No regrets? UK university blocks ‘politically incorrect’ research into sex change reversal
James Caspian, a psychotherapist working with transgender people, wanted to write a thesis on “detransition” of transgender people back to their original sex as part of his master’s degree at Bath Spa University. While the school originally accepted his proposal on the controversial topic in 2015, the university’s ethics committee, apparently fearing a backlash from the LGBT community, rejected his research deeming it to be “potentially politically incorrect.”
The scientific community insists that further research must be done on people who reverse gender reassignment. “This is a completely new topic and I’m sure that we have plenty of persons who passed the whole transition who showed any type of regret. We have to research this more and more with only one aim – to prevent a mistake by following these persons before surgery,” Miroslav Djordjevic, a surgeon specializing in sex reassignment operations from the University of Belgrade, told RT.
Feeling trapped in the wrong body is sometimes deep-rooted in childhood trauma rather than any genetic disorder or psychiatric condition. Walt Heyer, who went from being a man to being a woman, before going back to male form, is also certain that more research is needed into “detransition” of transgender people. Heyer even consulted Caspian on his personal ordeal in dealing with his reversed decision on being a woman.
“James [Caspian] is on the right track. I think it is political,” Heyer told RT. “This whole transgender thing is built purely on feelings. There is absolutely no objective proof ... no medical proof ... and there is no proof that anyone benefits from the surgery over the long term.”
“There are a vast number of people who are detransitioning because they regret having changed their gender. They [university] are fearful of the truth coming out and this is their way of preventing research from being done,” Heyer told RT. “They really don’t want the truth … they are afraid of the GLBT which are so powerful that they will probably overwhelm the university.”
Caspian maintains that his research is important to the wellbeing of members of the transgender community. The psychotherapist started a crowdfunding campaign online to raise £50,000 to take the university to court for a Judicial Review. So far Caspian has received nearly £14,000 in donations from fellow academics and trans people who support his work.
“I challenged Bath Spa University’s recent refusal to allow me to research people who reverse gender reassignment, fundamentally on the basis that it might attract unpleasant comments on social media, despite having initially given me permission to do almost identical research,” Caspian writes on his donation page.
Originally Caspian wanted to file a lawsuit but instead filed an appeal in 2016 to continue with his research, having found evidence which suggested that a growing number of individuals regretted their gender reassignment. That appeal was once again rejected by the university after a full internal investigation into a complaint.
The university cited privacy concerns in rejecting the research proposal after RT reached out for a comment. In their ruling the university noted that the Office for the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education can still approve the topic after reviewing the complaint. OIA is an independent body set up to review student complaints against universities in England and Wales.
“Mr Caspian’s research proposal was not refused on the grounds of topic, but on the methodological approach,” Bath Spa University told RT in a statement. “The University was not convinced the approach would guarantee the anonymity of his participants and the confidentiality of data.”
Heyer, however, believes that Caspian’s research would only help people find themselves and save them from unnecessary surgery and a feeling of regret. “I have found out in my many years of working with transgender people that there is a groundswell of people detransitioning … people who after five, seven, twelve, fifteen and even twenty years they want to retransition back,” calling their original gender change “foolish” and “totally unnecessary.”
“This whole thing is just total foolishness and you want your life back. You want to live in reality and not in some surgically made transgender life,” Heyer explained. “You transition back and you take on a life of reality and you are much happier having done that.”