The news media asked, “Where the hell did this come from?” But my response was “Well, of course!”
Open discussion about individuals, often very young, who declare that they are of the wrong “gender” for their body—a girl trapped in the body of a boy or vice versa—has been made virtually impossible by pressures of “political correctness” and power politics played by the LGBT lobby. But such sanity as does exist in the field points out that “gender dysphoria” is a psychological disorder of body image in the same category as anorexia and bulimia.
Earlier this week, President Donald Trump tweeted the announcement that after consultations with his military advisors, the decision had been reached that transgendered individuals no longer would be permitted to serve in the U.S. military in any capacity.
As a Trump supporter, I read this and had three distinct reactions:
After all, it was only last year that Barack Obama approved and protected service of transgendered individuals in the military. At the time, there was criticism that he was making the military services a showcase for politically correct identity politics at the expense of disruption, dysfunction, and unnecessary cost for the military at a time when U.S. military manpower is under increasing pressure worldwide.
It was only last year that Barack Obama approved and protected service of transgendered individuals in the military. At the time, there was criticism that he was making the military services a showcase for politically correct identity politics at the expense of disruption, dysfunction, and unnecessary cost for the military at a time when U.S. military manpower is under increasing pressure worldwide.
Since the Trump announcement, the mainstream media, as predicted, has attacked the President’s decision on an hourly basis. The expected talk shows, the interviews with Hollywood types, have fed audiences nonstop agony about transgender individuals (an estimated 6,500 to 15,000 are in U.S, armed services) and near hysterical hate speech toward Trump.
A serious objection raised but not yet resolved is that President Trump in his briefly-tweeted statement implied that Pentagon leaders and chiefs of staff had weighed the matter and reached this decision. Since then, the officials themselves have seemed to deny such “extended consideration” or even knowledge of the coming policy change. If so, there is no way to excuse the clear gist of the President’s Tweet.
What of the substance of the decision? We know that the U.S. military disqualifies individuals for such disorders as ulcers, chronic conjunctivitis, genital herpes, heart arrhythmia, anosmia, Tourette’s, dyslexia, anorexia, agoraphobia, hypochondria, self-mutilation, and suicidal behavior. This brief list does not include the disorder that made me 4F without even an examination by military medical personnel: spondylolisthesis or genetically unfused vertebrae that cause sudden totally disabled attacks of pain.
Amidst the predictable swarming attack by Postmodernist advocates of identity politics, a few scholars have come forward to explain the rational basis of the decision. Ryan T. Anderson, Ph.D., a senior scholar at the Heritage Foundation, offered his perspective, which was reported by Breitbart News but nowhere that I have seen in the “legacy major media.” (Here is Dr. Ryan’s statement on the Heritage site: http://www.heritage.org/civil-society/commentary/5-good-reasons-why-transgender-accommodations-arent-compatible-military.)
“The most helpful therapies for gender dysphoria focus not on achieving the impossible—changing bodies to conform to thoughts and feelings—but on helping people accept and even embrace the truth about their bodies and reality.” It is certain that transsexual surgery and the hormone treatments that accompany it do not guarantee peace of mind.
He succinctly states the thesis that enrages the LBGT lobby, writing: “The most helpful therapies for gender dysphoria focus not on achieving the impossible—changing bodies to conform to thoughts and feelings—but on helping people accept and even embrace the truth about their bodies and reality.” It is certain that transsexual surgery and the hormone treatments that accompany it do not guarantee peace of mind. Dr. Ryan reports that “41 percent of people who identify as transgender will attempt suicide at some point in their lives, compared to 4.6 percent of the general population. And people who have had transition surgery are 19 times more likely than average to die by suicide.”
The inevitable retort to this is that naturally they try to kill themselves because society’s discrimination and scorn drive them to it. Well, whatever triggers this appalling attempted-suicide rate, Dr. Ryan points out that the Obama decision to “showcase” transgender identities “ignored the reality that placing individuals who might be at increased risk for suicide or other psychological injury in the most stressful situation imaginable—the battlefield—is reckless.”
That was not the only reality ignored. How about: the privacy of other service persons when, for example, men register as women; combat readiness when massive and extended hormone therapy at regular intervals is needed; fitness standards when, for example, women enlist as men; and the conscience and scruples of other service personnel who view such surgery as a monstrosity?
I find it difficult to take seriously the claims of transgender advocates. Would military personal require an extra week in basic training to memorize and learn to apply the correct terms to their new comrades-in-arms, knowing when to use “agender,” “genderless,” “Androgyne,” “bigender,” “Genderqueer,” “non-binary,” “Gender bender,” “pangender,” “Queer heterosexuality,” “third gender,” “trans man,” trans woman,” “tri-gender,” and “Two Spirit”? (I left some terms out of this list provided by Wikipedia as well-known “gender identities.”)
These terms are taken extremely seriously. If to any given term you add a prefix you get the appropriate term for a new form of bigotry such as “transmisogyny.” The offended individual may now be carrying a rifle behind you as you charge onto the battlefield.
For centuries, no one guessed that these diverse psychological “identities” existed alongside indisputable binary sexuality: male or female. Only in 1965 was “transgender” used for the very first time by psychiatrist John F. Oliven, at Columbia University (“trans-sexual” is only 15 years older, first used in 1949).
Among the first and more enduringly influential critics of the concept of “transgender” and its “treatment” by trans-sexual surgery has been Paul McHugh, M.D., formerly chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University and psychiatrist-in-chief at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. In an article in the Wall Street Journal, Dr. McHugh made the point that the profession of psychiatry exists because individuals for a vast and complex array of reasons come into psychological conflict with reality. Ideas, emotions, and behaviors that clash with reality can lead to anything from minor neurotic discomfort to lifelong confinement in a locked psychiatric ward. If we decree that the ideas, emotions, and behaviors should not be adjusted to the biological reality, but the biological reality adjusted to them, says McHugh, then there is no longer a role for psychiatry. Just surgery.
In fact, though, human sexuality is binary—either male or female. Some people are born biologically abnormal in the sexual realm, as in others, but this is not a third sex; it is a developmental disorder (in some cases called “intersex”). In biologically normal men and woman, the developing psyche must adjust to the biological reality. That takes the form of the emergence of psychological masculinity or femininity. Of course, it (relatively) recently has been widely accepted that in a small percentage of cases either profile may be compatible with attraction to the same sex or to both sexes instead of the opposite sex.
It was under Dr. McHugh that Johns Hopkins opened the first program in the United States for trans-sexual surgery. After sufficient time to evaluate the results, studies by Hopkins, says McHugh, indicated that the surgery did not solve the presenting complaint (e.g., “gender dysphoria”) and that at programs in existence longer than that at Hopkins, the suicide rate among trans-sexual individuals was unacceptably high.
Dr. McHugh has continued his public opposition to the movement in the face of endless attacks, volumes of hate mail, attempts by some colleagues to disassociate him from Hopkins, and opposition from some professional groups. To shelter physicians opposed to the transgender movement, and to advance alternative research, Dr. McHugh endorses the new American College of Pediatricians as an alternative to the huge American Academy of Pediatrics, which has taken the transgender pledge.
What does it mean, in every day terms, for parents (and pediatricians) when the sole standard of whether or not an individual of any age is a man or woman is their declaration?
What does it mean, in every day terms, for parents (and pediatricians) when the sole standard of whether or not an individual of any age is a man or woman is their declaration? Back in January, the Boy Scouts of America announced: “Starting today, we will accept registration in our scouting programs based on the gender identity provided on an individual’s application.”
A 14-year-old, whom I innocently named Jane, decides to join the Boy Scouts. She applies and identifies herself on her application as a boy/man. She is admitted without question—not as a girl in the Boy Scouts but plain and simply as a boy. End of problem. Her biology on display in the camp tent and showers is not defining or confining; biology and gender are separate matters.
What you will notice, above all, in commentary on President Trump’s decision is a tone of almost breathless, bewildered disbelief that anyone in touch with reality (current with what is politically correct?) conceivably could question the absolute normality of transgendered individuals. This is the tactic applied at each forward march of Postmodernism. Last year, it was gay marriage. Before that gay or lesbian couples adopting children into their “family.”
You are against it? Oh God! Everyone has accepted it since last September!
While I was attending graduate school at Boston University, long ago, a wonderful professor, Marx Wartofsky (guess the ideology of his parents) told his newly aspiring philosophers: “Have every tolerance for individuals, have no tolerance for ideas.”
Translation: Be kind and gentle with your fellow seekers after truth, but rip their ideas to shreds if reason leads you there. Young men and women (mostly) with strong feelings that they are “trapped in the wrong body,” are at terrible risk. They come under remorseless pressure to begin hormone therapy to halt their biological sexual development until such time as trans-sexual surgery is permitted. The other risk, just as real, if they are frustrated in their search for “an answer” is suicide. Far from dismissing them as deluded, we should take their feelings seriously. If that means helping them to adjust to their biological reality, we will run into the ruthless opposition of the LGBT community.
For the philosophically groundless and always destructive notion that our feelings must be viewed as primary, and that reality must snap into line, we should have merciless intolerance. And yet, that philosophical inversion is at the root of the entire transgender conception. Let me quote the simplest, most common definition:
Adjective: transgender; adjective: transgendered