The Social Construction of Transgenderism By Mrs Vera West

     Dr Paul McHugh, who is a distinguished Service Professor at John Hopkins University and  former psychiatrist-in-chief for John Hopkins Hospital, has treated transgendered people for 40 years: http://www.cnsnews.com/blog/michael-w-chapman/johns-hopkins-psychiatrist-transgendered-men-dont-become-women-they-become. He has made news headlines in the US for arguing that in his professional opinion, “transgendered men do not become women, nor do transgendered women become men.” He has formulated his argument in a piece published at http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2015/06/15145/, and the title of the paper is: “Transgenderism: A Pathogenic meme,” which does not pull any punches.

     McHugh says: “first, though, let us address the basic assumption of the contemporary parade: the idea that exchange of one’s sex is possible. It, like the storied Emperor, is stark nakedly false. Transgendered men do not become women, nor do transgendered women become men. All (including Bruce Jenner) become feminized men or masculinized women, counterfeits or impersonators of the sex with which they “identify.”  In that lies their problematic future.

When “the tumult and shouting dies,” it proves not easy nor wise to live in a counterfeit sexual garb. The most thorough follow-up of sex-reassigned people—extending over thirty years and conducted in Sweden, where the culture is strongly supportive of the transgendered—documents their lifelong mental unrest. Ten to fifteen years after surgical reassignment, the suicide rate of those who had undergone sex-reassignment surgery rose to twenty times that of comparable peers.”

     The Swedish study, published at PLOS One, is here: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0016885. This is hardly a trivial matter and relates directly to the welfare of the person experiencing sexual identity issues. I am not qualified to comment on how best to proceed to help individuals with gender dysphoria issues. Here Professor McHugh has valuable insights about the need to move beyond the immediate recourse to surgery and hormones:

“What is needed now is public clamor for coherent science—biological and therapeutic science—examining the real effects of these efforts to “support” transgendering. Although much is made of a rare “intersex” individual, no evidence supports the claim that people such as Bruce Jenner have a biological source for their transgender assumptions. Plenty of evidence demonstrates that with him and most others, transgendering is a psychological rather than a biological matter.
In fact, gender dysphoria—the official psychiatric term for feeling oneself to be of the opposite sex—belongs in the family of similarly disordered assumptions about the body, such as anorexia nervosa and body dysmorphic disorder. Its treatment should not be directed at the body as with surgery and hormones any more than one treats obesity-fearing anorexic patients with liposuction. The treatment should strive to correct the false, problematic nature of the assumption and to resolve the psychosocial conflicts provoking it. With youngsters, this is best done in family therapy.
The larger issue is the meme itself. The idea that one’s sex is fluid and a matter open to choice runs unquestioned through our culture and is reflected everywhere in the media, the theater, the classroom, and in many medical clinics. It has taken on cult-like features: its own special lingo, internet chat rooms providing slick answers to new recruits, and clubs for easy access to dresses and styles supporting the sex change. It is doing much damage to families, adolescents, and children and should be confronted as an opinion without biological foundation wherever it emerges.
But gird your loins if you would confront this matter. Hell hath no fury like a vested interest masquerading as a moral principle.”

      In short, this issue appears to be one where the gender identity issue really is a psychological/social construction, which can in many cases be dealt with without medical intervention. Yet, strangely enough, a social identity issue has been reduced to a biological and surgical matter. This is very odd indeed. Well, maybe it is not, since all this is part of an on-going feminist revolution and is but the next step. Who knows where all of this will end; even Rome did not have this many problems in its twilight: https://www.amazon.com/Decline-Roman-Empire-Everymans-Library/dp/0307700763.

 

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Tuesday, 20 October 2020
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