|Family First has just released a misleading and inaccurate report about gender dysphoria in childhood. It is based on the anti-transgender 'bathroom bill' strategy and it advocates victimisation of transgender children and teenagers. But what does the science actually say, and why has that anti-transgender tactic failed in the United States?
Warning: quacks It is really no mystery why Family First is desperately trying to ramp up its anti-transgender rhetoric, either. On June 26, marriage equality came to the United States in the Obergefelt decision, which struck down remaining anti-marriage barriers in the United States. Given that Family First is highly dependent on propaganda, strategy and tactics from US Christian Right pressure groups such as the Family Research Council, Witherspoon Institute and Public Discourse, the Pacific 'Justice' Institute and other anti-transgender organisations, it has foolishly imported the failed 'bathroom bill' tactic from the aforementioned organisations.
Family First has the bizarre belief that "experts" reject the psychological diagnosis of gender dysphoria and that they advise against adopting gender appropriate dress and access to hormonal treatment, psychotherapy and counselling and eventual reassignment surgery if some has that particular psychological condition. There are three primary objections to this. One, Bob McCoskrie himself has tertiary qualifications in accountancy and tax policy, not in any area of medical practice or psychotherapy. Secondly, mainstream US mental health organisations indeed do recognise the legitimacy of gender dysphoria. It is listed as a bona fide mental health condition under the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association. It is also backed by the American Medical Association, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Psychiatric Association and American Public Health Association. All of the above have adopted their affirmative policy positions due to cumulative and ongoing professional practice and evidence-based research from that professional practice. Therefore, as one can see, real medical experts certainly do not reject the utility or descriptive diagnostic accuracy of gender dysphoria.
But then, the US Christian Right and satellite pressure groups like New Zealand's Family First and Canada's antifeminist REAL Women do not rely on such robust and evidence-based proofs from professional practice and research to "substantiate" their "case" against transgender rights. Instead, they rely on a coterie of conservative Catholic and fundamentalist Protestant medical practitioners who routinely distort the above and do not represent evidence-based cumulative and ongoing professional practice. Let's analyse each of these pressure group "experts" in turn.
If not based on scientific and medical orthodoxy, what is the underlying philosophy that guides this transphobic pseudo-science? Unsurprisingly, as with recent conservative Catholic and fundamentalist ally failed arguments against marriage equality and same-sex parenting within the New Zealand and United States marriage equality contexts, it is the "natural law" dogma of Saint Thomas Aquinas and Saint Augustine, whose arguments might well have been logically rigorous but lacked the methodical and focused insights that the scientific revolution that began in the seventeenth century has led to. Now, conservative Catholics and their fundamentalist allies are quite free to articulate their prescientific framework in these matters, but they should be honest and acknowledge that this is an unscientific, sectarian philosophical framework and thus inferior to professional practice and evidence-based research. Unfortunately, they usually do not do so.
Dr Paul McHugh shut down the John Hopkins University reassignment facilities in the seventies. He is a devout conservative Catholic, but with all due respect, he is also retired and not currently engaged in professional practice. Moreover, and more problematically, he acted as a 'consultant' to John Paul II's Vatican when it arbitrarily decided that Catholics "should not" accept the descriptive utility and diagnostic accuracy of gender dysphoria and also believes in the dangerous pseudo-scientific practice of 'reparative therapy.' If anything is injurious to the mental and physical health of young people, it is so-called 'exgay' and 'extrans' reparative therapy, and indeed, it is now illegal to use 'reparative therapy' against vulnerable LGBT minors and adolescents in several US states. Dr McHugh also 'cherry picks' and distorts the findings of mainstream current mental health practitioners on transgender issues and professional practice. He should not therefore be treated as a reliable authority or neutral source in this context.
Family First also cites the work of fundamentalist Christian Walt Heyer, purportedly an "ex-transsexual" who believes that any reputable medical practitioner that endorses the above mainstream US medical consensus on gender dysphoria and recommends gender appropriate clothing and behavioural change, and eventual hormonal treatment and reassignment surgery after adolescence "must" be transgender 'themselves'. Furthermore, Mr Heyer also alleges that the above mental health practitioners are pursuing their own "agenda." No, they are pursuing the path of evidence-based research and their own professional practice. From what I've read on the excellent TransChristians website, it is possible that Mr Heyer was misdiagnosed with gender dysphoria when he actually experiences dissociative identity disorder, a rarer mental health condition colloquially known as "multiple personality disorder.' In the latter context, it is not uncommon for a "multiple" to have "alter" differently gendered selves to that of their dominant personality. Moreover, as with Mr McCoskrie himself, Heyer has no qualifications in medical practice to substantiate his anti-transgender views.
Now let's turn to the political failure of so-called "bathroom bills' in Florida, Kentucky, Missouri and Texas. In each Southern US state, Christian Right pressure groups have agitated for the passage of transgender child endangerment bills and although such bills have been introduced, they have all died in select committee within state legislatures. As should be clear from the sources cited above, this failed legislation was based on facile, facetious fearmongering without medical, other scientific or social scientific or medical evidence, statistical verification or documented proof of their wild claims that transgender children and adults "endanger" cisgender peers. Fortunately, in the United States, the American Civil Liberties Union and federal US agencies such as the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission, Occupational Health and Safety Administration, US Department of Education and US Department of Justice are all defending the right of transgender children to educational access. The Department of Education has released policy guidance that it regards transgender school students as protected under antidiscrimination and civil rights legislation under the category of gender.
Furthermore, allies of the transgender community are fighting back. In January 2014, in Doe v Clenchy, the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders legal defence organisation represented Susan, a transgender teenage girl in Orono, Maine, where an initially inclusive school administration forced her to use a staff-only non-communal changing room and toilet facility after a single complaint from a boy whose transphobic grandfather objected to the policy. Happily, justice prevailed for Susan and her family, and the Maine school was found to have transgressed the Maine Human Rights Act.
What about the histrionics about imaginary "transgender sexual predators?' Like Family First, Canadian anti-feminist pressure group REAL Women argued against the adoption of C-279 parroting exactly the same arguments developed by propagandists from the US Christian Right. However, and amusingly, they were shot down in the Canadian Senate when that body investigated the veracity of this bizarre claim from US states that had adopted trans-inclusive antidiscrimination legislation. Did their criminal justice statistics reflect any such phenomena? No, they did not. The US Christian Right and its satellites are lying over this issue.
In fact, it is transgender children and teenagers who suffer harassment, discrimination and even physical assault if these policies are not adopted, and actively enforced. According to the US National Center for Transgender Equality Blueprint (June 2015), seventy eight percent of US transgender school students have faced harassment, while thirty five percent have experienced actual physical assault. Alarmingly, fifty-one percent of those thus bullied contemplated suicide. The US Department of Justice is on their side and has argued that it is indeed discriminatory to deny transgender children access to gender-appropriate changing rooms and toilet facilities.
Bob McCoskrie may be "born again" but the rest of us were not born yesterday. His current histrionics against transgender child protection are based on nothing more than the same tired, mendacious and distorted derivative propaganda, tactics and strategies from the United States Christian Right and its pressure groups. Merely because it failed miserably to halt marriage equality is no reason to spitefully try to endanger the lives and health of vulnerable transgender children.
Recommended: Ontario Consultants for Religious Tolerance: Transsexuality: http:// www.religioustolerance.org/transsexu15.html See also: http://www.religioustolerance.org/transsexu25.html Paul McHugh: http://www.tsroadmap. com/info/paul-mchugh.html http://www.tsroadmap.com/info/paul-mchugh-transsexual.html Walt Heyer: http:// www.transchristians. org/people/walt-heyer Mari Brighe: "Clinging to a Dangerous Past" TransAdvocate: http://www.transadvocate. com/clinging-to-a-dangerous-past-dr-paul-mchughs-selective-reading-of-transgender-medical-literature_n_13842.htm Cristan Williams: "Worlds Experts condemn the McHugh hoax" TransAdvocate: http:// www.transadvocate.com/worlds-experts-condemn-the-mchugh-hoax_n_13942.htm National Center for Transgender Equality Blueprint for Progress (June 2015): http:// www.transequality. org/sites/default/files/docs/resources/NCTE_Blueprint_June_2015_FINAL.pdf GLAD: Doe v Clenchy: http://www. glad.org/uploads/ docs/cases/doe-v-clenchy-decision-1-30-14.pdf Marie Keisling: "Anti-Trans Bills: It Means We're Winning" National Center for Transgender Equality Blog 31.03.2015: http://www.transequality.org/blog/anti-trans-bills-it-means-we-re-winning
Not Recommended: Peter Sprigg "Gender Identity Protections": http://www.frc. org/one-pagers/gender-identity-protection-bathroom-bills Citizenlink: "Transgenderism and the Deconstruction of Gender" Focus on the Family:16.06.2010: http://www.citizenlink.com/2010/06/16/"transgenderism"-and-the-deconstruction-of-gender/ "The Wrong Side of Biology" United Families International: http://www.unitedfamilies. org/default.asp?contentID=677 Craig Young - 30th June 2015