Controversial gender studies scholar quits LSE over ‘harassment’

Former Mermaids trustee and trans activist Jacob Breslow says his gender studies colleagues should be ‘left to continue their vital teaching and research in peace’

August 2, 2023

A gender studies academic who quit as a trustee of the transgender charity Mermaids after it emerged that he had spoken at a conference organised by a paedophile support group has resigned from the London School of Economics.

In a post on his personal blog, Jacob Breslow announced he had left his role as associate professor of gender and sexuality in the LSE’s department of gender studies, where he has been based for more than a decade, first as a doctoral student and then a university lecturer.

Dr Breslow has been on leave after his involvement with Mermaids, a transgender youth support charity, was highlighted by The Times in October, which also found he had attended a symposium organised by B4U-ACT, which promotes services and resources “for self-identified individuals…who are sexually attracted to children and desire such assistance”, according to its website.

One month after the Times’ revelations, the government ordered a statutory inquiry into the management of Mermaids, citing “newly identified concerns” related to the charity’s “governance and management”. The probe is also believed to be linked to a third-party report which identified issues around “internal culture”.

Dr Breslow, who was a graduate student at the LSE when he gave his B4U-ACT talk in 2011, appeared to critique how paedophiles are understood, according to the Times. The American academic later responded on his website that he “unequivocally condemn[ed] child sexual abuse” and his work was “about protecting marginalised children and young people, not exposing them to harm.”

In his latest post, Dr Breslow said he was leaving the LSE “because my department, my colleagues, and I have continued to be subject to harassment, despite LSE’s independent investigation exonerating me”.

“I understand this harassment to be part of a broader movement against the field of gender studies, and against trans rights and dignity, that is increasing the vulnerability of already marginalised people,” he added, saying that he hoped that the “harassment of the LSE department of gender studies comes to an end, and that my colleagues be left to continue their vital teaching and research in peace”.

As an outspoken member of the UK’s largest gender studies department, Dr Breslow had already become a controversial figure in the debate on transgender rights prior to the Mermaids affair. In June 2021 he helped draft and circulate an open letter on behalf of his department demanding that The Open University withdraw its support for the newly formed Open University Gender Critical Network. The letter, which claimed “‘anti-gender’ attacks” drew on “racist, colonial understandings of sex/gender”, was withdrawn by the LSE within a few days.

That year he also accused Harry Potter author JK Rowling of “TERF paranoia” for highlighting concern over the Tavistock clinic, which offers transition services to gender dysphoric children, claiming this amounted to an “anti-trans position”. 

Dr Breslow, who has written extensively on trans childhood, now describes himself as an “independent scholar and researcher”.

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Reader's comments (1)

Extraordinary that an august institution like the LSE hosts the country's largest Dept. of Gender-Woo-Woo. The future of empiricism is safe in its hands, I'm sure.