The blogs might harsh their mellow

And then there’s the fact that a university is afraid of being called a TERF on social media.

A researcher has been refused permission to study cases of people who have surgery to reverse gender reassignment by a university that said it risked generating controversy on social media sites.

The proposal was rejected with an explanation noting that it was a potentially “politically incorrect” piece of research and could lead to material being posted online that “may be detrimental to the reputation of the institution”.

Many subjects are potentially “politically incorrect”; it seems like an excess of caution for a university to squeal “Ewww!” and refuse permission to research them.

James Caspian, a psychotherapist, who wanted to conduct the research for a master’s degree in counselling and psychotherapy at Bath Spa University, accused it of failing to follow “the most basic tenets of academic and intellectual freedom of enquiry”.

Mr Caspian, 58, a counsellor who specialises in therapy for transgender people, embarked on the research after speaking to a surgeon who had carried out operations to reverse gender reassignment surgery, as people came to regret their decision.

Why wouldn’t that be of interest? If being trans is of interest, if becoming trans is of interest, if coming out as trans is of interest, why isn’t changing the mind also of interest?

Are we deciding now that being trans is the only really worthwhile thing to be? That people who aren’t trans, or at least enby, are kind of missing the zeitgeist boat? Is “cis” really what it has always seemed to be, just another word for conservative and old and boring?

Caspian got permission on his first try but then had trouble finding willing subjects so he asked to change his proposal to seek women who had transitioned to men and reverted to living as women, but without reversing their surgery. At that point Bath Spa said no.

On the sub-committee’s rejection form, it said: “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.”

Under a section on ethical issues needing further consideration, it added: “The posting of unpleasant material on blogs or social media may be detrimental to the reputation of the university.”

So Twitter trolls are now making universities’ decisions for them. Awesome.

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