A law student from Abertay University in Scotland is at risk of being expelled right before her graduation because of her comments on female anatomy. During a debate seminar on gender feminism and the law, Lisa Keogh came under fire for saying “women have vaginas” and that, in general, men are stronger than women. Her classmates called her a cis-gendered, privileged, transphobic white woman and reported her to the university. Now she may not be able to earn her degree. (1)
Law Student At Risk Of Explosion Because Of Her Comments On Female Anatomy
Lisa Keogh is a 29-year-old partner, mother of two boys, and fourth-year law student. Her dream of actually becoming a lawyer, however, is at risk of never coming true. In an online seminar where the students were debating transgender athletes in sport, among other transgender issues, Keogh stated her opinion that, biologically, women have vaginas and men are the physically stronger sex. (1)
Her comments on female anatomy, however, sparked massive debate amongst the other students. Almost entirely a female panel, the students told her she was a white, privileged transphobe. A month later, the university sent her an email letting her know that they received a complaint about her “offensive” comments. The school was investigating, and she was at risk of losing her degree. (1)
“I was asked to define what a woman was and I said someone with a vagina. A biological fact, I thought — and still think — but apparently it is now unacceptable to say it. The whole thing descended into a row. It became quite toxic. Because I had dared to question anything about transgender rights, a target was on my back.” Keogh recalled. (1)
What Exactly Happened In That Seminar?
During the seminar, many topics surrounding gender and feminism were raised, including the debate of transgender women in sport. Keogh stated her opinion based on personal experience and what she had previously read on the topic: That women were, on average, physically weaker than men and that transgender women have an advantage due to years of higher testosterone levels in their bodies. (2)
“I wasn’t being mean, transphobic, or offensive. I was stating a basic biological fact. I previously worked as a mechanic, and when I was in the workshop, there were some heavy things that I just couldn’t lift but male colleagues could.” (2)
She went on to state that she used evidence to back up her argument, and that the point of the seminar was to debate the differing views on the topic. She says she still stands by what she said. (2)
“Not all women will be weaker, but it’s simply not true that there is equality. We were talking about the issue — which is legally important —of trans women taking part in women’s sport. I used evidence to support my arguments. Some of the others turned on me. I was accused of being a white, cis woman who was speaking from a position of privilege.” (1)
A Heated Debate
Keogh says that students made comments that she found offensive and discriminatory toward men. (1)
“The lecturer said something like ‘all men are rapists and we should lock them up after 6 pm‘. I took offense at this. I have two boys and a partner who is a man. I don’t think all men are rapists. Of course, they are not.” (1)
The debate continued and the reports state that Keogh called her classmates “man-hating feminists”. (2)
About four weeks after the debate, Keogh received an “urgent” email from the university stating that someone had accused her of making offensive and discriminatory comments. She then had to attend an online hearing to discuss the matter, the potential penalties, and what was to happen next. (1)
“When I logged on for the meeting, I asked directly, and the investigator said she would get to that. It took a while for the penny to drop. I actually felt sorry for her when she had to say, ‘Is it true you said women have vaginas?’ What a silly thing to have to ask anyone. Yes it is true. I said it. I would say it again. I don’t think I made her job any easier, because I might have laughed,” Keogh said. “This farcical situation could cost me my degree, and there is a bigger point, too, which is why I want to speak out. If we really are at a point where saying that women have vaginas is offensive, then I think it’s very worrying.” (1)
After experiencing some backlash about the investigation, the school clarified that they were not just investigating what was said but how Keogh said it. She stands by what she said and reminds everyone that people said things to her that were also offensive. She said that the lecturer also eventually muted her audio. Keogh questions where her rights are in this situation, as well as the stance on free speech in the UK. (1)
Comments on Female Anatomy & The University’s Response
This investigation drummed up even more debate online, with many people feeling that the school is unfairly punishing Keogh. Abertay University maintains that it is school policy to formally investigate every complaint that they receive, be it from staff, students, or otherwise. They posted on Twitter to clarify that the school has, does, and always will stand by free speech. (2)
“We are disappointed by inaccurate press reports and comments relating to freedom of speech at Abertay. To be absolutely clear, freedom of speech within the law is not only permitted at Abertay but is strongly encouraged,” they tweeted. “All Universities should be places where controversial, challenging, or even upsetting issues can be debated in a constructive and collegial way. The University does not comment on student disciplinary cases and is duty bound to investigate any complaints received.” (3)
Keogh, who wrote her exams and handed in her final dissertation in April, is still waiting to know the status of her degree.
- “My degree is at risk… because I said women have vaginas: How a mother-of-two law student is facing disciplinary action from a university after speaking out during seminar on transgender issues (in a woke new world you thought couldn’t get crazier).” Daily Mail. Jenny Johnston. May 21, 2021.
- “Law Student Faces Disciplinary Action for Saying Women Have Vaginas During Gender Discussion.” News Week. Jon Jackson. May 17, 2021.