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School Rejects Ex-Transgender Research: It Might Be 'Politically Incorrect,' Lead to 'Attacks on Social Media'

Over the weekend, a British university rejected a proposal for research on people who regretted undergoing transgender surgery, saying that it would be "potentially 'politically incorrect'" and might lead to "attacks on social media." Meanwhile, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently announced two $200,000 studies on transgender health.

Britain's The Times reported that Bath Spa University rejected a proposal from psychotherapist James Caspian, who is working on his master's degree at the school. He originally obtained partial permission to survey people who undertook reverse gender reassignment surgery (E.G. a biological woman who underwent surgery to become a man and then took another surgery to become a woman again). He was unable to find people to take part, and asked to amend the proposal to survey those who regretted their transition without reversing surgery.

The sub-committee rejected Caspian's proposal, writing, "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."

On a section discussing ethical issues, the sub-committee added, "The posting of unpleasant material on blogs or social media may be detrimental to the reputation of the university." The institution also warned that there could be risks to Caspian's own safety and well-being, and in ensuring the confidentiality of participants.

Caspian bristled at these suggestions. "In the language of psychotherapy, my ego is strong enough to withstand attack or criticism should I read it elsewhere than social media," he said.

The researcher attacked the university's position as antithetical to intellectual freedom and the spirit of what a university should be.

"That would mean that the university cannot withstand disagreement, argument, dissension," Caspian explained. "Where would stand the reputation of a university that cannot follow the most basic tenets of academic and intellectual freedom of enquiry?"

"I am more concerned about the potential impact of that stance on its reputation than I am about possible comments on social media," Caspian declared. This position comports with the ideal of open dialogue and free inquiry that forms the centerpiece of the very idea of a university.

Caspian has lodged a complaint with the university, and Bath Spa University told The Times that it was unable to comment while the complaint was being investigated.

This followed a recent announcement from the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) that it would spend $400,000 on two studies on transgender health. The agency announced that it will accept applications for transgender studies to begin next year.

"This funding opportunity announcement (FOA) calls for exploratory or developmental research on the health of transgender and gender nonconforming people," one grant announcement read.