AN OXFORD historian is embarked on a project to prove it is ‘essential’ that ‘sex’ is protected as the only legal definition of a woman.

Selina Todd is hoping to stop people from being allowed to choose their own gender under the Equality Act.

She warns that if people can legally change their gender it will make it impossible to collect viable data about differences between men and women in society, such as salaries.

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Her precise aims have been revealed after a Freedom of Information request for her funding application to Oxford University for the project.

Professor Todd’s campaigning study comes amid a growing international debate about whether transgender women should be given the same rights as those born as women.

Her project made headlines last year when it came to light that Oxford University paid a £20,000 consultancy fee to Woman’s Place UK for its ‘support research into women’s sex-based rights’.

This was the single-largest sum of money ever donated to the group .

The group has been the subject of much controversy over its views on transgender rights and was recently branded as a ‘trans-exclusionary hate group’ by the Labour Campaign for Trans Rights.

The funding application submitted in December 2019 by Prof Todd details what the project aims to achieve.

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It read: “To show that upholding ‘sex’ as a legal characteristic defining women, against those who wish to replace this part of the Act with ‘gender’ as a self-chosen identity, is essential if we are to collect and analyse vital sex-based data such as differences in males’ and females’ employment and pay.”

The academic, who has previously been criticised by Oxford University Student Union’s LGBTQ+ campaign for holding ‘anti-trans’ views and supporting Woman’s Place UK, is leading the project contributed to by the controversial group.

A spokesperson from the university’s history faculty said: “This externally-funded research project was about the role of sex-based rights and sex-based data in securing women’s social mobility.

“It represents one research-based intervention by a prominent Oxford historian in what we recognise is a delicate and contested area.”

The spokesperson also added that the history faculty supports original research across a ‘very broad spectrum’, which includes queer and trans histories.

Kiri Tunks, who co-founded Woman’s Place UK, commented on the goals of the project: “Sex is a protected characteristic enshrined in the Equality Act which defines ‘woman’ as ‘a female of any age’.

“Woman’s Place UK is delighted to have supported the research and publication of The Political Erasure of Sex which documents the process of policy capture across a range of institutions and the threat this poses to women’s sex-based rights.”