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Editors quit at feminist journal that compared transgenders to Rachel Dolezal

Board yanks authority from advisers who apologized

When the feminist philosophy journal Hypatia published an article that compares transracial identity to transgender identity, outrage ensued and the journal’s board of associate editors said the article should never have been published.

Hypatia and author Rebecca Tuvel, a young philosophy professor at Rhodes College, were accused of causing “violence” to transgender people by saying they are similar to Rachel Dolezal, the disgraced NAACP chapter leader who identifies as black.

The associate board was soon contradicted by the journal’s board of directors, which stood behind the decision to publish the article and personally affirmed the editorial judgment of Editor Sally Scholz.

But the controversy has been so damaging to Hypatia that Scholz and Shelly Wilcox, online reviews editor, are resigning their posts.

A statement from the “Editorial Team” last week said the controversy inflicted by the associate board “has limited the ability” of the team to manage the journal while upholding its standards. Scholz has withdrawn herself into the limited role of “shepherding on-going journal issues through the production process,” and Wilcox has resigned as book review editor:

It seems clear that a change of leadership structure at the Journal might create space to move forward not only at Hypatia but perhaps in feminist philosophy more generally. We have urged Hypatia’s Board of Directors to undertake comprehensive restructuring of the Journal’s governance structure to provide a suitable environment for the next editorial team and we understand that they have begun to do so.

The board of directors said in its own statement it was disappointed Scholz and Wilcox were resigning as editors, and accused the associate board of violating “publication ethics” through their apology letter for Tuvel’s article, which appeared to speak for Hypatia.

The violation was so serious the board of directors is suspending the authority of the associate board, which “damaged the reputations of both the journal and its Editors, Scholz and Wilcox, and has made it impossible for the Editors to maintain the public credibility and trust that peer reviewed academic journal editorship requires.”

In keeping with the request from the resigning editors, Hypatia is creating a task force to restructure the journal’s governance so that editors and publication integrity can be informed by “useful and diverse editorial advice” but not undermined by advisers, as the associate board did.

The board of directors said everyone involved in governance going forward will have to commit to Committee on Publication Ethics principles.

University of Chicago philosopher Brian Leiter wrote on his popular philosophy blog that Scholz, “unlike her Associate Editors, behaved professionally during this whole affairs.”

A supporter of Tuvel, Leiter said he didn’t know of any of the “miscreants” who harassed and defamed Tuvel ever having publicly apologized.

Read the editorial and board statements.

MORE: Sorry for comparing transgenders to Rachel Dolezal

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