Professor Sues University for Viewpoint Discrimination Involving Sex-Change in Children

By Alex Madajian | April 1, 2019 | 11:37am EDT

( - A conservative civil liberties group is suing the University of Louisville (Kentucky) on behalf of a child psychology professor who was demoted, then effectively fired, he says, for his view that young children should not undergo life-altering treatment for gender dysphoria.

The university hired Dr. Allan M. Josephson in 2003 to be the chief of the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychology. Since then, the lawsuit contends, he has turned the division around, boosting its national reputation.

But Josephson ran afoul of the University's LGBT Center in the fall of 2017, when he took part in a panel discussion at The Heritage Foundation on gender dysphoria in young children.

Josephson told the panel, “When you think of it, children don’t know much about anything — and I say this with respect — I’ve raised three…but they don’t know anything at the age of 7, 8, or 9. Why should we listen to a 9-year-old about what time they’re going to bed? We don’t let them vote, we don’t let them drive, and so are we going to let them at the age of 8 or 9 decide they are no longer male or female? Unbelievable!”

Shortly after the Heritage Foundation posted a video of the panel discussion, the defendants, including officials at the University’s LGBT Center, allegedly retaliated against Josephson for expressing those views, "even though he did so on his own time and off-campus," the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit says Josephson was "wrongly hostile” to the treatment of patients experiencing gender dysphoria.

Rather than prescribing puberty-blocking medications and cross-sex hormones for young people who identify as another gender, Josephson advocates a go-slow approach. As the lawsuit put it: "In actuality, Dr. Josephson never refuted the existence of gender dysphoria; he simply advocated a different method for treating individuals experiencing it."

The lawsuit lays out Josephson's position that young people experiencing gender dysphoria "must always be affirmed as a person, but this does not mean that parents or medical professionals should affirm their desire to become a member of the opposite sex before the issues are explored."

Josephson, according to the lawsuit, has warned that trying to change one's sex "often involves permanent social, medical, psychiatric, and other consequences that cannot be fully appreciated until adulthood (e.g., psychopathology, suicidal behavior, peer rejection, and permanent sterility)." And he noted that some children and youth who experience gender dysphoria will cease to experience it by late adolescence.

Josephson recommends individual therapy as a first step, rather than quick affirmation of a child's belief that they were born in the "wrong body," and he says parents also should receive guidance in helping children feel more comfortable with their biological sex.

In February, Josephson was informed that the University would not renew his contract once it expired on June 30, 2019.

"Public universities have no business demoting or firing professors simply because they hold a different view than their colleagues or the administration, but that’s exactly what’s happened here,” said ADF Senior Counsel Travis Barham.

The lawsuit, Josephson v. Bendapudi, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky, challenges the university’s actions as violations of Josephson’s freedom of speech and other constitutionally protected freedoms. It explains how officials took these actions “with an eye to ensuring that neither he nor anyone else dares to express viewpoints they find objectionable on medical and psychiatric issues.”

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