THE planned screening of the controversial film Adult Human Female at the University of Edinburgh has been cancelled for a second time.

A small number of transgender rights activists blocked the entrance to the building on Wednesday evening, which led the university to cancel the event as there was no way for attendees to access the Gordon Aikman Lecture Theatre.

Shereen Benjamin, a member of the Edinburgh Academics for Academic Freedom group who organised the event, told The National that she was “disappointed” at the cancellation.

“Once again we’ve been prevented from going forward with a legitimate and important discussion,” she said.

“I just don’t think that’s on. We’re a university, we should be about careful discussion of difficult issues and we shouldn’t be letting censorious bullies stop that.”

Some transgender students and staff had previously called on the university to cancel the screening, stating that the content of the film did not stand up to academic rigour and overtly questioned the legitimacy of transgender existence.

Edinburgh University’s Staff Pride Network had organised a peaceful protest against the film outside the lecture theatre alongside Cabaret Against The Hate Speech.

Co-chair of the network Katie Nicoll Baines told The National: “My understanding is that some students have been sat in-front of the doors to the lecture theatre since about midday blocking people from entering because they believe the screening shouldn’t happen.

“Those of us in the Staff Pride Network behind the scenes were very clear with management that we don’t think the screening should happen.

“We obviously felt limited in our ability to physically prevent the screening from going ahead so we chose to not block the doors or anything. We were just going ahead with our peaceful, non-confrontational protest.

“The university then told organisers that the screening was cancelled as there was no way to access the building.

“It’s just so clear that so many of us don’t believe that this film has merit as something that should be shown on an academic campus.

“The film is available on YouTube, if people want to watch it and talk about they can do so.

“However, the contents of it are deeply transphobic and, evidently, students don’t believe they should have a place within a civilised organisation like a university.”

At one point a women who wanted to attend the screening attempted to force her way into the building, pushing aside the barriers and denouncing those blocking the entrance as “impertinent little pipsqueaks”.

She said: “These people, these impertinent little pipsqueaks, are attempting to prevent the human rights of ordinary citizens. I’m appalled and jolly cross!”

Fraser Hudson, a 22-year-old student at the university who had intended to go to the screening, said it was a “complete destruction of free speech”.

“I know there’s a debate about free speech but when it’s educational I don’t see the issue.

“There’s always two sides to an argument that are valid but you need to be able to hear both sides.

“I’m sure you’ll hear a lot of these people [transgender rights activists] go on about democracy over and over again.

“But this right here is ignoring democracy. A breach of our right to do this is a breach of human rights.”

Tom Harlow of Cabaret Against The Hate Speech was also briefly confronted by prominent gender critical campaigner Elaine Miller, who pushed aside his sign and poked him in the belly.

He said: “The film itself is used as transphobic propaganda to push a narrative that trans women are danger to society and it demonises the community as a whole.

“Our side have not intimidated the other side at all. But we have had countless people taking photos of us, trying to start arguments with us.

“We even had the leader of the Scottish Family Party filming us.

“I’m just so glad that the community turned out today in huge numbers and outnumbered the hate and bigotry.”