Academics have called for “adult dialogue” after the screening of a film which explores the faultlines in the gender debate was cancelled at a Scottish University for the second time. 

The Documentary Adult Human Female, which asserts that women are defined by their biological sex, was due to be shown at a lecture hall in George Square on Wednesday. 

But the university said protestors were restricting access to the venue and the event was cancelled on safety grounds. 

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A similar attempt to show the film in December was halted when protesters confronted audience members and occupied a screening room. 

Adult Human Female, made by independent filmmakers Deirdre O'Neill and Mike Wayne, is billed as an "explainer about the issues, how far things have already changed for the worse for women and how difficult it has been to be heard, to be listened to". 

Some university staff and student groups had called for the screening to be called off, claiming the documentary contained content that was "a clear attack on trans people's identities". 

Critics accuse it of being transphobic by denying that trans women have equality with biological women, and claim it puts forward unevidenced arguments. 

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However, a statement from the film directors said "there isn't an iota of hatred in our film". 

It added: "The accusation that the film is transphobic is designed to shut down debate. 

"It is really important that [the] screening goes ahead, because universities must be a place where disagreements can be discussed and different ideas held up to scrutiny." 

A spokesperson for Edinburgh Academics for Academic Freedom said the university now had to convene a meeting between both sides to “take the temperature down”, and facilitate a screening of the film. 

“We’ve asked many, many times to have a decent conversation about how we can go forward together,” she said. “My view is, we have a conflict of rights: what do you do when you have a conflict of rights? You have a reasonable discussion about how that is resolved. We should be having sensible, adult dialogue.” 

A University of Edinburgh spokesperson said: "We are disappointed that again this event has not been able to go ahead. 

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"In line with our commitment to fostering an inclusive, supportive and safe environment for our whole community, we worked with the organisers and put measures in place to mitigate risks associated with the event. 

"However, with protesters restricting access to the venue, safety concerns were raised should the event proceed. It was therefore decided that the screening should not continue." 

The Guardian reports that trans rights group Cabaret Against the Hate Speech organised a singalong outside the venue.  

The group’s spokesperson said they did not want the screening cancelled, but were implacably opposed to its positions. “Our goal was always to challenge it and make sure it was never going to be allowed to go unchallenged in society, because hate crime, transphobia and bigotry should never go unchallenged.”