On Sex Change Regret, Part III: Dr. Money vs. Dr. McHugh

You may have come here from Drudge Report today, which linked to my Federalist article Trouble in Transtopia.  So this seems like a good time to post again.  This time, a few words about physicians.

John Money (1921-2006) is perhaps the doctor most responsible for promoting the idea of surgical sex changes.  He was widely known as a pioneering sexologist, and was responsible for founding of the gender identity clinic at Johns Hopkins University.  Below is a documentary of Money’s most famous case today, the tragedy of David Reimer.

Money was so passionate about his gender identity theory, that he jumped at the chance to put it into practice on a baby.  David Reimer (born Bruce, 1965-2002) was an identical twin whose penis was destroyed by a botched circumcision.  Money convinced David’s parents to raise him as a girl.  It didn’t work and the story is thoroughly tragic.  Biology trumped the social experiment, as biology always does in the end.  Dr. Money had kept pushing for surgery to construct a vagina, but David (“Brenda”) resisted, and his parents decided to stop seeing Dr. Money.  They soon after told him he was a boy.  At that point, by the time he was 14, David then dropped all of the charades Money foisted upon him.  But before he was 40, he committed suicide.  You can read David’s story in John Colapinto’s 2001 book As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who was Raised as a Girl.

There are physicians who are skeptical of such blind passion for gender reassignment surgery, though you wouldn’t know it as you watch the transgender project go into media hyperdrive these days.  One of the skeptics is Dr. Paul McHugh, the psychiatrist responsible for shutting down the gender identity clinic at Johns Hopkins in 1979.

McHugh wrote about his experiences at Johns Hopkins in a 2004 First Things article entitled “Sexual Surgery,” and then recently reiterated his arguments in an op-ed this past summer in the Wall Street Journal. If you’re interested in this topic, it’s worth checking those links.  Here’s an excerpt:

We at Johns Hopkins University—which in the 1960s was the first American medical center to venture into “sex-reassignment surgery”—launched a study in the 1970s comparing the outcomes of transgendered people who had the surgery with the outcomes of those who did not. Most of the surgically treated patients described themselves as “satisfied” by the results, but their subsequent psycho-social adjustments were no better than those who didn’t have the surgery. And so at Hopkins we stopped doing sex-reassignment surgery, since producing a “satisfied” but still troubled patient seemed an inadequate reason for surgically amputating normal organs.

In Britain, Az Hakeem was almost as concerned as McHugh, writing in a 2007 article entitled “Trans-sexuality: A Case of the Emperor’s New Clothes,” that transgenderism was a “delusional disorder.”  Having come under extraordinary pressure from trans advocates, Hakeem has pretty much recanted that view since then. Nevertheless, he apparently still runs a psychotherapy program in a clinic that allows those who are pondering surgery to speak in a group setting with post-operative patients who express regret about their decisions.  In this way, he hopes to make sure that anyone considering surgery has a chance to talk it through as much as possible before making irreversible life-altering decisions to refashion or remove healthy body parts. In reading Hakeem’s website, particularly the FAQs, it’s clear that he is hyper-sensitive to the concerns of transgender activists who have in the past called him “transphobic.”

Since the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association both seem to work in lockstep with the transgender lobby today, they will likely continue to place increasing pressure to silence and discredit any psychiatrist who questions surgical sex, as does Paul McHugh.  If they have their way, you’ll likely see the story of David Reimer get suppressed and then see social experimenter John Money get resurrected as some kind of a hero.  In the meantime, more psychiatrists like Az Hakeem will be nudged and pressured to get with the trans program.

 

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