Keogh is a 29-year-old mother of two and is in her final year in the law school. She was reported to the university by fellow classmates for her comments about women being less physically strong than men, which she made while specifically citing trans woman competing in mixed martial arts.
The complaints about her comments led to the university launching a formal investigation.
According to a story in The Times (U.K.), Keogh called women “the weaker sex” after saying a 32-year-old trans women would be stronger than other women due to years of increased testosterone in her body. The Times wrote Keogh also reportedly called her classmates “man-hating feminists” after another student said all men are rapists.
“I didn’t deny saying these things and told the university exactly why I did so,” Keogh told The Times. “I didn’t intend to be offensive, but I did take part in a debate and outlined my sincerely held views. I was abused and called names by the other students, who told me I was a ‘typical white, cis girl.’ You have got to be able to freely exchange differing opinions otherwise it’s not a debate.”
She continued, “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.”
Keogh has also claimed she was muted by the seminar’s lecturer when she raised safety concerns about trans women taking part in combat sports.
When she first received emails from Abertay classmates accusing her of transphobia, she “thought it was a joke,” she told The Times. Soon, when she learned an actual investigation was launched, she began fearing she would be expelled and not graduating, thus ruining her chances of becoming a lawyer.
The university’s misconduct policy states anyone guilty of “using offensive language” or “discriminating against gender reassignment” would be disciplined, with expulsion being the highest penalty.
Abertay University released a statement on the matter, which it shared on Twitter. It read, in part: “To be absolutely clear, freedom of speech within the law is not only permitted at Abertay but is strongly encouraged.”
A follow-up tweet from the school added: “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.”
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. 2/2
— Abertay University (@AbertayUni) May 15, 2021
Newsweek contacted Abertay University for further comment but had not heard back at the time of publication.