tweeted last night: “Oh dear, can’t win on this. Either I’m an out and out transphobe or dear old lady who hasn’t quite understood the issues. Which is preferable?

“I fear it has been a very unpleasant experience for me (can’t speak for anyone else). Doesn’t encourage a woman to speak out

“Want to bloody cry. so am going to bed to do that. I feel like never speaking out again.

“After a day like today my head is not going above the parapet for a while. I’m a wasted target.”

Rights campaigner Peter Tatchell also says he was subjected to abuse for putting his name to the letter – and insists he was unaware of the co-signatories.

Mr Tatchell told PinkNews: “A colleague estimates that I received well over 2,000 attacks in the first 24 hours after The Guardian letter was published; nearly all of them misrepresenting the letter and my record of solidarity with the trans community.

“Many of the responses are abusive. Some are threatening.

“I was not aware of the other signatories when I signed. Yet I am being condemned via the McCarthyite tactic of guilt by association.”