The world has erupted in applause over Bruce Jenner’s latest interview officially coming out as a woman.
We’re told by celebrities and everyone around us that what he’s doing is necessary, brave, courageous, and heroic.
But there is a problem with Bruce Jenner and our celebrations of his decision, and far too many of us are unaware of it.
Last year, a top psychiatrist, Dr. John McHugh, from John Hopkins University penned a piece for the Wall Street Journal, titled Transgender Surgery Isn’t the Solution. In this piece, the doctor makes the bold claim that transgenders have a suicide rate 20 times higher than the general population.
This isn’t the suicide rate while they were bullied while growing up, but it is the rate AFTER gender reassignment surgery.
For the transgendered, this argument holds that one’s feeling of “gender” is a conscious, subjective sense that, being in one’s mind, cannot be questioned by others. The individual often seeks not just society’s tolerance of this “personal truth” but affirmation of it. Here rests the support for “transgender equality,” the demands for government payment for medical and surgical treatments, and for access to all sex-based public roles and privileges.
You won’t hear it from those championing transgender equality, but controlled and follow-up studies reveal fundamental problems with this movement. When children who reported transgender feelings were tracked without medical or surgical treatment at both Vanderbilt University and London’s Portman Clinic, 70%-80% of them spontaneously lost those feelings. Some 25% did have persisting feelings; what differentiates those individuals remains to be discerned.
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.
It now appears that our long-ago decision was a wise one. A 2011 study at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden produced the most illuminating results yet regarding the transgendered, evidence that should give advocates pause. The long-term study—up to 30 years—followed 324 people who had sex-reassignment surgery. The study revealed that beginning about 10 years after having the surgery, the transgendered began to experience increasing mental difficulties. Most shockingly, their suicide mortality rose almost 20-fold above the comparable nontransgender population. This disturbing result has as yet no explanation but probably reflects the growing sense of isolation reported by the aging transgendered after surgery. The high suicide rate certainly challenges the surgery prescription.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I didn’t know that transgender people who underwent sex-reassignment surgery still had an even more increased suicide rate of 20 times higher than the general population. Did you?
If you’ve been following my blog lately, you know that I don’t ever take anything said at face value until I can back it up with the actual statistics and facts, so I did a little digging. The peer-reviewed Karolinska Institute study can be viewed here or here. It was a lengthy study accomplished over 30 years. From the study:
The overall mortality for sex-reassigned persons was higher during follow-up (aHR 2.8; 95% CI 1.8–4.3) than for controls of the same birth sex, particularly death from suicide (aHR 19.1; 95% CI 5.8–62.9). Sex-reassigned persons also had an increased risk for suicide attempts (aHR 4.9; 95% CI 2.9–8.5) and psychiatric inpatient care (aHR 2.8; 95% CI 2.0–3.9). Comparisons with controls matched on reassigned sex yielded similar results. Female-to-males, but not male-to-females, had a higher risk for criminal convictions than their respective birth sex controls.
Persons with transsexualism, after sex reassignment, have considerably higher risks for mortality, suicidal behaviour, and psychiatric morbidity than the general population. Our findings suggest that sex reassignment, although alleviating gender dysphoria, may not suffice as treatment for transsexualism, and should inspire improved psychiatric and somatic care after sex reassignment for this patient group.
This study’s findings are not alone in the medical and scientific world either. The Guardian (UK) completed a review based the University of Birmingham’s research of 100 international medical studies of post-operative transsexuals. Here are some of their main findings after these 100 separate post-surgery studies:
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.
Research from the US and Holland suggests that up to a fifth (20%) of patients regret changing sex.
Johns Hopkins University ended their sex reassignment programs when they concluded that surgery did not effectively cure patients of their psychiatric woes.
“To say that this type of surgery cures psychiatric disturbance is incorrect.”
Dr. Charles L Ihlenfeld of The Kinsey Institute: Advancing Sexual Health and Knowledge Worldwide stated that using cross gender hormones needed to stop because 80% of patients who want to change their sex should not do so. He stated:
“There is too much unhappiness among people who have had the surgery. Too many of them end as suicides. [The transexual candidate] is the only patient who diagnoses himself and prescribes his own treatment…Even though the physical effects of hormones are largely reversible, their psychological effects often are not. The very fact that a doctor clears the patient for hormone therapy can act as a self-fulfilling prophecy for the patient. It may signify to him that his fantasy has received confirmation from the medical profession and that there is now no turning back.”
Do you understand that self-fulfilling prophecy point? And the point that the transsexual is the only patient who diagnoses himself and then prescribes his own treatment? What he’s saying is that no doctor prescribed this condition to the person. It is something that they believe they suffer from. And don’t get me wrong, it is real, and many probably do actually feel this way. But remember the first quote up top by Dr. McHugh of John Hopkins?
“70%-80% of them spontaneously lost those feelings.”
Johns Hopkins University found that of the people that claimed to suffer from transgenderism, 70-80% of them lost those feeling over time spontaneously. And now cue Dr. Ihlenfeld again, where he states we’re creating a culture of self-fulfilling prophecy. We’re letting patients indefinitely decide what they thing they are, and then encouraging that view by going along with it with gender hormone treatment, when in reality, 80% of patients should not do so. Note that Dr. Ihlenfeld’s statement of 80% is awfully close to that of Dr. McHugh’s 70%-80% of people who lose these feelings spontaneously.
Many in our culture war are now also making the claim that “the male transgender brain is feminized,” as another way to justify transgender reassignment surgery. So I found a study on that as well for you. The Stockholm Brain Institute completed a peer-reviewed study on this claim in 2011, titled Sex Dimorphism of the Brain in Male-to-Female Transsexuals. Among there findings are:
Gender dysphoria is suggested to be a consequence of sex atypical cerebral differentiation. We tested this hypothesis in a magnetic resonance study of voxel-based morphometry and structural volumetry in 48 heterosexual men (HeM) and women (HeW) and 24 gynephillic male to female transsexuals (MtF-TR). Specific interest was paid to gray matter (GM) and white matter (WM) fraction, hemispheric asymmetry, and volumes of the hippocampus, thalamus, caudate, and putamen. Like HeM, MtF-TR displayed larger GM volumes than HeW in the cerebellum and lingual gyrus and smaller GM and WM volumes in the precentral gyrus. Both male groups had smaller hippocampal volumes than HeW. As in HeM, but not HeW, the right cerebral hemisphere and thalamus volume was in MtF-TR lager than the left. None of these measures differed between HeM and MtF-TR.
MtF-TR displayed also singular features and differed from both control groups by having reduced thalamus and putamen volumes and elevated GM volumes in the right insular and inferior frontal cortex and an area covering the right angular gyrus.
The present data do not support the notion that brains of MtF-TR are feminized. The observed changes in MtF-TR bring attention to the networks inferred in processing of body perception.
1) All the males’ brains differed in the same ways from the females. There was no feminization of transsexuals.
2) The Male to Female transsexuals differed from both heterosexual men and women in the area of the brain that processes body perception.
Aside from all of this scientific stuff, I now live in Colorado, where I have an uncle who is an anesthesiologist. He’s a brilliant guy, and we actually had a conversation about the transgender topic last month. He had a very different perspective on it than I had previously heard, so I wanted to share it with you. He told me about something that he apparently deals with quite frequently at the many hospitals he works at. He said (paraphrasing):
“All the time. All the time we get someone that comes in and claims that they need their leg removed, or an arm, or a few fingers. I’m not kidding. They claim that they should not have been born with it, and that it needs to be gone. They can’t stand the way their body looks with that left leg, and they ask us to surgically remove it for them. And you know what we do with those people? We get them psychiatric help! Because it’s a real thing! It’s called Body Integrity Identity Disorder and Body Dysmorphic Disorder.”
(Body Integrity Identity Disorder is a psychological disorder wherein sufferers feel they would be happier living as an amputee, or where they feel that some part of their body does not belong, and should be changed. Body Dysmorphic Disorder is a disorder than involves belief that one’s own appearance is somehow defective, and worthy of being hidden or fixed. If you want to read more about it, check out this DailyMail article talking about a woman who decided that she was meant to live as a disable person.)
“We keep explaining to them how chopping off their leg will not change anything, and won’t do anyone any good. And they need psychiatric help and we make sure they get it. It’s very correctly frowned upon for doctors to amputate someone’s limb, because that person in their mind incorrectly believes it doesn’t belong. But you know what? We have people now that want to get their genitals chopped off, because they say they don’t belong, or that they shouldn’t have been born with it, and society celebrates it! It’s the same thing! These people don’t need their genitals cut off, they need psychiatric help!”
Now, my uncle is a lot more blunt than a lot of people, but I find it interesting that his doctor-educated views on the matter coincidentally coincide with all of the other doctors that published these peer-reviewed studies that I’ve cited. Don’t you?
Bruce Jenner is a man. I don’t mean to say that, in his mind, he doesn’t feel like a man and believes that he’s actually a woman, but biologically, he is not a woman. He has male DNA, male chromosomes, male reproductive organs, and apparently now scientifically-proven, he also obviously has a male brain. If nothing was done at all, his male genitals wouldn’t suddenly magically invert into a uterus.
The problem with Bruce Jenner is that should we all be celebrating and legitimizing things like this unknowingly without realizing the legitimate harm that can come from these operations? What is the more loving thing to do? To support someone’s decision to go through with the process now knowing that they are at an even higher risk of death and suicide?
If a child insists that playing ball in the middle of a busy street is the right thing to do because it’s more fun and it feels right to him, does the mother let him? There’s no guarantee that if he plays in the middle of a busy street that he’ll end up dead, but the likelihood certainly increases quite a lot, and many kids who have played in busy streets have in fact died. Is it more loving of a mother to tell her child to go ahead and play in the street knowing the risk? Or is it more loving to tell him that no, he should not go play in the street, despite his judgement, because of the unknowing danger?
Should we really be playing God, without really knowing all of the consequences and implications that can accompany such decisions? Certainly not all people who undergo sex reassignment surgery will commit suicide, but shouldn’t we at least be intellectually honest enough to know and speak truth to real present dangers that many who undergo the surgery do commit suicide and die, as a number of these studies have demonstrated?
If Bruce Jenner has a predisposition to think that he’s a woman, and that decision should be reaffirmed and celebrated by all of us, where does the line get drawn? If his predisposition should be celebrated, why can’t NAMBLA’s be celebrated? If you’re unaware, NAMBLA is the North American Man/Boy Love Association. Yes, it’s a real thing. From their website:
It’s the love of a man for a boy, and of a boy for a man. Enjoyable, consensual, beautiful.
Basically, it’s an organization of male pedophiles who are seeking the legal right to make love to young boys. Their end goal is to abolish Age of Consent laws, and they’ve gotten more traction than you might think. Even House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi has been seen marching with them in parades.
But my point is, if Bruce Jenner is born that way, why can’t they be? They are making all of the same arguments, aren’t they? If he says he can’t help it, and if they say they can’t help it, why is one correct and celebrated, and the other not? How long will it be before it is?
If Bruce Jenner is brave for saying he’s a woman, is the NAMBLA member also brave for saying he wants to have sex with a ten year old? If not, why not?
The problem is that we’re not just men and women anymore, and that not even LGBT is enough to correctly identify everyone. We now have to identify under LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM. I’m not making that up. If you’re among the uneducated like I was, that doesn’t know what all of that stands for, I’ll help enlighten you. It stands for:
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Transsexual, Queer, Questioning, Flexual, Asexual, Genderf*ck, Polyamourous, Bondage/Disciple, Dominance/Submission, Sadism/Masochism.
Wesleyan College has taken up the task in their residential life to make sure that everyone who identifies under any of these things is taken care of. I’m not even sure I want to know what all of those really mean.
If someone has a predisposition to alcoholism, do we still try to get them help? Or just accept and celebrate who they say they are? What about anorexia? Bulimia? Schizophrenia? Are they no longer disorders, and now identified as character traits? Should we support them in all of their decisions despite the well-documented consequences? If not, why not?
Above all, I believe in loving people no matter what happens and no matter what life they choose to live. But I also fear that we are awfully unaware of what the realities are in a lot of these topics. Sometimes, the more loving thing to do might be to just be honest with someone. And right now, I fear that by encouraging all of these different ‘isms,’ and claiming that it’s completely normal and healthy to do and be all of these things, we might be doing a lot more harm than good.
I think Rick Warren put it well when he said:
“Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.”