CYBERSPACE—The Wall Street Journal usually screws up when its editorial page writers attempt to make a point about sex, especially since the venerable financial newspaper was bought by NewsCorp's Rupert Murdoch, but an article published June 12 by gay-bashing psychiatrist Dr. Paul McHugh, titled "Transgender Surgery Isn't the Solution," set a lot of people's blood boiling—and drew impassioned responses from such adult luminaries as Wendy Summers and Mia Isabella.
After noting that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services ruled that Medicare can pay for sex-reassignment surgeries for the elderly, that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said he was "open" to transgenders serving in the military, and that Time magazine had run a cover story deeming transgender rights to be "America's next civil rights frontier," McHugh went on to state, "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."
McHugh, a "University Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry" at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and former member of the United State Conference of Catholic Bishops' National Review Board—which should give anyone with a sane attitude about sex a few ideas about where this guy is coming from—believes that transgenders are simply deluded, confused and suffering from "a mental disorder that deserves understanding, treatment and prevention."
He compares transgenderism to "body dysmorphic disorder," an "often socially crippling condition, the individual is consumed by the assumption 'I'm ugly,'" as well as "anorexia nervosa patients," and dismisses the idea, which he claims transgenders hold, that "one's feeling of 'gender' is a conscious, subjective sense that, being in one's mind, cannot be questioned by others." Moreover, he claims that the recently (wrongly) convicted Chelsea Manning, formerly Pvt. Bradley Manning, wants to undergo sexual reassignment surgery because, "Facing long sentences and the rigors of a men's prison, they have an obvious motive for wanting to change their sex and hence their prison."
McHugh goes on to claim that ten years after surgery, "the transgendered began to experience increasing mental difficulties," and "Most shockingly, their suicide mortality rose almost 20-fold above the comparable nontransgender population."
"At the heart of the problem is confusion over the nature of the transgendered," McHugh concludes. "'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."
Fortunately, "those championing transgender equality," as McHugh refers to transgender rights activists in his article, have risen to the challenge, and the internet now has about a dozen refutations of McHugh by both transgenders, their supporters and sexual freedom activists of all stripes.
"Today it’s acknowledged that 1 in 1,000 births, a child is born with an intersex condition—their genitals are 'indeterminate'," noted TG actress Wendy Summers, a "data analyst, an adult entertainer and a philosopher." "Not quite a penis and not quite a vagina and usually it comes with a host of other medical issues. I raise this not to equate transsexuality to intersexuality—they are distinct conditions—but rather to raise the point that nature itself doesn’t seem to want to draw a perfectly clean line between the genders. How often do secondary sexual characteristics of women appear in men and vice versa? Binary gender is not biological fact, but rather a fact of social construct."
In other words, one's physical gender characteristics are most definitely not the whole story when it comes to one's personal perception of his/her (the pronouns don't exist for more choices) own gender—a reality that McHugh firmly rejects.
"On Dr. McHugh’s second point: that gender reassignment 'can lead to grim psychological outcomes'," Summers continues. "Let’s be clear: trans-folks who commit suicide after Gender Reassignment Surgery (GRS) aren't doing it because they wished they still had their birth genitals. GRS may help some transsexuals to find peace with their bodies, but it doesn’t help them find a job or overcome the prejudices of those around them. There’s a reason that the medical consensus is to provide GRS—it’s the best treatment option available."
McHugh had claimed that, "When children who reported transgender feelings were tracked without medical or surgical treatment at both Vanderbilt University and London's Portman Clinic, [70-80 percent] of them spontaneously lost those feelings"—a stance that sounds suspiciously like the excuse for why all explicit discussions and images of sex must be suppressed by mainstream society: "Think of the children!" as Summers calls it.
"He [McHugh] insinuates the transgender rights movement has scalpels at the ready and we’re prepared to neuter the children of tomorrow," Summers responds. "I cannot think of a credible transgender rights advocate who would suggest any sort of irreversible treatment for children. What is recommended is a safe, nurturing environment where the child can explore and discover who they are so when they are old enough they can make their own decisions regarding surgeries. ... The stress we face isn’t because we’re deficient, but rather because society is deficient."
A case in point: Just today, the American Family Association's "news" site published an article regarding a transgendered woman employee of "Christian corporation" Hobby Lobby who filed a discrimination claim with the Illinois Department of Human Rights because her employer refused to permit her to use the women's rest room—ostensibly because she still has a penis. It's such recalcitrance in the face of the employee's changed gender status that fuels activism among society's least-accepted gender.
Therefore, the answer isn't "conversion therapy," as McHugh advocates; it's a fundamental change in the way "polite society" looks at sex and all of the issues related to it.
"Imagine a world without gender," Summers asks. "Where a person is measured by the merits of their actions, the brilliance of their ideas and the compassion in their heart. In such a world, the concept of transsexuality wouldn’t exist—we’d simply beM… just like every other human being. But since we built our world’s social order with the binary gender concept ingrained throughout our institutions, you’ll need to understand that those of us who don’t fit neatly in those boxes are going to have a hard time making the system work smoothly. It’s stressful when you can be fired for simply being who you are, lonely when family members spew hate because you are different, and dangerous when folks advocate violence against you."
Well said, Ms. Summers!
Mia Isabella had similar reactions.
"Referring to true identified transgendered individuals as confused or under the wrong 'assumption' of their core selves is a blatant showcase of how so many look at the community as less than human beings...," Isabella writes. "[F]or those who are living their adult lives bold enough to be who they are knowing the backlash and limitations they must fight through every day based off their physical appearance that [McHugh's philosophy] is clearly betraying the affected person's sense of self, confidence, and inner emotional struggles surgery in various forms can absolutely have positive life changing effects where it concerns something as simple as depression and as complex as body dysmorphic disorder."
After noting that a UCLA assistant professor of hers, whom Isabella considers a "friend and mentor," "absolutely believed that true transsexual individuals did in fact contain the core essentials chemically and hormonally found in the opposite sex or identified gender and that conservative surgical changes after puberty [were] necessary in transitioning socially into adulthood, [t]he fact remains that different types of research done by different researchers will get different results is true when researchers have different agendas."
"Trans Activism at this stage is not just being led by those in political power but now by real trans people making their voices heard telling their stories that no person outside of the community can possibly represent without true life experiences. ... There have been major advancements in the LGBT community in the last decade yet the trans community itself has been constantly left out of the loop where specific details such as the basic human rights to use the restroom of a said person's identifying gender or obtaining employment without discrimination or laws that protect us from violent acts were before not taken into consideration. The time is NOW!" Isabella concludes.