By Rick Fitzgibbons, M.D., The Catholic Thing, June 28, 2017
The Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education recently issued an instruction stating that schools that fail to use transgender students’ “preferred names and pronouns” are committing harassment.
Harassment, according to the Trump Administration’s instruction, includes:
acts of verbal, nonverbal, or physical aggression, intimidation, or hostility based on sex or sex-stereotyping, such as refusing to use a transgender student’s preferred name or pronouns when the school uses preferred names for gender-conforming students or when the refusal is motivated by animus toward people who do not conform to sex stereotypes of a transgender student created a hostile environment.
This threat to teachers, teachers’ aides, and school administrators increases the risk of psychological and physical/surgical harm to young people. It completely ignores the medical and psychological literature on the serious risk factors associated with enabling youth to identify with a sex other than their biological sex determined by the genes in every cell of their bodies.
The Trump administration should pull away from the politically correct beliefs of the previous administration and examine carefully, with a new presidential task force if necessary, the psychological and medical science associated with attempts to help youth with transsexual attractions.
Members of such a task force could include Dr. Lawrence Mayer, professor of statistics and biostatistics at Arizona State University and a self-described liberal citizen who supports LGBQT rights, and Dr. Paul McHugh who was the psychiatrist-in-chief at John Hopkins University from 1975 to 2001.
Their 2016 research paper, “Sexuality and Gender: Findings from the Biological, Psychological and Social Sciences,” is an exhaustive review of the scientific literature concerning gender identity and sexual orientation. They examined over 500 scientific articles. Both doctors concur that neither sexual orientation nor gender identity is innate or immutable (no one is born gay or transgender, and both are fluid). Additionally, both doctors find no evidence to support encouraging children to identify as transgender.
Dr. Paul Hruz, a pediatric endocrinologist and an associate professor of cell biology and physiology at Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, led a 2017 research study, “Growing Pains: Problems With Puberty Suppression in Treating Gender Dysphoria,” that raises serious questions about the current treatment of children with gender dysphoria.
The report states:
Of particular concern is the management of gender dysphoria children. Young people with gender dysphoria constitute a singularly vulnerable group and experience high rates of depression, self-harm, and even suicide. Moreover, children are not fully capable of understanding what it means to be a man or a woman. Most children with gender identity problems eventually come to accept the gender associated with their sex and stop identifying as the opposite sex.
The report goes on, “In light of the many uncertainties and unknowns, it would be appropriate to describe the use of puberty-blocking treatments in children for gender dysphoria as experimental.” This new treatment has been offered to youth without the usual safeguards that govern the provision of experimental therapies, such as carefully controlled clinical trials, as well as long-term follow-up studies.
Dr. Kenneth Zucker, author and clinical psychologist, is another important, internationally recognized scholar on gender dysphoria who would be a valuable member of a presidential commission on the appropriate, safe treatment approach for these young people. He has worked for thirty years in this field and has written numerous papers in peer-reviewed journals on the origins and treatment of the many psychological conflicts in parents and in youth that give rise to transgender attractions. He is the co-author of Gender Identity Disorder in Children.
Dr. Zucker’s papers have described how he has helped many young people accept their biological masculinity or femininity. His group only recommended medical interventions when the psychotherapy was not successful. A recent BBC documentary, Transgender Kids: Who Knows Best?, presents his work and the current controversy surrounding approaches to youth with transsexual attractions.
Youth and their parents have the right to informed consent regarding transsexual attractions, including available treatment options, their remission in the majority of cases, and the serious psychological and medical risks associated with the use of experimental hormone use and transsexual surgery.
Two of the more important studies that should be discussed address the results of transsexual surgery. A 2015 study found that 180 transsexual teenagers (106 female-to-male; 74 male-to-female) had a twofold to threefold increase in risk of psychiatric disorders, including depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, self-harm without lethal intent, and both inpatient and outpatient mental health treatment compared to a control group (Reisner, S.L., et al., 2015).
The largest study of post-surgical transexuals was an analysis of over 300 people in Sweden over the past thirty years The study demonstrated that persons after sex reassignment, have considerably higher risks for mortality, suicidal behavior, and psychiatric morbidity than the general population (Dheine, C., et al. 2011).
If Donald Trump’s son approached him with the thought that he was a female trapped in a male’s body, the president would certainly want him to know all the psychological science related to such emotional attractions and confused and delusional thinking. And he would certainly not want teachers and counselors to follow the U.S. Department of Education guidelines that affirm delusional thinking and suggest addressing him with a female’s name.
A presidential commission on the pressure to accept a highly politicized transgender agenda is urgently needed to protect young people, families, and the culture. Meanwhile, the draconian Department of Education guidelines that totally ignore medical and psychological science and place vulnerable youth at risk should be withdrawn immediately.