Expelled from my university course for holding gender critical views

by James Esses

Expelled from my university course for holding gender critical views

by James Esses
James Esses
Case Owner
I am a trainee therapist who was expelled from a university course over email for launching a public petition trying to safeguard therapy and counselling for vulnerable children with gender dysphoria.
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James Esses
Case Owner
I am a trainee therapist who was expelled from a university course over email for launching a public petition trying to safeguard therapy and counselling for vulnerable children with gender dysphoria.
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Latest: Sept. 11, 2021

Claim Lodged: Litigating against Metanoia, and the UK Council for Psychotherapy

Thanks to the overwhelming support I received from my original crowdfunding, my lawyers have now been able to draft and lodge my claim. My lawyers are Akua Reindorf, who wrote the Reindorf review int…

Read more

Summary

My name is James Esses. In May 2021, I was three years into a five-year MSc course, training to become a therapist.  One day, without warning, I received an email from my course provider - Metanoia Institute (accredited by Middlesex University) - expelling me from the course.

The reason for my expulsion was that I had been trying to safeguard therapy and counselling for vulnerable children with gender dysphoria. I had lodged a public petition, which subsequently got 10,000 signatures and a response from the government, who agreed to many of the safeguards I had been seeking. The petition caused a social media backlash against me and culminated in my expulsion. My course provider needlessly publicised the expulsion on social media. I worry that this has therefore ended my career in my chosen profession before it has even begun.

This was done to me because I hold gender critical beliefs: that sex is biological and immutable.  This is particularly relevant in the field of psychotherapy because individuals with gender dysphoria need to be treated in a balanced and holistic way.

For some, gender reassignment will be the appropriate treatment.  For others, it will not. Careful and appropriate talking therapy allows each individual properly to explore underlying causes and options for their care. This is the approach that therapists pursue for every other mental health condition, and it should be no different for gender dysphoria.

The petition, and related campaigning that I have been engaged in, sought only to recognise this. I sought to prevent an approach advocated by gender theory advocates, whereby therapists would be required, on pain of criminal punishment, to solely affirm gender dysphoric clients into their identified gender. This would have caused huge damage to an untold number of vulnerable gender dysphoric individuals, especially children, for whom irreversible hormonal and surgical intervention may not be the appropriate treatment.

My course provider is an organisation which ascribes to gender theory. As a consequence of this, when they saw the social media backlash against my petition, they expelled me in a single email. I had no right of appeal, no explanation of what I had done wrong, and no opportunity to set out why my actions were justified. 

I am crowdfunding to pay for legal representation to take my case to court. Primarily, the case is about the significant damage to me on a personal level.  However, if successful, I believe the case will also go a significant way to ensuring that no student suffers in the same way that I have done, protect the ability of therapists to treat clients professionally and according to their needs and demonstrate the legal protections which underpin freedom of speech and freedom of belief regarding sex and gender. No one should be punished for exercising their freedom of speech, especially when their goal is to protect children.

Please donate to support my case and share with family, friends and colleagues. 

Who am I

I was formerly a criminal defence barrister before moving into the civil service to work in the field of crime and criminal justice. Over the years, I have worked in a number of policy areas, including protecting children who have suffered sexual abuse and exploitation.

I decided that I wanted to help those struggling the most in life and took a decision to change career and re-train as a therapist. At the time of my expulsion, I was about to complete the third year of a five-year MSc.

I had volunteered as a children’s counsellor for the last 6 years. I have also lost that post as a result of my beliefs.

My story

Over the years, I found myself counselling more and more children of younger and younger ages struggling with gender dysphoria. I immersed myself in literature and research on the topic and was shocked and horrified with what I found in terms of the impact that puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones and surgical intervention were having on vulnerable children. I also discovered around the world laws being created which could criminalise therapists who did anything other than affirm transitioning with their clients.

As a result, I co-founded a group of therapists called 'Thoughtful Therapists'. Our aim was to focus on therapeutic interventions to support those struggling with their gender. We began to campaign against policies and legislation which prevent therapists from working in an open and explorative way with children and mandate affirmation of transitioning.

Just four weeks after launching the petition mentioned above we had received 10,000 signatures of support; a threshold that required the government to respond directly to us. I also wrote a number of articles on this topic, was featured in the Daily Telegraph and engaged in a variety of interviews to raise public awareness.

On the day I received the email from my course provider, telling me that I was expelled with immediate effect, I discovered that my university email address was immediately blocked, as was my access to my student portal. I was never provided with the grounds or evidence for expulsion. I was never provided with justification for why I received the same sanction as someone who had committed a physical or sexual assault on campus. Not once was I provided with an opportunity to put forward my side of the story in writing or in person. Not once was I offered a chance to appeal.

The evening of my expulsion, I discovered that they had publicised on Twitter the fact they had expelled a student. It was abundantly clear, particularly given certain comments on the Tweet itself, that this student was me. My professional standing has therefore been irretrievably and grievously damaged before I have even qualified. The effect of expelling me, and then needlessly publicising this, has therefore been to prevent me from pursuing a career that I have already spent three years studying towards.

This entire ordeal has also had a significant impact on my own mental health and wellbeing.

The case

The case I am bringing against Metanoia is for the discrimination that I have faced for my gender critical beliefs.

I hope that the outcome of this case will ensure that students in the future do not suffer the same and that universities learn that they cannot unlawfully discriminate against those who are critical of gender theory.

What’s happening now?

In May, my solicitor wrote to Metanoia, setting out their breaches of the law, and asking them to respond with an explanation within 28 days.  They instructed prominent solicitors to prepare their response.  It took them over 2 months to provide an initial response.

My initial funding target will enable me, in the first instance, to instruct Counsel and plead my claim.

My lawyers

My solicitor is Peter Daly, a partner at Doyle Clayton, who specialises in gender critical cases.  He is also acting for Maya Forstater, Allison Bailey, Raquel Rosario Sanchez, Katie Alcock and others. 

My barrister is Akua Reindorf of Cloisters Chambers.  She is an eminent discrimination lawyer and judge, and wrote the recent report into the ill-treatment of gender critical feminists by Essex University.

Thank you in advance for your support.

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Update 2

James Esses

Sept. 11, 2021

Claim Lodged: Litigating against Metanoia, and the UK Council for Psychotherapy

Thanks to the overwhelming support I received from my original crowdfunding, my lawyers have now been able to draft and lodge my claim. My lawyers are Akua Reindorf, who wrote the Reindorf review into the treatment by Essex University of its gender critical staff, and Peter Daly of Doyle Clayton Solicitors, who acted for Maya Forstater in the appeal that established gender critical beliefs such as mine as being protected from discrimination. 

My claim is in the Employment Tribunal, because both of the Respondents provide workplace qualifications. These are litigated in the Employment Tribunal because of section 53 of the Equality Act 2010. 

The First Respondent is Metanoia. The acts of discrimination I am litigating are set out in my original crowdfunding page. 

The Second Respondent is UKCP, the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy. This is the main registration body for councillors and psychotherapists in the UK. These are not regulated professions, so they don’t have a regulator in the same way that Doctors have the General Medical Council, or solicitors have the Solicitors Regulation Authority. But UKCP is in many ways a quasi-regulator, because registration with the UKCP (or one other counterpart) is required in order to qualify formally as a counsellor or psychotherapist. 

It has come to light in Subject Access Request responses that UKCP were far more involved in Metanoia’s actions towards me than I had previously realised. Metanoia were liaising with UKCP, who were putting pressure on Metanoia in how they dealt with me. My claim is therefore also against UKCP, on the basis that its actions instructed, caused or induced Metanoia’s discrimination against me, as well as those actions being discriminatory against me in their own right. As with Metanoia, I am litigating against UKCP on the basis that it is a qualifications body, but also on the basis that it is a Trade Association – both of these are within the Employment Tribunal’s jurisdiction under the Equality Act 2010. 

This is, as far as I am aware, the first claim for gender critical belief discrimination brought against a registration body or quasi-regulator like UKCP. This is therefore an important case because it will have relevance for other regulators and other regulated professions. 

The addition of UKCP as a second respondent has increased the scope of the claim quite significantly. As well as having increased the work that was required in pleading the claim, having a second respondent will also increase the amount of work required to bring the matter to trial, and the length of the trial itself. I am therefore increasing my stretch target to £80,000 to take this into account. We cannot yet know how much work will be required to bring this matter to a conclusion, because we have not yet seen either Respondent’s pleadings, and therefore cannot know how they will defend the case, but the increased stretch target represents a realistic conversative estimate of the full costs of the case. I am incredibly grateful for the support I have already received. I hope you will be able to continue supporting me.

Update 1

James Esses

Aug. 6, 2021

Thank You and Next Steps

Dear Supporters,


Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. Without your kindness and generosity, I would not even have this opportunity to seek justice.


To have reached £50,000 in less than 5 days is testament to the strength of feeling that exists in relation to safeguarding children, upholding women’s rights and protecting freedom of speech.


In fact, the messages of support I have received have been even more warming than the generous financial donations.


In terms of immediate next steps, we are in the process of instructing Counsel and I will be having a conference with my legal team, which will enable us to decide our plan of action, prior to formally commencing proceedings.

I will of course keep you all updated throughout this entire process, particularly when we hit certain key milestones.


Although I have reached my initial target, the road to litigation can be unpredictable and it is feasible I may need to raise more going forward. Therefore, I may at some point increase the stretch target. Regardless, may I please ask that you continue to publicise and support my case to ensure that this can be fought all the way.


Thank you all again.


Take care, 


James

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