On June 12th, The Wall Street Journal posted an article stating that “Transgender Surgery Isn’t the Solution” and that there are underlying psycho-social troubles that need to be addressed such as body dysmorphic disorder rather than allowing Trans identified people to undergo reassignment surgery. The article sites the work of Dr. Paul McHugh and claims that this issue is not a civil-rights matter and by accepting surgical intervention as one supported by health care, society is in reality promoting a mental disorder.
Read the full article HERE.
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. Where the argument of Catholic conservative Dr. McHugh formerly of Johns Hopkins and his article “Transgender Surgery Isn’t the Solution A drastic physical change doesn’t address underlying psycho-social troubles” is concerned I will agree. However for those who are living their adult lives bold enough to be who they are knowing the backlash and limitations they must fight through everyday based off their physical appearance that is clearly betraying the affected persons 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.
QUOTE FROM HIS ARTICLE: “With body dysmorphic disorder, an often socially crippling condition, the individual is consumed by the assumption “I’m ugly.” These disorders occur in subjects who have come to believe that some of their psycho-social conflicts or problems will be resolved if they can change the way that they appear to others. 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. The individual often seeks not just society’s tolerance of this “personal truth” but affirmation of it. Here rests the support for “transgender equality,” the demands for government payment for medical and surgical treatments, and for access to all sex-based public roles and privileges.
This quote alone seems to stem from the point of an Elitist passing his own money as if this movement is a welfare program and trans people are standing in line asking for a hand out. That is simply not the case! Before we are trans, we are human and we are citizens of the greatest nation on earth, America and it is our born right as it is all others in this country as the Declaration of Independence states: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
While my friend and mentor Dr. Kaleita of UCLA Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Bio-behavioral Sciences, Psychiatry Researcher, Department of Neurology had a great impact in my development when it came to education and we attended many medical galas functions and philanthropy trips to broaden my views on the world regarding issues he passionately believed in, didn’t feel a decade ago that medical advancements concerning hormone therapy and surgical operations regarding sexual reassignment had reached a pinnacle of success. He 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 where necessary in transitioning socially into adulthood.
The fact remains that different types of research done by different researchers will get different results when those 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. Geena Rocero, Laverne Cox and Janet Mock, for example are being seen as faces and voices of the community allowing not just a medical researchers point of view but a true glimpse into the lives of people like us.
The argument it seems presented in his article presents no real facts on the modern day trans-gendered person yet uses his failed attempt and program back in the 70′s to argue that due to the lack of medical knowledge and advancements during the era of his research modern day efforts, education and political advancement regarding our community should be seen as obsolete and not to be taken seriously. Dr. McHugh explains his research at Johns Hopkins in the 1970s showing poor outcomes from transgender surgeries which is why he shut down his program in 1979.
The outcry seen here in his article seems to be a mob mentality effort at opposition which is the exact reason why President Obama and his administration have been creating these sweeping changes politically without fan fare or major media coverage as to no further procrastination in laws concerning medical, educational and political rights that are just as much our entitlements as EVERY other American citizen. 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 persons 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!
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By trade, I’m a data analyst, an adult entertainer and a philosopher. While I hardly live a normal life, it is a well-adjusted and pretty darn good one. So when I read an article like Dr. McHugh’s, I get the heebie-jeebies. I’ve heard this song before. I have no doubt he is sincere in his position. But for as sincere as he is, he is equally misguided.
Dr. McHugh builds his argument on a foundation of sand: he argues that “sex misalignment…does not correspond with physical reality” and “that it can lead to grim psychological outcomes.”
Let’s look at his first argument: “sex misalignment…does not correspond with physical reality”. He’s stating that we live in a world of the gender binary. As the classic Arnold Schwarzenegger film, “Kindergarten Cop” taught us: “Boys have a penis, and girls have a vagina.”
Except THAT’S not the whole story. Today it’s acknowledged that 1 in 1,000 births, a child is born with an intersex condition — their genitals are “indeterminate”.
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.
On Dr. McHugh’s second point: that gender reassignment “can lead to grim psychological outcomes.” 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.
What scares me is the alternative which Dr. McHugh proposes is a long discredited theory: conversion therapy. This speaks to what the core of this battle is truly over. Dr. McHugh attempts to spin a narrative which denies that transgender rights is simply another skirmish in the long running battle against the social construct of the gender binary. This civil rights progression began with the rise of feminism and women’s rights to the gay and lesbian struggles since Stonewall to the now growing support for transgender rights. It’s telling that conversion therapy and all the same old arguments are being trotted out again for this horse and pony show.
Dr. McHugh invokes my personal favorite: think of the children! He insinuates the transgender rights movement has scalpels at the ready and we’re prepared to neuter the children of tomorrow. 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.
Dr. McHugh tries to say it’s a mental illness within us which makes us different and causes the stress transsexuals feel; he is mistaken The stress we face isn’t because we’re deficient, but rather because society is deficient.
Imagine a world without gender. 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 trans-sexuality wouldn’t exist – we’d simply be… 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.
ONE FINAL, MORE PERSONAL NOTE: I’ve struggled against anorexia, Dr McHugh. During puberty at the age of 12, I developed breasts. Despite being significantly underweight, both my parents and my doctor told me I was fat — That lead to a lifelong battle with my body image regarding weight. Anorexia is NOT transsexuality. One I will fight to my dying breath to not succumb to it. The other I’ll embrace wholeheartedly. Those are the healthy decisions to make.
See more of Wendy on her website: www.wendysummers.com
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