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 [Read more…]