UCSB teaching assistant under fire for 'transphobic' tweets: 'This is a slap in the face'

Students protest teaching assistant's "transphobic" tweets (Credit: Twitter)
Students protest teaching assistant's "transphobic" tweets (Credit: Twitter)

Students at the University of California, Santa Barbara are slamming a teaching assistant for a series of “openly transphobic tweets.”

Laura Tanner is a graduate student at UCSB’s Department of Feminist Studies. According to the Daily Nexus, she previously served as a teaching assistant for an introductory LGBTQ+ studies course. Tanner began to face backlash on Twitter after students found tweets that directly deny the existence of transgender people.

“No, male born ppl cannot be women, and certainly not by simply declaring to be one,” she tweeted on June 19. “I don’t refer to men who think they are women as ‘trans,’” she commented to another Twitter user last December. “They are men and I won’t participate in a delusion that says otherwise.”

Students began calling her out on Twitter this week with one person claiming that she is “not safe to have around students, let alone trans students.”

Another tweeted that Tanner is a “TERF” — or trans-exclusionary radical feminist — a term used by the group to label someone who doesn’t believe that trans women are women. While the Twitter user did not immediately respond to Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for comment, the person wrote that Tanner’s employment with the Department of Feminist studies was a “slap in the face to all of our trans and non-binary students who have already face [sic] so much adversity.”

Students didn’t stop with just airing their views on Twitter, they took to protesting on campus to spread the word. They held up signs, some of which read “Safe spaces 4 all,” “Feminist prof./TA is a TERF” and “Respect gender pronouns.”

One student, named Christopher, reached out to Laury Oaks, who is the Chair of Tanner’s home department. While Oaks did not immediately respond to Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for comment, the professor told Christopher that the Department of Feminist Studies is aware of the situation, and called Tanner’s posts “distressing.”

Oaks also encouraged the student to reach out to Ariana Alvarez, the school’s Director of Title IX under the Office of Equal Opportunity & Sexual Harassment — which is responsible for the University’s polices in regard to “discrimination, retaliation, sexual harassment and sexual violence,” according to the school’s website.

According to the tweet, Alvarez confirmed that Title IX is “actively engaging in a response.”

However, Tanner is not taking accusations sitting down, and spoke up in a statement provided to the Daily Nexus.

“The student campaign asking the university to retaliate against my exercise of free speech by “firing” me has included incitement to violence, defamatory lies about my teaching, and harassment in regard to my race and sexuality,” Tanner told the school newspaper.

In a thread on Twitter, Tanner shared messages she claims to have received from other women “expressing feelings of being unable to speak out against transgender ideologies at their universities for fear of retaliation.”

Laura Tanner and representatives from UCSB did not immediately respond to Yahoo Lifestyle’s requests for comment

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