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UCL Women's Liberation



Hannah Barnes “Time to Think: The Inside Story of the Collapse of the Tavistock’s Gender Service for Children”

By UCL Women's Liberation, on 28 April 2023

A reminder for our event on Thursday 25th May 2023, 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM:

Hannah Barnes “Time to Think: The Inside Story of the Collapse of the Tavistock’s Gender Service for Children”

Hannah Barnes will introduce her highly acclaimed account of events at the Tavistock Gender Identity Development Service for children. A panel discussion will follow, including Dr David Bell and Dr Anna Hutchinson. The event will be followed by refreshments from 7.30pm and a chance to buy Hannah Barnes’ book.

“Time to Think” goes behind the headlines to reveal the truth about the NHS’s flagship gender service for children.

The Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS), based at the Tavistock and Portman Trust in North London, was set up initially to provide – for the most part – talking therapies to young people who were questioning their gender identity. But in the last decade GIDS has referred more than a thousand children, some as young as nine years old, for medication to block their puberty. In the same period, the number of young people seeking GIDS’s help exploded, increasing twenty-five-fold. The profile of the patients changed too: from largely pre-pubescent boys to mostly adolescent girls, who were often contending with other difficulties.

Why had the patients changed so dramatically? Were all these distressed young people best served by taking puberty blockers and then cross-sex hormones, which cause irreversible changes to the body? While some young people appeared to thrive after taking the blocker, many seemed to become worse. Was there enough clinical evidence to justify such profound medical interventions in the lives of young people who had so much else to contend with?

This urgent, scrupulous and dramatic book explains how, in the words of some former staff, GIDS has been the site of a serious medical scandal, in which ideological concerns took priority over clinical practice. Award-winning journalist Hannah Barnes has had unprecedented access to thousands of pages of documents, including internal emails and unpublished reports, and well over a hundred hours of personal testimony from GIDS clinicians, former service users and senior Tavistock figures. The result is a disturbing and gripping parable for our times.

This event provides an opportunity to hear from Hannah Barnes and Tavistock insiders and discuss the issues raised by “Time to Think”.


Hannah Barnes is Investigations Producer at Newsnight, the BBC’s flagship television news and current affairs programme. Prior to joining Newsnight in 2016, Hannah was a daily programme editor at Radio 4’s Today programme and a reporter and producer on a range of BBC radio programmes and documentaries. She began reporting on gender identity services for young people in 2019. Her book, “Time to Think: The Inside Story of the Collapse of the Tavistock’s Gender Service for Children”, was published by Swift Press in February 2023 and is a Sunday Times Bestseller.

Dr David Bell retired in 2021 from his post as Consultant Psychiatrist at the Tavistock. In his role as Staff Representative on the Council of Governors he raised serious concerns about the Gender Identity Service (GIDS). His report gained wide publicity and became part of the chain of events leading to the judicial review, the Cass report and finally the decision to close the service. He is also a leading psychiatric expert in asylum/human rights. He is a former President of the British Psychoanalytic Society.

Dr Anna Hutchinson is a clinical psychologist who has specialised in adolescent mental health and embodied distress over many years. She was a senior psychologist in the GIDS service between 2013 and 2017 and her concerns relating to the clinical practice she witnessed there formed a key part of the narrative in “Time to Think”.


UCL Institute of Education, WC1H 0AL

The event is open to all, but please register below as spaces are limited

Registration link

Education For Women’s Liberation: One Day Conference #Ed4WomensLib

By UCL Women's Liberation, on 20 December 2022

4th Feb 2023 9:00 AM – 10:00 PM at UCL’s Institute of Education



UCL Women’s Liberation SIG and WPUK are excited to announce a day of feminist thought and women’s activism. Building on the highly successful Women’s Liberation 2020 conference, this conference aims to bring together feminist activists, students, academics, writers, politicians and women’s organisations.

Education is key in the struggle for women’s liberation. The campaign for women’s suffrage in this country went hand in hand with campaigns for women’s access to educational opportunities. UCL was the first UK university to admit women on equal terms to men and has historically played an important role in this struggle. The struggle of women and girls to access education continues around the globe today.

Sisters, it is time to bring feminism back into the lecture theatres!

Focusing on education in feminism and women’s lives, the conference will address interconnected themes including: women’s voices in education; sexual harassment in schools and universities; the history of women’s access to education in local and global contexts; the ways in which women’s entrance into education and research has changed workplaces and academic disciplines; the impact of gendered stereotypes in educational spaces, and sex and relationship education in schools.

The conference programme will be structured around five panels with invited speakers from a range of academic disciplines, the focus will be on bringing academic research to bear on topical issues of policy and practice. Alongside the academic discussions, participants will have the opportunity to take part in workshops facilitated by experienced activists and organizers, focusing on developing skills and networking to organize for change in local and national contexts.


9am Doors open.

10-11am Opening plenary Joanna Cherry KC & Akua Reindorf, Introduced by UCL’s Brad Blitz.

11.30-1pm Panels (simultaneous)

Panel 1: Women’s voices in education

Attempts to narrow the scope of what can be said about sex and gender within higher education create unspeakable truths which have wide-ranging effects on research and teaching. This session asks, how are women reclaiming academic freedom and freedom of speech as liberatory values? What lessons can be learned from our successes and failures over the last few years? How can we build support, solidarity and momentum within and across our institutions? How can we influence policy?

Chair: Lesley Gourlay Professor of Education, UCL Institute of Education
Alice Sullivan Professor of Sociology and Head of Research, UCL Social Research Institute, Co-convenor, UCL Women’s Liberation SIG
Raquel Rosario Sanchez Dominican writer, campaigner and researcher
Judith Suissa Professor of Philosophy of Education, UCL Institute of Education, Co-convenor, UCL Women’s Liberation SIG
Jo Phoenix Professor of Criminology, University of Reading

Panel 2: Teaching about sex and gender in schools

The DfE guidance in 2021 achieved a long-held feminist goal of compulsory Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) inclusive of sexual orientation, as well as wider issues of intimate partner violence and coercive control. At the same time, there is a widespread programme of outreach into schools by proponents of ideas of innate gender identity and that sex is a spectrum, often taught under the wider remit of equalities or inclusion. What would a truly feminist RSE look like?

Chair: Michelle Shipworth Assoc Professor in Energy and Social Sciences, UCL Energy Institute
Michele Moore Professor of Inclusive Education, Northumbria University. Co-Edited the groundbreaking book Transgender Children and Young People, Born in Your Own Body
Tamasine Preece Secondary practitioner, health and well-being/PSHE researcher and consultant
Kiri Tunks Teacher, co-founder & Director, Woman’s Place UK. Winner of the Annie Higdon Award
Shereen Benjamin Lecturer in Primary Education, Edinburgh University

Panel 3: Schooling of girls’ minds and bodies

What do culture and society teach girls about their bodies and minds? Growing up a girl is to navigate a world of sex stereotypes, porn culture, sexual harassment, and intense focus on body image. Mental health problems and levels of self-harm are at unprecedented levels for young girls. What are girls’ experiences of their bodies and mental health? How can feminists respond across generations?

Chair: Gemma Moss Professor of Literacy, UCL Institute of Education, Director of the ESRC Education Research Programme
Victoria Smith Feminist writer and journalist. Author of Hags, published Spring 2023
Stella O’Malley Psychotherapist and best-selling author. Founder of Genspect
Dr Katie Alcock Senior Lecturer in Psychology at The University of Lancaster

Panel 4: The global history of women’s access to education

Access to education has historically gone hand in hand with increased political empowerment for women. This panel will address how this struggle has played out and continues to affect women around the globe.

Chair: Miriam David Professor Emerita, Sociology of Education, UCL Institute of Education
Maryam Namazie Iranian born women’s rights campaigner, writer & spokesperson of One Law for All, and Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain
Jane Martin Professor of Social History of Education, University of Birmingham. Director, Domus Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Histories of Education and Childhood
Amy North Associate Professor, Centre for Education and International Development (CEID), UCL Institute of Education

Panel 5: Women, education, and work

Women’s entrance into the workplace and public life has had far-reaching impacts on professions, research agendas, and labour patterns. Changes to women’s work and life chances have led to changes in labour markets and family life. Panellists will address issues such as women’s struggle to access higher education and the professions; women’s financial independence; the need to accommodate mothers in the workplace; equality law, and women’s trade union organizing in the workplace.

Chair: Stephanie Bird Professor of German Studies, School of European Languages, Culture and Society, UCL
Ann Henderson Campaigner in the labour movement and former Rector of the University of Edinburgh. Served as Scottish Commissioner on the Women’s National Commission
Audrey Ludwig Discrimination law solicitor
Senia Paseta Professor of Modern History, University of Oxford

1-2.30pm Lunch: fresh sandwiches & wraps for every dietary requirement.

2.30pm Interactive workshops TBA

4pm Refreshments, tea, coffee and pastries.

4.30-5.30pm Closing plenary Kathleen StockHelen Joyce & Julie Bindel

5.30pm Cashless bar & networking opportunities

7pm until late Evening entertainment TBA

The Feminist Market Place A range of independent feminist stalls, book shops and campaigns.

Please follow this link to access the full programme.

This event is supported by FiLiA and Southall Black Sisters.

About UCL Women’s Liberation Special Interest Group (SIG)

This SIG was set up in 2019 to bring together staff from a range of disciplines whose research addresses pressing social and political issues concerning the status and meaning of women’s rights. Through our seminar series and events, we aim to generate public conversations and collaborations around issues of sex and gender inequalities.

About Woman’s Place UK (WPUK)

Winner of the Emma Humphreys Memorial Group Prize 2018.

WPUK is a grassroots feminist campaign, formed by a group of women in the labour and trade union movement to uphold women’s sex-based rights under the Equality Act 2010.

Woman’s Place UK has organised 31 public meetings, 11 webinars and a conference. These events have been hugely popular with over 15,000 tickets booked across the UK and globally.


We are committed to ensuring access for attendees with disabilities. The conference venue is accessible for those with mobility impairments. Please inform us in advance so that a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan can be completed if you would require assistance during an evacuation, and so that we can ensure sufficient spaces for those using wheelchairs. Please do contact us about your access needs and we will do everything we can to ensure that you can participate fully.

We are not offering a creche at this conference but please contact us if caring obligations would prevent you from attending so that we can provide support. Please email us at wpukevents@gmail.com

Where is the conference taking place?
Institute of Education UCL, 20 Bedford Way, London WC1H 0AL. UCL is located 10 mins from Euston mainline Station and close to Warren Street, Euston Square and Russell Square tube stations.

Are there ID requirements?
ID is required for each person attending and must match the name on the ticket. If you are booking more than one ticket please ensure that each ticket is for a named individual.

Is there a minimum age?
There is no minimum age. Babes in arms are welcome. No unaccompanied under 16s.

Are there refreshments?
A vegetarian or vegan lunch is provided, tea & coffee throughout the day & a variety of pastries in the afternoon.

For the security of all attendees bags may be searched.

What’s the refund policy?
Tickets bought may be refunded up to seven days before the event. The organisers reserve the right to cancel and refund any tickets ordered.

When will the speakers be announced and do I need to book into panels and workshops in advance?
You will be asked to express a preference closer to the event in order to allocate the largest rooms to the most popular workshops. However, places cannot be reserved in advance. (NB if you have access needs we will endeavour to facilitate your preferred choice of session.)

How can I contact the organiser with any questions?
Please contact wpukevents@gmail.com

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UCL Women’s Liberation SIG Autumn Term 2022 – Daphna Joel

By UCL Women's Liberation, on 2 December 2022

***12/12/2022: Please note this talk will now take place online. Zoom details below.***

Rethinking sex, brain, and gender: Beyond the binary

Prof. Daphna Joel

Are the brains of women and men the same or different? Or maybe it’s the wrong question? In the past decade we applied several analytical approaches to study the relations between sex and the brain. These analyses revealed that group-level differences between women and men in specific brain measures rarely add up consistently within individuals to form ‘male’ or ‘female’ brains. Instead, most brains are comprised of both features that are more common in women and features that are more common in men. This is also true of human psychological characteristics – humans possess unique mosaics of feminine (more common in women compared to men) and masculine characteristics. Further studies revealed that the brain architectures typical of women are also typical of men, and vice versa, and sex category provides very little information regarding how one brain will differ from or resemble another brain.

UCL Women’s Liberation are delighted to welcome Prof. Daphna Joel.

Prof. Daphna Joel is a professor of Neuroscience and Psychology, at the School of Psychological Sciences and the Sagol School of Neuroscience at Tel-Aviv University. In the past decade she has been studying questions related to brain, sex and gender, using various analytical methods to analyze diverse datasets, from large collections of brain scans to information obtained with self-report questionnaires. She is also the author of Gender Mosaic: Beyond the Myth of the Male and Female Brain (Octopus, London).

This talk will take place online.
Dec 14th, 2022 1-2pm GMT.
Join Zoom Meeting:

UCL Women’s Liberation SIG Autumn Term 2022 – Karleen Gribble

By UCL Women's Liberation, on 20 September 2022

Mothers, Infants and Sexed Language: A Journey

Dr Karleen Gribble

In early 2022, I was co-author, with nine others, of a paper on the importance of sexed language in communications about pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding. The paper attracted a lot of interest and has had nearly 100 000 reads. It is being applied in diverse contexts including being cited in the UK parliament as underpinning policy on use of sexed language in legislation. The paper was responding to the trend to desex language and much of the discussion around this has focused on the impact of desexing language on women’s rights. However, my work is very much anchored in a child rights perspective. In this presentation I will describe how I came to the sexed and gendered language issue and how and why ‘mother’ is such an important word in protecting the rights and needs of children.

UCL Women’s Liberation are delighted to welcome Dr Karleen Gribble.
Dr Karleen Gribble is an Adjunct Associate Professor in the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Western Sydney University. Her interests include infant and young child feeding in emergencies, regulation of the marketing of breastmilk substitutes, child rights, caregiver-child and child-caregiver attachment, adoption reform, and treatment of infants within the child protection and criminal justice systems. She has published research, provided media commentary, contributed to government enquiries, provided expert opinion for courts, and engaged in training of health professionals, social workers, and humanitarian workers on these subjects. She is a member of the steering committee of the international interagency collaboration the Infant and Young Child Feeding in Emergencies Core Group and has been involved in policy development, training and advocacy in the area of infants and young children in emergencies since 2006. Karleen passionately advocates for recognition of the importance of mothers to their infants and works to create environments that support breastfeeding and the mother-infant relationship, particularly in situations of adversity.


Thursday 6th October 2022, 1-2pm, face-to-face seminar at UCL Institute of Education (room tbc).

UCL Women’s Liberation SIG Autumn Term 2022 – Katie Alcock

By UCL Women's Liberation, on 20 September 2022

Children’s Understanding of Sex and Gender

Dr Katie Alcock

Children of preschool and early primary age often have poor understanding of logic and this extends to concepts of sex and gender, and often leads to younger children displaying more stereotyped preferences and behaviour than older children. I will discuss the literature on this aspect of development including how this applies to children with autism and what other influences may affect this.

UCL Women’s Liberation are delighted to welcome Dr Katie Alcock.
Dr Katie Alcock is a Senior Lecturer at Lancaster University in Developmental Psychology, specialising in typical and atypical language and cognitive development. She is particularly interested in what makes children different from each other, including language, culture, health, and developmental conditions.
Date: Tuesday 29th November 2022, in person SIG Seminar 13.00-14.00 GMT (Room C3.09IOe 20 Bedford Way)

UCL Women’s Liberation SIG Spring Term 2022 – Deborah Cameron

By UCL Women's Liberation, on 24 February 2022

‘Use the right words’: verbal hygiene and feminist politics

Professor Deborah Cameron

Both conservative and progressive movements have a long history of engagement in verbal hygiene, attempting to influence the use of language so that it aligns with their beliefs and values. In this talk I will focus on the ways in which progressive movements, including feminism, have sought to regulate language-use in pursuit of political goals, looking at the forms their interventions have taken and the questions or problems these may raise. ‘Use the right words’ may be a familiar exhortation, but determining what ‘the right words’ are is a more complicated matter than it might look.


UCL Women’s Liberation are delighted to welcome Professor Deborah Cameron.


Deborah Cameron is a professor in the Linguistics Faculty at Oxford University. Her research focuses on the relationship between linguistic and social phenomena, and she has published numerous books and articles about language and sex/gender, including one aimed at non-linguists, The Myth of Mars and Venus. She has also written a short introduction to feminism for Profile Books, and is the owner of the blog Language: A Feminist Guide.


Date: 16th March 2022, 14.00-15.00 GMT
A recording is now available via UCL Media Central ‘Use the right words’: Verbal Hygiene and Feminist Politics


UCL Women’s Liberation Response to The Cheese Grater

By UCL Women's Liberation, on 23 February 2022

The Cheese Grater credits UCL Women’s Liberation with bewitching hundreds of UCL colleagues, leading them astray into dangerous wrongthink. The author appears scandalised that women at UCL should talk to one another, host a conference and a seminar series, and co-sign a letter with other academics who share our concerns.

Flattered as we are by the influence ascribed to us, we have to acknowledge that the Cheese Grater exaggerates the role that UCL Women’s Liberation played in UCL’s decision to cut ties with Stonewall. Nevertheless, we are proud of the part that we have played in opening up discussion of sex, gender and women’s rights at UCL.

The Cheese Grater article contains numerous inaccurate, untrue and defamatory statements. It is a pity that the author did not contact us for comment.

The discussion at Academic Board, was attended by a wide cross-section of academic and professional staff, including LGBT+ colleagues. It was a model of fair and civil debate and speakers both in favour of and against re-joining Stonewall put forward their arguments. We are proud that UCL is showing the way in ensuring that universities are spaces where such discussions can take place without fear and intimidation.

UCL Women’s Liberation continues to offer a forum for discussion of important issues of feminism and women’s rights and we would encourage interested colleagues, students and members of the public to sign up to our mailing list for updates on our activities.

UCL Women’s Liberation SIG Spring Term 2022 – Sara Dahlen

By UCL Women's Liberation, on 2 February 2022

Sex or gender identity? Practical and ethical implications for medicine

Dr Sara Dahlen

Clear communication on sex and gender identity in medical contexts can be challenging. Clinicians may note variation in understandings of these terms, or policies that appear to downplay the relevance of biological sex. This talk explores practical and ethical implications of conflicting language around sex and gender identity in medicine, with focus on potential healthcare consequences, especially for women’s health.
UCL Women’s Liberation are delighted to welcome Dr Sara Dahlen.
Dr Sara Dahlen is a PhD student at King’s College London, researching the ethics of sex and gender in the context of an emerging reproductive technology. She studied Pharmacology at UCL, Medicine at Queen Mary University of London, and  Bioethics and Society at King’s College London.
Date: 17th February 2022, 14.00-15.00 GMT

UCL Women’s Liberation SIG Autumn Term 2021 – Michael Biggs

By UCL Women's Liberation, on 14 October 2021

‘Queer Theory and the transition from Sex to Gender in English Prisons’

Dr Michael Biggs

An intriguing property of social theory is its potential, when put into practice, to alter the world to resemble more closely the model posited by theory. This self-fulfilling character has been shown for theories in disciplines that emulate natural sciences, like economics and psychiatry. I argue that queer theory too has the power to remake the world in its own image, using the case of prison policy in England. The notion that sex is merely the performance of gender helped to shift the criteria for incarcerating males in women’s prisons: from genital surgery to legal status, and then to gender identity. The implementation of queer theory enables us to unpack two distinct meanings of gender performance: dramaturgical, where the individual gives off the appearance of femininity or masculinity through body modification, clothing, and gesture, and illocutionary, the individual’s verbal claim to be man or women. This case demonstrates the impact of queer theory on institutional policy and elite opinion, even under a Conservative government.

UCL Women’s Liberation are delighted to welcome Dr Michael Biggs.

Dr Michael Biggs was educated at Victoria University of Wellington (in New Zealand) and Harvard University, and is now Associate Professor of Sociology and Fellow of St Cross at the University of Oxford. His research concentrates on social movements and political protest, ranging from the labour movement in the 19th century to the London riots of 2011. He has recently become concerned with the transgender movement’s encroachment on academic freedom and undermining of evidence-based medicine. He is a director of Sex Matters and serves on the advisory board of the Society for Evidence-based Gender Medicine. 

Date: 7th December 2021, 14.00-15.00 GMT

A recording is now available via UCL Media Central ‘Queer Theory and the Transition from Sex to Gender in English Prisons’


Statement of solidarity with Professor Kathleen Stock, OBE

By UCL Women's Liberation, on 8 October 2021

Kathleen Stock has been subjected to an extended campaign of bullying and targeted harassment at Sussex University. Longstanding inaction on the part of the university has emboldened the bullies.

Stickers targeting Professor Stock were displayed in her building on Tuesday 5th October, and no action was taken by the university to remove them. Posters were then prominently displayed at the main entrance to the university on Wednesday 6th October. The posters demanded that Professor Stock should be sacked, referencing the students’ power as fee-paying customers.

The activists made a statement on Instagram, objecting to Professor Stock speaking in favour of single-sex spaces and to her role as a trustee of the lesbian-led charity LGB Alliance. The statement concluded: ‘Our demand is simple; Fire Kathleen Stock. Until then, you’ll see us around’. This was accompanied by images of the activists in black balaclavas letting off flares.

We are pleased to see that Sussex University has made a statement affirming that everyone has the right to be free from harassment and intimidation. While those students participating in this campaign of harassment are a small minority, a failure to tackle harassment and bullying contribute to a chilling climate which threatens academic freedom. When the campus becomes a space where people are scared to voice their ideas and views, we all lose out. It is particularly disturbing that the targets of such campaigns are overwhelmingly women, who historically have been silenced and excluded from public life.

Universities have a duty of care to staff and students. A commitment to free speech and academic freedom does not and should not constitute a defence of harassment or attempts to close down the speech of others. Universities must take appropriate disciplinary action against students and staff who engage in campaigns of harassment against other students and staff.

Only a quarter of permanent post-holders in UK philosophy departments are women, and the proportion of female philosophy professors is even lower, despite the fact that nearly half of all philosophy undergraduates are female. As a lesbian professor, Kathleen Stock is part of a small minority, subjected to both sexism and anti-lesbian prejudice. Attacks on a member of a marginalised minority whose only perceived crime is to speak out in defence of women’s rights and lesbian rights reflects the worst elements of a sexist society where violence and intimidation of women and girls is rife.

UCL Women’s Liberation stands in solidarity with Kathleen.