A (Wither) Spoonful of Poison
When transwomen think of transphobic attacks, they often think of Paul McHugh. He was the adminstrator who shut down the John Hopkins Gender Clinic. Of course, looking back, it was just a tiny fraction of a blip in time before it would have been shut down anyways – as all of the clinics in the United States were – a victim of its own success. Yes, success, as their involvement in what was thought to be experimental became routine palliative medicine.
McHugh has long been the darling of the so called “social conservatives”, translation: homophobic bigots. We can see this by how ardently he is admired by the Witherspoon Institute; the same Witherspoon Institute that funded and supported the academically fraudulent Regenerus paper which purported, but in fact did not, show that children of gay and lesbian parents were emotionally harmed. In fact, McHugh has published yet another anti-trans editorial on their website.
In his editorial, he makes some rather amazing claims regarding transsexuality and transgender sexuality, mixing just enough scientific truth to sound credible. But mixed in are some amazing falsehoods, not just mistaken ideas, but outright lies,
“In fact, gender dysphoria—the official psychiatric term for feeling oneself to be of the opposite sex—belongs in the family of similarly disordered assumptions about the body, such as anorexia nervosa and body dysmorphic disorder. Its treatment should not be directed at the body as with surgery and hormones any more than one treats obesity-fearing anorexic patients with liposuction. The treatment should strive to correct the false, problematic nature of the assumption and to resolve the psychosocial conflicts provoking it.”
McHugh correctly identified that there are two types of transwomen, autogynephilic and non-autogynephilic… but then makes the most silly comparison that those with gender dysphoria “belongs in the family of similarly disordered assumptions about the body, such as anorexia nervosa and body dysmorphic disorder” He KNOWS better, or at least, he should. Autogynephilia is NOT related to these two disorders in any way, shape, or form. By making this statement, it is clear, as his final sentence in this quote shows, that he is attempting to mislead his reader into the false understanding that psychotherapy can treat autogynephilia and gender dysphoria. It can’t.
McHugh bemoans the recent movement to outlaw the clearly ineffective and damaging practice of “reparitive therapy”, which he would like to see used to treat transkids. A careful reading of his editorial will show that he fails to acknowledge that transkids are (with respect to their natal sex) “homosexual”. It doesn’t take a super sleuth to know that the reason that he doesn’t mention this is because he would also like to see reparitive therapy used to “treat” homosexual teens under the guise of treating gender atypical / dysphoric youngsters. But he knows this is even more unlikely to be allowed if society understood that the choice for transkids is one of living as a very gender atypical gay man or lesbian, or as gender typical heterosexual transwoman or transman, respectively; but McHugh wants that to be no choice. He wants such youngsters to be “repaired” to be gender typical heterosexual adults, which he knows, but seems incapable of accepting, is an impossibility.
I’ve said it before in a previous essay, but it bears repeating. McHugh, a conservative Catholic, seeks to substitute religious bigotry for palliative medicine… and is quite willing to bend the truth to get it.
Notes: Autogynephilia, while NOT related to anorexia nervosa and body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), is related to Body Integrity Identity Disorder, a member of the family of Erotic Target Identity Disorders. This family is about sexuality and sexual orientations, which like heterosexuality and homosexuality have been shown to be very resistant to change, thus the move to outlaw “reparitive therapy”. Erotic Target Identity Disorders are far more common in men than women.
Anorexia Nervosa is a member of the eating disorders and is far more common in women than men. Interestingly, among the men, it is more common in gay men than straight, suggesting a connection with hypomasculinized brains. Cognitive Behavior Therapy helps about 50% of clients.
Body Dysmorphic Disorder is a member of the Obsessive-Compulsive disorders. It is equally common in men and women. The disorder responds favorably with Cognitive Behavior Therapy in combination with SSRI’s.
Note that not only are anorexia and BDD not related to autogynephilia, they aren’t even related to each other!
For the record: No study has EVER shown that ANY therapy can “cure” either type of gender dysphoria, autogynephilic or transkid. One can only come to some accommodation. Among those useful accommodations is social transition, HRT, and SRS, as was fully endorsed by the American Psychiatric Association.
Addendum 5/16/2016: McHugh continues his anti-trans ‘crusade’. You may wish to read another rebuttal of an earlier version of McHugh’s misleading op-eds: http://www.transadvocate.com/worlds-experts-condemn-the-mchugh-hoax_n_13924.htm
Reference: Paul McHugh, “Transgenderism: A pathogenic Meme”