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Brown University surrenders to the transgender mob

A professor gets tossed under the bus for LGBT politics

Lisa Littman did not know what she was in for. The assistant professor at Brown University was recently thrown under the bus by her employer for publishing a research paper on transgenderism. The paper itself was not critical of transgender ideology; it did not in the main constitute a “denial” of transgender “identity.” Rather, Littman was exploring a controversial and quantifiable phenomenon: instances in which “one, multiple, or even all of the friends [in a friend group] have become gender dysphoric and transgender-identified during the same timeframe.” There is deeply troubling evidence that these “outbreaks” of gender dysphoria are impelled in no small part by social media and a kind of passive peer pressure. To say that this topic is worthy of investigation is an understatement.

Brown University initially promoted Littman’s work—but then the transgender mob came along, furious that somebody, somewhere might challenge even the most troubling manifestations of transgenderism. That is generally how this works: You are not allowed to question anything about LGBT politics, especially where transgender identity is concerned. If dozen of young girls are lining up to surgically mutilate themselves and fill their bodies with synthetic testosterone, and if those girls are being encouraged to do so in no small part because of troubling social currents, well, tough luck—don’t ask questions about it.

So Brown folded, replacing its initial promotion of Littman’s paper with a simpering excuse, claiming that the matter was one of “concerns about research methodology” but also acknowledging the claims of activists that the research “could be used to discredit efforts to support transgender youth and invalidate the perspectives of members of the transgender community.” This is only half-true. Nobody is out to “discredit” LGBT politics and “invalidate perspectives” of transgender individuals simply for the fun of it. But if there is something wrong with transgender activism—as self-evidently seems to be the case with these young girls rushing to transform themselves into young boys—then shouldn’t such things be “invalidated?” Isn’t that the point of research?

That Brown University could be so ignorant and so cowardly on this matter does not speak well to the Ivy League university. Littman’s study, to be sure, is not flawless—its methodology could be better, for one—but “room for improvement” does not justify a university’s throwing one of its professors to the wolves. Let’s hope, in spite of this, that more academics are willing to investigate this critical issue, and that more universities are willing to stand by the research they produce.

MORE: Brown U. censors transgender study

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