Retired Leeds University professor criticised for sending anti-trans film to schools

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A retired professor from the University of Leeds has been criticised after sending an anti-trans film called ‘The Transgender Agenda’ to every primary and secondary school in the country. 

The film was sent to schools by Andrew McIntosh, an emeritus professor in Thermodynamics and Combustion Theory at the University of Leeds. 

McIntosh says the film is a “scientific and compassionate response to an ideology that cannot be supported by science“. He says it represents the “voices of professionals who are deeply concerned about how vulnerable children are being subject to an unregulated live experiment”. 

The film argues that the idea that a “woman can be trapped in male body or vice versa is not supported by evidence-based science”. It also raises concerns about children who’s gender identity doesn’t match their biological sex, fearing that they have been influenced by social media to take permanent action which they may later regret.

The claim that transgenderism is not evidence-based is itself incorrect as there is scientific consensus that sex is more complex than male and female and that gender is a spectrum that includes transgender and non-binary people. 

An analysis of appointments at an NHS Gender Identity Service clinic also disproves the idea that large numbers of trans people regret their decision to transition. It shows that between 2016 and 2017 less than one per cent of patients said that they had experienced regret about their transition.

McIntosh retired from the School of Chemical and Process Engineering in 2014 and is currently the director of the organisation Truth In Science, which produced the film. 

Truth In Science is a pseudoscientific Christian organisation which has previously campaigned against the teaching of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution in schools.

In November 2006, the University of Leeds distanced itself from McIntosh, saying in a statement: “Professor Andrew McIntosh’s directorship of Truth in Science, and his promotion of that organisation’s views, are unconnected to his teaching or research at the University of Leeds in his role as a professor of thermodynamics. As an academic institution, the University wishes to distance itself publicly from theories of creationism and so-called intelligent design which cannot be verified by evidence.”

Although McIntosh is no longer a serving professor, he holds the honorary title of emeritus professor. This title is awarded by the Vice-Chancellor to retired professors to recognise their contribution to their field of study and to the university. It is a prestigious award which is not automatically granted upon retirement. It is expected that emeritus professors will continue to serve the university by participating, on a voluntary basis, in a variety of activities for the institution. 

Image Credit: Twitter

In September 2020, relationship education lessons became compulsory in primary schools in England. These lessons controversially include content on gay and transgender relationships. 

Colin Hart, the director of Christian Insitute, a pressure group which promotes a fundamentalist Christian viewpoint, said: “primary-aged children are far too young to be learning about the radical political agendas being promoted by homosexual and transgender lobby groups”. Last year, at Parkfield Community School in Birmingham, hundreds of parents withdrew their children from school to protest against LGBT+ lessons that they argued were incompatible with Islam.

Chris Minas, the Leeds University LGBT+ society Trans Welfare Officer, told The Gryphon: “It’s misleading to talk about teaching children about trans people in the context of whether it should be “compulsory” or not – it should be no more compulsory than teaching kids that some people are from different countries or some people have peanut allergies. Teaching kids about the existence of trans people as human beings with feelings and dignity is not some lefty agenda, it’s basic practise in teaching kids about the world.”

“We also need to move away from framing trans issues as something separate to the rest of society; trans people are your teachers, parents, uncles, aunts, friends, neighbours, we vote and do our tax returns like every other normal, boring member of society – chances are there’s plenty of kids who know trans people, theres plenty of trans adults who are parents to small children, we are regular people who have every right to exist in the same spaces that cisgender people do.”

Teachers across the country reacted to receiving the film from McIntosh on Twitter. 

Michael Tidd, the headteacher of a primary school in Sussex, wrote: “Worth looking out for ‘The Transgender Agenda’ DVD being delivered to every school. It looks like it’s trying to be helpful, but it is actually produced by an apparently Christian group opposed to the teaching of evolution.” 

Jane Scarsbrook, who is the headteacher of a primary school in London, said she “was initially confused and then very suspicious” about the film. She questioned who had funded the project.

Melissa Law-Huds, a teacher in Norfolk, wrote that she was “really disappointed and concerned” about the DVD. She said her “biggest concern is that people are going to use the ‘resource’ without doing their research.”

Chris Minas said that the “barrage of anti-trans vitriol in the British media” is exhausting enough as it is, so they wouldn’t allow the actions of every single transphobic person, Andrew McIntosh included, to consume their thoughts.

“The best way to deal with this issue, in my opinion, is to let transphobic staff fade into the background like the sad, irrelevant little people that they are. For every one Andrew McIntosh there are 10 amazing teaching and technical staff at the university that will stand in solidarity and support the beautiful trans community, and I am sick of wasting my mental energy on fighting for something I will never win when I can uplift my trans siblings instead.”

The University of Leeds did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Image Credit: Andrew Mcintosh