Walt Heyer, The Federalist
Transgender people have high rates of psychological problems that contribute to their identity expression and victimization. The rest of the LGBT crowd should consider how that reflects on them.
The post-marriage culture war is asymmetrical in the group known as LGBT. Gay, lesbian, and bisexual activists have carried the rainbow banner for transgenders for issues that truly matter, such as employment and housing. Now the time has come for a genuine sanity check for them to stop enabling kookier parts of the trans agenda.
The current bathroom policy debate illuminates the growing gap between the concerns of the transgender community and of the LGB community. Perhaps those who favor gay marriage do not want any part of enabling pedophiles in wigs having easier access to kids in bathrooms.
Trans activists paint the entire LGBT group in an unsympathetic light when they lobby for laws to criminalize such trivialities as misusing pronouns, as passed recently in New York City. Practical LGB members might want to take this opportunity to disentangle themselves from the lunacy of today’s trans-rights movement. This will disassociate their movement in the public eye from people whom research shows have high incidents of psychological disorders linked with their transgender expression, and offers an opportunity to protect transgender people from being exploited by high-priced medical quacks.
The differences between the groups now seem glaring. Let’s list a few.
Difference 1: Same-Sex Attraction vs. Gender Perception
Many transgenders are not homosexual, lesbian, or bisexual. Unlike people who identify as LGB, transgenders suffer from self-deception disorders (gender dysphoria). They are convinced that they are in the wrong body, and with the help of enablers and affirmers of their delusion, undergo drastic body-mutilating surgeries to enhance the deception and deny the plain and simple truth of their gender. While some LGB people may be transgender, too, the majority are not.
Difference 2: Bathroom Access
The transgender public restroom issue, a hot topic in the news today, is exclusively a transgender cause not shared by those who are lesbian, gay, or bisexual. Transgender bills being debated at the state and local levels exclusively address gender identity and have nothing to do with sexual preference. This includes bills to legally change one’s gender marker on one’s birth certificate without surgically altering the appearance of one’s genitals. It also includes bills to allow any man to use women’s public restrooms and locker rooms if he says he feels like a woman—no surgery or birth-record change required.
Many gay men don’t care whether transgenders get access to the public restroom of the opposite sex. But gay men might care that pedophiles and deviants invoke such laws to indulge their sexual perversions in public restrooms and in doing so, bring a backlash on the LGBT community. Most women, lesbian or not, prefer to keep a man who has his toolbox intact out of the women’s restrooms and locker rooms, no matter how much he insists he is a woman. This applies particularly to women who have been sexually assaulted in the past.
The freedom to change genders without surgery and to enter gender-segregated spaces is an open invitation to perverts to use public restrooms to indulge their sexual corruptions at the expense of women and girls.
Difference 3: Mental Disorders
Studies show the transgender population has a wide range of co-existing mental disorders. Besides the obvious gender dysphoria, they suffer at high rates from a wide range of undiagnosed and untreated mental issues: body dysmorphic disorders, sexual fetishes like autogynephilia (arousal at the thought of being a woman), and masturbation addictions, to name just a few.
“We found 90% of these diverse patients had at least one other significant form of psychopathology,” says a 2009 study by the Department of Psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University. The psychopathologies found were “mood and anxiety regulation and adaption in the world.”
A 2011 long-term follow-up of transsexual persons undergoing sex-reassignment surgery concluded: “Persons with transsexualism, after sex reassignment, have considerably higher risks for mortality, suicidal behaviour, and psychiatric morbidity than the general population.”
People who are transgender have a higher risk of suicidal behavior, and suicide is known to be caused by depression and anxiety. The recommended treatment for depression, anxiety, or other mental disorders is not gender surgery.
The staggering number of co-existing disorders in the gender dysphoric population sets the transgender group apart from the lesbian, gay, and bisexual population. The deep psychological and psychiatric depression that results from the self-deception of gender identity and the untreated mental disorders has been the major contributor to transgenders’ position at the top of the most-likely-to commit-suicide list.
An Opportunity for LGB to Actually Help the T
Now that we’ve discussed some major points on which the trans agenda does not align with gay and bisexual priorities, let’s further discuss how gay, lesbian, and bisexual activists can benefit trans people by shifting their advocacy.
First, this will help reduce the political pressure that is currently resulting in gender dysphoric people being pushed into treatments that hurt rather than help them.
The high rate of mental disorders among transgenders has been well-documented for 50 years. But instead of diagnosing and treating those issues first, rushing the gender dysphoric person into hormones and surgery ignores any childhood trauma or other mental disorders that might be masquerading as gender dysphoria and leaps directly to the extreme measures of injecting cross-gender hormones and scheduling surgery to remove the original “equipment.”
In my own case, I was approved for surgery after one session with a gender specialist. That was in the 1980s. Today, according to the letters I receive, approval still happens that quickly, and the other psychological problems are deemed not important.
Perhaps when transgenders are considered apart from LGB there can be a fresh new insurgence of improved psychiatric screening, effective diagnoses of the underlining comorbid disorders, and effective treatment that does not include hormones and gender reassignment. That should reduce the number of suicides in this population.
Here is some more information about the history of medical treatments for trans people to help LGB folks understand why they need to step up now, and have done so in the past.
Trans Has Long Been Recognized as a Psychological Issue
In the United States, the practice of treating the gender-confused with hormones and surgery was started by Dr. Harry Benjamin, an endocrinologist and sexologist who is credited with coining the term transsexualism. Benjamin’s New York gender clinic was in full swing during the 1970s. From that clinic emerged some of the first signs that unhappiness with one’s gender and the desire to change gender largely evolved from untreated mental disorders, which hormones and surgery did nothing to relieve.
The leading endocrinologist at Benjamin’s clinic in the 1970s, a homosexual named Dr. Charles Ihlenfeld, administered cross-gender hormone therapy to some 500 transgenders over a six-year period. He came to the conclusion that the desire to change genders most likely stemmed from powerful psychological factors, and he left endocrinology (and Benjamin’s clinic) to begin a residency in psychiatry, a field in which he felt he could be a help to people with gender identity issues. Ihlenfeld said in “Transgender Subjectivities: A Clinician’s Guide,” “Whatever surgery did, it did not fulfill a basic yearning for something that is difficult to define. This goes along with the idea that we are trying to treat superficially something that is much deeper.”
Almost simultaneously, similar findings were coming from Johns Hopkins Hospital’s gender clinic, an early provider of gender reassignment surgery. Dr. Paul McHugh joined the clinic as the director of psychiatry and behavioral science in the mid-1970s and asked Dr. Jon Meyer, director of the clinic at the time, to conduct a thorough study of the outcomes of the clinic’s patients who underwent gender reassignment at the clinic.
McHugh says, “[Those who underwent surgery] were little changed in their psychological condition. They had much the same problems with relationships, work, and emotions as before. The hope that they would emerge now from their emotional difficulties to flourish psychologically had not been fulfilled.” These two different reports came to the same conclusion in the late 1970s.
Research Has Continued to Make This Case
Fast-forward to July 30, 2004, when a review of 100 medical studies delivered another powerful rebuke of surgical genders. David Batty wrote in The Guardian in the UK:
There is no conclusive evidence that sex change operations improve the lives of transsexuals, with many people remaining severely distressed and even suicidal after the operation, according to a medical review conducted exclusively for Guardian Weekend tomorrow.
The review of more than 100 international medical studies of post-operative transsexuals by the University of Birmingham’s aggressive research intelligence facility (Arif) found no robust scientific evidence that gender reassignment surgery is clinically effective.
Some have argued that transgenderism could be due to genetic factors, in a parallel argument to those suggesting a “gay gene.” So far, research has found no such thing for transsexuals. Studies from 2013 and 2009 showed no alterations in the DNA of the main sex-determining genes in transsexuals, proving born-male transgenders are normal males; not a smidgeon of abnormality in their genetic make-up causes them to be transgender. Gender issues are not inherent to the genetic makeup.
Transgender People’s Lives Are On the Line
Four studies published in 2016 alone show that nothing has changed since Ihlenfeld left Benjamin’s gender clinic in the 1970s: Mental disorders are prevalent among the transgender population.
A study published in JAMA Pediatrics in March 2016 shows a high prevalence of psychiatric diagnoses in a sample of 298 young transgender women aged 16 through 29 years. More than 40 percent had coexisting mental health or substance dependence diagnoses. One in five had two or more psychiatric diagnoses. The most commonly occurring disorders were major depressive episode, suicidality, generalized anxiety disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, alcohol dependence, and non-alcohol psychoactive substance use dependence.
The study concluded that improved access to medical and psychological care “are urgently needed to address mental health and substance dependence disorders in this population.”
Another study comparing 20 Lebanese transgender participants to 20 control subjects (the mean age of both groups was 23.55 years) reported that transgender individuals suffer from more psychiatric pathologies compared to the general population. More than half had active suicidal thoughts; 45 percent had a major depressive episode.
The introduction of the third study says there is no consensus among medical professionals on the early medical treatment (giving puberty-suppressing drugs) for children and adolescents with gender dysphoria. The current adolescent treatment guidelines published by The Endocrine Society and the World Professional Association for Transgender Health recommend suppressing puberty with drugs until age 16, after which cross-sex hormones may be given, and deferring surgery until the individual is at least 18 years old. Some medical teams say these guidelines are too liberal and others say they are too limiting, which shows the wide range of opinions.
This study aimed to gather input from pediatric endocrinologists, psychologists, psychiatrists, and ethicists—both those in favor and those opposed to early treatment—to further the ethical debate. The results showed no consensus on many basic topics of childhood gender dysphoria and insufficient research to support any recommendations for childhood treatments, including the currently published guidelines. Nevertheless, many treatment teams using the guidelines are exploring the possibility of lowering the current age limits.
In the meantime, children are being given experimental treatment that has life-long consequences. Of the 38 referrals for gender dysphoria to the Pediatric Endocrinology Clinic at the University School of Medicine in Indianapolis, more than half had psychiatric and/or developmental comorbidities, says the fourth 2016 study.
T and LGB Are Distinct Populations
Reading these studies brings me to the conclusion that “T” is very different from LGB. The scientific community doesn’t comingle LGB with T in research studies because they know the obvious truth: people who are transgender are different from those who are homosexual.
Time to pull the “T” from LGBT. No good reason remains to co-mingle people with mental disorders with people who are homosexual. Nor is it necessary to continue to give social credibility to this tiny group of delusional people who need psychiatric or psychotherapy first and foremost, not pronoun protection or gender reassignment.
Speaking for the non-transgendered or recovered transgendered among us, I am through with the political correctness traps of preferred pronouns and allowing men access to women’s facilities and activities. It’s time to express our compassion for this group and stop participating in their denial. True compassion is acknowledging that serious mental disorders are found in this population and insisting that the medical community stop treating all gender-dysphoric people with hormones and gender reassignment before caring for their mental health.
A good first step is to remove the T from LGBT.
Walt Heyer is an accomplished author and public speaker with a passion for mentoring individuals whose lives have been torn apart by unnecessary gender-change surgery.