On the Science of Changing Sex

Richard Green, M.D., J.D. (1936-2019)

Posted in Editorial by Kay Brown on June 5, 2019

Greens bookDr. Richard Green passed recently.  How will we remember him?

Joe Herbert published an obit in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, a journal that Dr. Green founded.  As one would expect, he lionizes Dr. Green.  I can’t join him.  Dr. Green’s career is not quite as faultless as Herbert would have it.

I first became aware of Green in early 1975, when Dr. Norman Fisk recommended his book, Sexual Identity Conflict in Children and Adults, to me during my first intake evaluation interview at the Gender Dysphoria Clinic at Stanford.  I drove to the book store right afterwards to buy it.  Although interesting and informative in general, one particular passage had the greatest emotional salience for me,

“The men who fall in love with and perhaps marry women who are themselves former males, by and large, have known their partners only as women.  Their prior sexual experiences have been only with females.  They consider themselves heterosexual and their relationships heterosexual.  To varying degrees they are consciously and unconsciously aware of the biologic status of their partners, but it would be simplistic and would furthermore blur generally accepted definitions to call these men homosexual.  Rather they are men who respond to the considerable femininity of male-to-female transsexuals, ignoring the dissonant cues of masculinity.”

family

Those very words, read when I was 17 years old, gave me hope that my dearest wish, to live in society accepted as a woman, to find and marry a straight man, hopefully to also adopt children, just might be possible, in spite of my own mother’s words of encouragement that “No man will ever love you, you know.”  Fortunately, Dr. Green was right, and my mother quite wrong.

Herbert points out that Green and his colleagues at UCLA were working with gender atypical boys believing them to be transkids, future MTF transwomen.  This wasn’t an unwarranted assumption given the standard transsexual narrative, based on the life arcs of homosexual transsexuals (HSTS), but assiduously aped by autogynephilic late transitioning transwomen to improve their chances of slipping by the ‘gate-keepers’.  But in longitudinally following these youngsters, the majority did not persist to become transsexual, but developed into gay men instead.  Herbert praises Green for changing his hypothesis to match the data, as a good scientist should.  Thus was born the ‘sissy boy syndrome’ and the acknowledgement that gay men have gender atypical childhoods.

However, this glosses a key fact.  Green and his colleagues believed at that time that they were working with young transkids.  Yes, I just said that earlier.  Let me repeat that, because it is key to my concern with not forgetting an ugly truth.  Green and his colleagues (most notably Rekers) at UCLA were trying to “cure” transsexual children to make them grow up to be masculine straight men.  To do that, they engaged in the most vile, despicable, “therapy” experiments conducted on children to date.

Lately, it has become unfashionable and even illegal in some polities to conduct “conversion therapy” to attempt to change one’s sexual orientation.  But a few (and that’s still too many) now argue that it is still proper to “encourage” transkids to “accept” their birth sex.  The problem is two fold.  First, where is the line between reasonable acknowledgement that most gender atypical kids are ‘pre-homosexual’ not ‘pre-transsexual’ and transphobically devaluing the lives and needs of transkids?  Second, where is the line between listening attentively and supporting youth to become the best versions of themselves and implicitly, and even explicitly, telling them that both gender atypicality and gender dysphoria are morally unacceptable?;  Or even more explicitly, telling them that being transsexual is a less than acceptable outcome?  (Don’t quibble, this is in fact what is the underlying value system motivating these therapists.)

Dr. Green is complicit in fostering this implicit devaluing of the lives of homosexual transsexuals in favor of desisters as the better outcome.  Yes, I argue that a morally neutral position regarding desistance vs. persistence is the only acceptable one.  Let desisters naturally desist.  Let persisters naturally persist, providing medical technology as requested by individuals making informed decisions as they mature to become the best versions of themselves.  Holding the position that desisting is the desired outcome tells both transkids and the adults we become (yes that includes me) that we are the undesirable outcome. That we are the “failures”.  This is socially and morally a despicable value to hold.

Further Reading:

Shameful History of Reparitive Therapy of Transgender and Gay Children & Youth

Reference:

Herbert, J., “Richard Green M.D., J.D. (1936-2019)” Archives of Sexual Behavior (2019)
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10508-019-01474-3

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