‘Brown University caving in to trans lobby threatens academic freedom’

Brown University was wrong in the way it handled complaints about a piece of research on transgenderism, the former Dean of Harvard Medical School has said.

Brown’s School of Public Health had promoted research by one of its faculty members into ‘rapid-onset gender dysphoria’ (ROGD), but then replaced that promotion with a disclaimer following backlash from trans activists.

ROGD is the term given to instances of teenagers suddenly expressing feelings of being “born in the wrong body”, despite never having experienced such feelings earlier in life.


Lead author Dr Lisa Littman’s research indicated that heavy exposure to social media content which extols the so-called benefits of gender transition is partially behind the phenomenon, as well as when a teenager’s friends identify as transgender.

Dr Jeffrey Flier, a Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor, denounced Brown’s decision to warn people about the potential dangers of the research.

Dr Littman’s critics seem “principally motivated by ideological opposition to her conclusions”
Dr Jeffrey Flier, former Dean of Harvard Medical School

Harvard Medical School’s former Dean explained the thorough and rigorous testing standards Dr Littman’s research must have passed before it was published as part of standard procedure.

He agreed that papers should face scrutiny after they are published, but added that it had not happened in this case.

Ideologically opposed

Instead, he said Dr Littman’s critics “have not performed any systematic analysis of her findings, but seem principally motivated by ideological opposition to her conclusions”.

Dr Flier continued: “In all my years in academia, I have never once seen a comparable reaction from a journal”.

“One can only assume that the response was in large measure due to the intense lobbying the journal received”, including the threat of a greater social media backlash if action were not taken.

He concluded by saying Brown University “must not allow any single politically charged issue – including gender dysphoria – from becoming the thin end of a wedge that gradually undermines our precious, hard-won academic freedoms.”

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