Research on people who have ‘detransitioned’ has been blocked by a university over concerns about it being politically incorrect.
Bath Spa University’s ethics committee feared the university would be attacked on social media.
James Caspian, the psychotherapist seeking to do the research, described the decision as astonishing and a betrayal of academic research values.
Caspian is a trustee of The Beaumont Trust, a group pursuing a “society where all gender diversity is valued and celebrated”.
For his latest research he wanted to study people who were now living in their birth sex after previously identifying as transsexuals.
The work was prompted by a surgeon telling him of ‘reverse gender reassignment’ operations he had recently performed.
But Bath Spa’s ethics sub-committee said: “Engaging in a potentially ‘politically incorrect’ piece of research carries a risk to the university. Attacks on social media may not be confined to the researcher but may involve the university.”
Caspian said that if universities reject pieces of work based on such fears, it would mean they “cannot withstand disagreement, argument, dissension”.
“Where would stand the reputation of a university that cannot follow the most basic tenets of academic and intellectual freedom of enquiry?”, he added.
The university is currently conducting a review of the decision.
Fear of abuse
Janice Turner, a columnist for The Times, criticised Bath Spa’s decision and noted a propensity to “label all academic inquiry as transphobic”.
“Since I’ve been writing about this subject, I’ve been contacted by doctors, psychotherapists and concerned transgender people themselves, desperate to speak out on the trans phenomenon but terrified to do so for fear of abuse or even losing their jobs.”
Last month, the Guardian reported on Elan Anthony who transitioned aged 19 to live as a girl, but returned to living as his birth sex aged 39. He warned that gender clinics are too quick to act in cases like his.
Change of mind
In January this year, a BBC documentary highlighted the dangers of endorsing the view that people can be ‘trapped in the wrong body’.
A woman known as ‘Lou’ told the story of how she had been pressured into taking puberty blockers, then sex change hormones, and finally major surgery aged 20.
“I was very much told by the community that if you don’t transition, you will self-harm and you will kill yourself. I became convinced that my options were transition or die”, she said.