A British psychotherapist whose university banned him from studying cases of people who have surgery to reverse gender reassignment is taking his case to the European Court of Human Rights
The U.K. charity Christian Concern outlined the case of James Caspian, 61, a counselor with 10 years of experience in therapy for transgender people.
The dispute with Bath Spa University began in 2017. Represented by the Christian Legal Center, Caspian argues his freedom to pursue legitimate academic research has been breached and that he was targeted with discrimination.
“I have been faced with no alternative but to take this case to Europe. Too much is at stake for academic freedom and for hundreds, if not thousands, of young people who are saying that they are being harmed and often silenced by a rigid view that has become a kind of transgender ideology and permits no discussion,” Caspian said in a statement released by his lawyers.
“My preliminary research had revealed a growing controversial schism in transgender politics and inpatient experiences which greatly concerned me and confirmed the need for this research. Some of the people I spoke to said they were too traumatized to speak about their experiences, which proved it was even more important to research the issue, not less.”
Between 2007 and 2017, Caspian worked with patients who were medically transitioning, or considering medically transitioning, their gender. In 2013, he “began to see an alarming trend that patients were getting younger and there was a surge in the numbers of young women presenting with complex mental health issues,” Christian Concern said.
A growing number of patients “were regretting their transitions and surgery and wanted to detransition.”
He proposed, as part of a master’s degree program, to do research. Among his discoveries was that on the World Professional Association of Transgender Health internet forums any comment about detransitioning was immediately censored.
Nevertheless, his proposal, titled “An examination of the experiences of people who have undergone Reverse Gender Re-assignment surgery,” initially was approved by the university’s ethics sub-committee. Later, however, it was summarily rejected.
He was told by the university, according to Christian Concern, his potentially “politically incorrect” piece of research carries a risk to the university. University officers were concerned that criticism of him on social media “may not be confined to the researcher but may involve the university.”
“This needs to be assessed by the University Ethics Committee,” the university said.
“Working on a less ethically complex piece of research to complete the Masters would be more appropriate.”
Christian Concern said: “No other substantive difference existed between the proposal that Mr. Caspian had earlier had accepted and the re-submitted proposal which was rejected.”
Caspian said: “If a university – a place for the exchange of ideas, discussion, dissent, questioning, research and critical thinking – is unable to tolerate the risk of criticism, where then are left the most basic tenets of academic and intellectual freedom of enquiry? The implications for a democratic society of the suppression of information and discussion are deeply worrying”
Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said: “Over the past decade there has been a 3,000% spike in young girls and women being referred to Gender Identity Clinics. This is a phenomenon taking place in every Western nation with many regretting the life changing decisions they subsequently make. Why? That was the question James Caspian wanted to research.
“Yet in the current climate, anyone who attempts to research, explain and answer these questions is denounced and silenced. This is because the truth and the harm being done to many young people is devastating.”
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