A psychotherapist who was refused permission by Bath Spa University (BSU) to study cases of people who have surgery to reverse gender reassignment is taking his case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
James Caspian, 61, a counsellor and registered psychotherapist with 10 years of experience specialising in therapy for transgender people, was told that researching a non-politically correct topic for a Masters dissertation could attract criticism and was undesirable.
Since he launched legal action against BSU in 2017, UK courts have refused to hear his case, leaving him with no alternative but to appeal to Europe, according to the Christian Legal Centre, which is supporting his case.
Mr Caspian’s lawyers argued Mr Caspian exhausted domestic remedies to have his case heard, that his right of access to court has been violated, his freedom to pursue legitimate academic research has been breached, and that the basis of the decision to interfere with his academic freedom discriminated against him.
Between 2007 and 2017, Mr Caspian worked with patients who were medically transitioning, or considering medically transitioning, their gender. In 2014, Mr Caspian enrolled in a part-time Masters in counselling and psychotherapy at BSU.
In 2015 he was given permission to carry out his research proposal, entitled: An examination of the experiences of people who have undergone reverse gender reassignment surgery.
But during his preliminary research, Mr Caspian discovered people were saying they regretted their treatment and had reversed or wanted to reverse their transition. Based on this, he decided to amend his research topic to include case studies of individuals who had reversed transition without necessarily reversing their surgery.
He informed his tutor, and was told he would need to re-apply to the University Ethics Sub-Committee who would need to reconsider his slightly amended research proposal. On 15 November 2016, Mr Caspian was informed his revised research proposal had been rejected. His subsequent appeal was also rejected.
The sub-committee stated, ‘Engaging in a potentially ‘politically incorrect’ piece of research carries a risk to the University.’
In January 2017, Mr Caspian requested a refund on his course fees, but this was also refused. The following month he launched legal action.