Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Thinking about the Transgendered

CNN recently featured a very sad story about a boy named Josh Alcorn who decided he wanted to live as a girl.  When Josh shared his decision with his parents, they let him know thatbecause of religious convictions, they could not support his decision. However, his parents also shared that they loved him unconditionally.  Tragically, Josh recently decided to take his own life.  My heart breaks for this young man and his family.  I cannot imagine what his parents and siblings are feeling in their grief. [1]

Some have suggested that Alcorn's parents handled the situation poorly and are therefore partially or entirely to blame for Josh's death.  They suggest that the most loving thing Alcorn's parents could have done for their son was to accept his decision and allow him to live as a female. CNN's article reports that Josh's parents took him to therapy trying to get him help. Some would argue that nothing was wrong with Josh and that there was no need for therapy. However, Paul McHugh, former psychiatrist in chief at John Hopkins in The Wall Street Journal argues here that the current culture is doing those who identify as transgendered no service by embracing their confusion.

McHugh writes:

"[P]olicy makers and the media are doing no favors either to the public or the transgendered by treating their confusions as a right in need of defending rather than as a mental disorder that deserves understanding, treatment and prevention. This intensely felt sense of being transgendered constitutes a mental disorder in two respects. The first is that the idea of sex misalignment is simply mistaken—it does not correspond with physical reality. The second is that it can lead to grim psychological outcomes.

The transgendered suffer a disorder of "assumption" like those in other disorders familiar to psychiatrists. With the transgendered, the disordered assumption is that the individual differs from what seems given in nature—namely one's maleness or femaleness. Other kinds of disordered assumptions are held by those who suffer from anorexia and bulimia nervosa, where the assumption that departs from physical reality is the belief by the dangerously thin that they are overweight….

Psychiatrists obviously must challenge the solipsistic concept that what is in the mind cannot be questioned. Disorders of consciousness, after all, represent psychiatry's domain; declaring them off-limits would eliminate the field….

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….

At the heart of the problem is confusion over the nature of the transgendered. "Sex change" is biologically impossible. People who undergo sex-reassignment surgery do not change from men to women or vice versa. Rather, they become feminized men or masculinized women. Claiming that this is civil-rights matter and encouraging surgical intervention is in reality to collaborate with and promote a mental disorder." [2]

Josh Alcorn's story is a sad one. It is tragic that he decided take his own life. According to McHugh, the most loving thing we can do for the transgendered is to get them the help and care they need. These individuals need to be loved unconditionally and supported through their struggle. We must show them the love of Christ.  Allowing them to continue in or encourage their confusion appears to be the wrong way to proceed.

Courage and Godspeed,

1. My heart also breaks for the driver of the truck that Josh walked in front of.  
2. Paul McHugh, Transgender Surgery Isn't the Solution, The Wall Street Journal, June 12, 2014 as quoted by Amy Hall of Stand to Reason here.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

This was a mentally ill and deeply selfish young man. If he wanted to kill himself, he could've done it any number of ways that wouldn't involve anyone else. Instead, he chose to walk in front of a truck. Nowhere, not in any of the stories I've seen, has there been any compassion for that poor person. I don't even know their name or anything. Can you imagine the pain they are enduring? I'm sure they had no desire to kill anyone that day. Now this person has to live with that memory for the rest of his or her life. Pure evil.

In no way is this Josh to be considered a martyr for this cause. Unfortunately, that's exactly what he's being made out to be.

This delusion of "transgender" is the next frontier for the sexual anarchy crowd.

We are at war. We have to start thinking in those terms. Just like these poor parents are being made out to be monsters for not going along with their son's delusions, so are WE being made out to be monsters for not doing the same.