The Telegraph U.K. reports that Bath Spa University initially approved a professor’s research grant to study “de-transitioning” transgendered individuals, but revoked the money after surprising early results in the study were deemed “politically incorrect” by the ethics committee.
“De-transitioning” is the term used to describe the process in which individuals operationally change their sex choice back to their biological sex after regretting a transgender reassignment surgery.
Professor James Caspian is a psychotherapist whose specialty is transgendered individuals.
In 2014, Caspian had a conversation with Professor Diroslav Djordjevic that sparked curiosity. Djordjevic is the “world-leading genital reconstructive surgeon.”
Djordjevic mentioned to Caspian interesting empirical evidence; his own surgeries that he preformed. Djoredjevic is convinced that the number of individuals who undergo sex change operations, regret their decision, and opt to change back to their biological sex is on the rise.
His patients come from all over the world, experience depression, and sometimes have suicidal thoughts, says the surgeon.
"It can be a real disaster to hear these stories,” says the 52-year-old.
Djordjevic practices strict guidelines to hopefully prevent individuals from regretting their sex change operation. He requires that his potential patients go through a rigorous psychological evaluation that lasts nearly two years. They also must provide two professional recommendations that show why the patient is making a safe and proper decision.
Other clinics, the doctor notes, do not practice this. Other places simply require a check.
“I have heard stories of people visiting surgeries who only checked if they had the money to pay,” he says. “We have to stop this. As a community, we have to make very strong rules: nobody who wants to make this type of surgery or just make money can be allowed to do so.”
His main fear is that the the medical community will soon deem it ethical to provide transition surgeries to minors.
“I’m afraid what will happen five to 10 years later with this person,” he says. “It is more than about surgery; it’s an issue of human rights. I could not accept [minors] as a patient because I’d be afraid what would happen to their brain and mind.”
With so little understood about the long term effects of sex change surgery, Professor Caspian wanted to understand the extent and reasons why patients decide to change back. Bath Spa University at first approved his funding request for this endeavor.
But, Professor Caspian’s study into this subject was defunded after the administration was afraid his findings would harm the university’s reputation in the transgendered community. Caspian said that,
"The fundamental reason given was that it might cause criticism of the research on social media, and criticism of the research would be criticism of the university. They also added it’s better not to offend people. University exists to encourage discussion, research, dissent even, challenging ideas that are out of date or not particularly useful.”
He added that the university told him,
"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. The posting of unpleasant material on blogs or social media may be detrimental to the reputation of the university.”
As the Telegraph piece notes, Bath Spa is potentially committing a dangerous mistake by shutting down his research.
As Professor Djordjevic explains, many transgendered individuals regret their decisions and contemplate suicide. Professor Caspian’s research could help prevent confused individuals from making a life altering decision that they are going to regret.