The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) filed a lawsuit against the University of Louisville on behalf of Dr. Allan M. Josephson. The suit asserts that Josephson was harassed, demoted and then effectively fired after speaking about gender confusion in children and youth at a Heritage Foundation symposium and as an expert witness in legal cases.

Josephson’s presentations ran afoul of current transgender activists who say all children who claim to be the opposite sex must be believed. According to current ideologically-based protocols, these children should first be allowed to live as the opposite sex – known as “social transitioning.” As they approach puberty, they should be given puberty blockers, then given opposite sex hormones, and finally, treated with body-altering surgeries.  

Josephson, on the other hand, believes “children are not equipped psychologically to make many important life decisions” – including the decision to live as the opposite sex and take powerful medication and hormones. Dr. Michelle Cretella, who spoke alongside Josephson at The Heritage Foundation symposium, says, “Administering cross-sex hormones raises the risk of cardiac problems, stroke, diabetes, and various cancers, as well as depression, anxiety, and sterility. They are not benign medications.”

Josephson became a medical doctor in 1976 and was certified as a psychiatrist in 1982. The author and co-author of more than 42 articles and 24 books or book chapters, he had served more than thirty-five years at three state universities and never been the subject of any disciplinary action. He was hired in 2003 to head the University of Louisville’s Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychology. ADF says he received excellent evaluations and “turned the division around, building a program that now has a national reputation.” 

In addition to his work for the university, Josephson also provided expert testimony in a number of court cases about gender-confused children and youth who reject their biological sex and believe they are the opposite sex. In 2016, he testified in a case involving North Carolina’s HB-2, a statewide privacy and safety law that required people to use restrooms and changing rooms that aligned with their biological sex – male or female. According to ADF, Josephson’s testimony included some of the following key ideas about gender dysphoria:

  • “Sex is fixed in each person at the moment of conception, immutable, based on objective genetic facts, and binary.”
  • Gender identity is a “social construct… and is culturally and societally influenced.”
  • “Research shows that 65% to 95% of children and youth who experience gender dysphoria will cease to experience it by late adolescence.”
  • “Thus, youth experiencing gender dysphoria should receive individual therapy to understand the factors that fuel their desire to become a member of the opposite sex and attempt to resolve any conflicts… and “receive empathic guidance in aligning their feelings with their biological sex.”

In 2017, Josephson spoke at the panel at The Heritage Foundation, where he said that “gender dysphoria is a socio-cultural, psychological phenomenon, and cannot be fully addressed through medicine and surgery. Using these methods raises concerns that the real issue is not being treated.” He went on to say, “When someone complains of pain, medical professionals generally seek to understand what causes the pain. When that inquiry is not allowed in the gender dysphoria context, the well-being of children is short-circuited, preventing us from diagnosing pain accurately, and an opportunity for developmental progress is missed.”

But Josephson ran afoul of transgender ideology and activists. ADF says that a few of his colleagues – alerted by officials at the university’s LGBT Center – opposed and objected to his views. They demanded that the university take disciplinary action. He was demoted, treated in a hostile and belittling manner, and given assignments usually given to those without his seniority. Finally, the school announced it would not renew his contract. 

ADF Senior Counsel Travis Barham says, “Universities are supposed to be a marketplace of ideas, but the University of Louisville is turning itself into an assembly line of one thought.” ADF’s lawsuit alleges that the university engaged in viewpoint discrimination, violated Josephson’s right to due process and infringed on his First Amendment right to free speech. 

For more on children and gender confusion:

Counseling for Sexual Identity Concerns: A Measured, Careful, and Compassionate approach – A Focus on the Family statement regarding professional therapies.

Helping Children with Gender Identity Confusion – This question-and-answer document offers guidance for parents or family members faced with questions about gender confusion in a child they know and love. 

When Transgender Issues Enter Your World – This free, downloadable resource offers guidance for how to respond well when transgender issues affect your child’s school, your private space, or your family.