Not unlike the issue of Common Core not too long ago, the transgender issue is taking entirely too much of my time and effort these days. Wait, who am I kidding? Common Core has not gone on away, is not going away, and could still be a source of topics for this blog every day if I let it. Since I have decided to move on from Common Core I probably need to do the same with the transgender mess, because I think I have made my position pretty clear by this point. Before I move on, though, I want to bring in one additional perspective, one that does not get much attention in the mainstream media. The reason for that, of course, is that it is not a popular position. But one mainstream media outlet did give voice to this position a few months ago–the Wall Street Journal, on June 12, published an opinion piece by Dr. Paul McHugh, the former psychiatrist in chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital. The piece was entitled “Transgender Surgery Isn’t the Solution,” with the subtitle “A drastic physical change doesn’t address underlying psycho-social troubles.” You need read no further to identify why this position is not a popular one. After all, any suggestion that gender identity confusion is related to psycho-social troubles will quickly get you relegated to the status of right wing extremist or intolerant wacko. (Some people would consider those two terms redundant). But McHugh was able to give voice to the facts about the transgender issue in a respected national publication, due no doubt to his credentials and experience.
He wasted no time getting to the point, either. After setting the stage in an introductory paragraph that referenced the decision that Medicare could pay for gender reassignment surgery, Chuck Hagel’s statement about being open to the idea of transgendered individuals serving in the military, and the issue of TIME devoted to the transgender issue, McHugh writes the following:
Yet policy makers and the media are doing no favors either to the public or the transgendered by treating their confusions as a right in need of defending rather than as a mental disorder that deserves understanding, treatment and prevention. This intensely felt sense of being transgendered constitutes a mental disorder in two respects. The first is that the idea of sex misalignment is simply mistaken—it does not correspond with physical reality. The second is that it can lead to grim psychological outcomes.
Clear, unequivocal language stating the reality of the situation! The feelings and confusion faced by transgendered individuals that are leading to policy changes and laws across the country are in fact the result, McHugh says, of a mental disorder. McHugh offers a comparison to anorexia and bulimia nervosa, calling all three “disordered assumptions” wherein the afflicted individual holds an assumption that is different from the physical reality. “For the transgendered, this argument holds that one’s feeling of ‘gender’ is a conscious, subjective sense that, being in one’s mind, cannot be questioned by others,” McHugh writes. “The individual often seeks not just society’s tolerance of this ‘personal truth’ but affirmation of it.” As I have written before, we can never allow rights to be granted on the basis of what someone feels or even has convinced themselves of. If someone wants to insist that they “feel” female when they are, in fact, male, there is nothing we can (or maybe even should) do to change that, but that individual cannot insist that everyone else recognize him as female and allow him to demand that he be treated as a female. That is because there is a reality that contradicts those feelings. Just as I said in yesterday’s post, there is an actual distinction between boy and girl! If anyone can demand anything based solely on the certainty of their feelings we will have to grant anything–we will have eliminated the possibility of saying that anything is wrong or unnatural and, soon, that anything is illegal.
Another very dangerous side effect of the transgender movement that McHugh highlights is the violation of parental rights. He explains that several states have passed laws “barring psychiatrists, even with parental permission, from striving to restore natural gender feelings to a transgender minor.” He further explains, “That government can intrude into parents’ rights to seek help in guiding their children indicates how powerful these advocates have become.” It is more than that, though. It indicates that those who have decided they know better are successfully removing the rights of those they have determined are wrong. Removing the right of a parent to seek counsel and treatment that they believe is in the best interest of their child(ren) is a serious and incredibly dangerous step to take. Historically speaking, it was not all that long ago that those who were determined to be right were allowed to restrict who could marry or who could reproduce, even going so far as forced sterilization of those not deemed good enough to procreate. Who would have thought we would be heading back in that direction early in the twenty-first century?
McHugh also highlights the fact that life-altering decisions are being made for and by young people who claim to be transgendered when, in reality, many of them will “outgrow” that feeling. “When children who reported transgender feelings were tracked without medical or surgical treatment at both Vanderbilt University and London’s Portman Clinic, 70%-80% of them spontaneously lost those feelings,” McHugh writes. Yes, that means some maintained those feelings, but clearly that was a distinct minority. Yet, young people are being given hormones and even having gender reassignment surgery when we are all well aware that teenagers go through many phases and change their minds on many matters as they grow and mature.
[T]here is the subgroup of very young, often prepubescent children who notice distinct sex roles in the culture and, exploring how they fit in, begin imitating the opposite sex. Misguided doctors at medical centers including Boston’s Children’s Hospital have begun trying to treat this behavior by administering puberty-delaying hormones to render later sex-change surgeries less onerous—even though the drugs stunt the children’s growth and risk causing sterility. Given that close to 80% of such children would abandon their confusion and grow naturally into adult life if untreated, these medical interventions come close to child abuse. A better way to help these children: with devoted parenting.
No one would allow a teenager, or a pre-teen, to make a permanent, binding decision about their political party, career path, hair color or anything else, let alone allow their parents to make such decisions for them, so why would we allow such decisions to be made when it comes to gender identity? McHugh reports that the findings of a 2011 study at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden indicate that individuals who have sex-reassignment surgery begin, around ten years after the surgery, to have a severely heightened risk of suicide (“20-fold above the comparable nontransgender population) as well as other mental difficulties.
McHugh boldly asserts that one of the biggest problems young people are faced with is a culture which encourages them to do whatever they want, to resist those who challenge or caution their feelings or choices and even to move away from the advice and counsel of their families if that advice and counsel does anything other than support the feelings they have. “‘Diversity’ counselors in their schools, rather like cult leaders, may encourage these young people to distance themselves from their families and offer advice on rebutting arguments against having transgender surgery. Treatments here must begin with removing the young person from the suggestive environment and offering a counter-message in family therapy,” McHugh writes. School personnel and counselors used to teach students to respect their parents and seek out their advice and guidance. Now they are more likely to teach students that mom and dad are wrong and should be ignored because they do not understand and are just trying to prevent the child from being him/herself. Yet again, we see those who have been deemed to be the wise ones being given authority that exceeds the God-given authority of the parents.
We need to encourage and support Paul McHugh and others who are bold enough to take this stand against the insanity that the anything-goes crowd is trying to force on the rest of us. The future of our children, our families and, therefore, our nation is literally at stake. We are seeing, all across the country, states lining up to grant “civil rights” for what is nothing more than a feeling at best, a mental disorder at worst. McHugh closes his opinion piece with a point-blank reality check, and I’ll close with it, too:
At the heart of the problem is confusion over the nature of the transgendered. “Sex change” is biologically impossible. People who undergo sex-reassignment surgery do not change from men to women or vice versa. Rather, they become feminized men or masculinized women. Claiming that this is civil-rights matter and encouraging surgical intervention is in reality to collaborate with and promote a mental disorder.