Protect "Politically Incorrect" Academic Freedom
In 2017, an experienced psychotherapist, James Caspian, attempted to undertake a research project into the phenomenon of ‘detransitioning’, where men and women who have transitioned to another gender come to regret their decision and take steps to reverse the process.
But Bath Spa University rejected his research proposal on the grounds that it was ‘politically incorrect’ and ‘might cause offense’. The university’s ethics committee said it could result in criticism of the university on social media.
It is important to note that the university accepted his original proposal. It was subsequently rejected by the ethics committee after he attempted to expand his study to people who reversed their decision to 'transition' without necessarily undergoing surgical change. In other words, it was not on the grounds of the quality of his research that his proposal was rejected but only on political grounds.
Since then, Caspian has been fighting the university in the courts. The High Court recently rejected his bid for a judicial review on procedural grounds. He plans to appeal the decision.
There are a growing number of cases of people who ‘transition’ into becoming the opposite sex, some who take cross sex hormones and others who undergo surgery, but come to regret this change and ‘detransition’ to their original sex. Walt Heyer is among such people, but there are many other less high profile cases.
People who detransition are often side-lined by transgender activists because their actions are thought to undermine the political transgender movement.
It is deeply concerning that a respected and serious psychotherapist is unable to undertake important academic research due to concerns of political correctness. Not only is Mr Caspian treated unjustly, but we fail to learn more about an important personal and social phenomenon which might help us to better understand how to treat those people suffering from gender dysphoria.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission has recently released guidance on free speech in higher education. This document firmly supports academic freedom within universities. The Minister of the State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, Chris Skidmore MP, must do all within his power to assist Mr Caspian in battle with the university. He must take action to protect academic freedom and not merely endorse guidance.
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Protect Academic Freedom