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Gender Identity, Louisa's SOP and the Christian Right

Sun 20 Apr 2014 In: Comment View at Wayback View at NDHA

Louisa Wall is currently attempting to amend the Human Rights Act 1993 to include gender identity, through an amendment to the Statutes Amendment Bill (No 4). As I have repeatedly said, it is long past time that transgender New Zealanders should be given protection from discrimination on the basis of accomodation, employment and service provision. What can we expect Family First and its transphobic ilk to come up with, however? It's worth noting that the current basis of Christian Right transphobia is built on extremely shaky ground. They can't even get away with claiming that it somehow constitutes a 'tradition' this time, as it only dates from 2003 and the time of John Paul II (1978-2005). According to the invaluable account of Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance, what seems to have happened is that one Dr. Paul McHugh, a former endocrinologist at John Hopkins University closed down his university's gender reassignment programme in 1978. McHugh is a conservative Catholic. He is a believer in the premodern, prescientific twelfth century "natural law" theories of St.Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine when it comes to the alleged "inflexibility" of sexuality and gender identity. According to the excellent transgender TS Roadmap website's invaluable information on McHugh, he then acted as a consultant to the Vatican when it suddenly decided that it wanted to render reassignment surgery "forbidden" to conservative Catholics in 2003, at which point it supposedly became Vatican "dogma." How is this relevant to the current debate? Predictably, our own Bob McCoskrie (Family First) has been taking crib notes from the likes of US Christian Right pressure groups like the Family Research Council and Focus on the Family again. In a piece on the Family First website back in 2013, he also cited several other Christian Right "authorities" on gender identity. McCoskrie also cites Dr Joseph Berger, from the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Canada. Problem with that is that Berger is also an outspoken advocate of "reparative therapy", almost universally condemned by mainstream mental health organisations across the western world (again, thanks to TS Roadmap, an excellent website for this purpose). Ken Zucker, another Canadian religious social conservative medical practitioner is cited on the NARTH and "Leadership University" websites. Right, so in other words, McHugh, Berger and Zucker are all religious social conservatives and in McHugh's case, there seems to have been prior bias against the efficacy of mainstream perspectives on gender identity, gender dysphoria and access to reassignment surgery. Biased much, Bob? One of the chief targets of the US Christian Right has been AB 1266, a commendable Californian transgender child protection and safety bill which ensures that Californian transgender children have access to gender appropriate changing areas and toilet facilities. This has raised grotesque, unsubstantiated claims about the (ab)use of AB1622, which will somehow "insure" that imaginary transsexual pedophiles will "materialise" in women and girls changing rooms. If this sounds suspiciously like the sort of distorted sensationalist nonsense that one would read in bargain basement tabloid newspapers, that's because it is. A Canadian Senate committee decided to check up on the "sources" that the Family Research Council and Focus on the Family were using against transgender rights, repeated by the extremist antifeminist, antiabortion, antigay and transphobic Christian Right women's group REAL Women, a Canadian satellite of the US Christian Right. REAL Women were using it to unsuccessfully target Bill C-279, a Canadian transgender rights bill akin to that proposed in Louisa Wall's SOP to the Statutes Amendment Bill, and also intended to add gender identity to the Canada Human Rights Act, that nation's anti-discrimination legislation. Bill C-279 passed the Canadian House of Commons and was on its way to passing its Senate until Prime Minister Stephen Harper prorogued the Senate on an unrelated manner. It's fairly easy to trace the dots here. As regular readers of this column are aware, McCoskrie attended the "World Congress of Families," an international US Christian Right-led religious social conservative forum in May 2013, where he met with representatives of the Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, (UK) Christian Concern... and REAL Women of Canada. As well as that, McCoskrie also regularly reprints propaganda from the far right Canadian antiabortion, antigay and transphobic "Lifesite" website, another opponent of Bill C-279 and AB1622. Indeed, REAL Women's anti-C279 antics were covered in the World Congress of Families newsletter last year. Finally, Lexie Matheson (Transsexuals of New Zealand) has drawn my attention to a fairly interesting character in this debate. Walt Heyers' is a complicated story. In his case, Heyer had prior dissociative identity disorder (DID), colloquially known as "multiple personality disorder." One of Heyer's alters was female and gradually came into dominance. Unaware of this, Heyer had sex reassignment surgery but was only then correctly diagnosed with DID. Understandably, perhaps, Heyer is fiercely critical of his own initial misdiagnosis, but mistakenly generalises it to assume that "all" reassignment surgery is the result of "misdiagnosis" from his particular circumstances. The "Transchristians" webpage has some excellent resources on Heyer's background, his erroneous claims and other US Christian Right transphobes who may be cited by Bob McCoskrie and his fellow travellers. Is this all the Christian Right could come up with to attack transgender rights? It really is pathetic. Let's not let them get away with it. If he or any of his fellow travellers pop up in the media in the event of Louisa's SOP being debated, cite any relevant aspects of this 'cheat sheet' in response. The Christian Right is entitled to their quaint beliefs about gender identity, but let's not pretend that they are based on anything other than insubstantive malice. Recommended: Catholic beliefs about the cures and causes of transsexuality: http://www.religioustolerance. org/transsexu15.htm Vatican says sex change doesn't change a person's gender: conway/TS/ TSCatholicTSDecision.html Transchristian: Walt Heyer: http://www.transchristians. org/people/walt-heyer‎ “Kenneth Zucker on transsexualism”TS Roadmap: kenneth-zucker.html “Paul McHugh on transsexualism”TS Roadmap: paul-mchugh.html [Re: Joseph Berger]: “Exgay debate occurs in UK Parliament” Truth Wins Out: 05.02.2013: news/2013/02/33150/‎ [Canadian Senate]Bradley Turcotte: “Bill C-279 Testimony met with jeers”Xtra Canada: 29.11.2012: public/National/Bill_C279_ testimony_met_with_jeers- 12869.aspx Not Recommended: Peter Sprigg: “Gender Identity Protections”: gender-identity-protections- bathroom-bills Dale O’Leary: “The expanding gender agenda” MercatorNet: 08.02.2013:http://www. the_expanding_gender_agenda Citizenlink: “Transgenderism’ and the Deconstruction of Gender”Citizenlink:16.06. 2010: 2010/06/16/”transgenderism”- and-the-deconstruction-of- gender/ Craig Young - 20th April 2014    

Credit: Craig Young

First published: Sunday, 20th April 2014 - 11:20am

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