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When Will the "Transgender Craze" End—and How?

When Will the "Transgender Craze" End—and How?

February 20, 2024

Note: This article was originally published on The Savvy Street and has been reposted with the author's permission.

Of course, it is not called a “craze,” today—nor were eugenics, frontal lobotomy, or “recovered memories” (of early sex abuse) called crazes in their heyday. Today, they are called much worse.

It is not called a “craze,” today—nor were eugenics, frontal lobotomy, or “recovered memories” (of early sex abuse) called crazes in their heyday.

But just as, at the height of these other crazes, to label as a “craze” the “transgender” ideology and “affirmative” treatment for “gender dysphoria”—including a menu of options psycho-pharmacological and surgical—is to be labeled, in response, an extremist, “right-wing “extremist,” or even, increasingly, a “criminal.” If you happen to be in the field of education, health care, or the media, among others, transgender activists and their allies in the media, higher education, and government will blacken your reputation and seek your dismissal. So it was in the days of eugenics, frontal lobotomy, and “recovered memories.

They all ended discredited, with victims in the tens of thousands or, for eugenics, the millions. The profession of psychiatry in the 20th and 21st centuries, even as it has advanced in certain fields, has seemed to stumble into one pernicious fad after another.

Many countries around the world, and dozens of states, now have laws or regulations[i]—and strictures by professional groups (the American Psychiatric Association reliably signs on every time)—enforcing the transgender ideology. For example, psychiatrists and other counselors may not practice “conversion” therapy, parents cannot discourage or withhold from their children “affirmative care for gender dysphoria.” But  virtually all news stories and reports now focus only on the reaction that has begun as many states now are enacting or considering laws to restrict or inhibit [ii]“gender-affirming care.”

What Is the “Transgender Ideology”?

What is going on, here? Well, the chief presenting complaint or disorder is “gender dysphoria”—the feeling of being uncomfortable or alienated from your (notice this official language) “assigned” sex at birth.

For transgender ideology, it is an absolute—although they claim for it scientific sanction—that newborns are “assigned” a sex by doctors. The “assignments” are “binary”: male or female. In other words, a baby’s gender is not simply recognized, as we used to think, but “assigned.” And children are later told by transgender activists and their allies that “your sex was decided for you by someone else.”

There is a slender thread linking this to reality. For more than 100 years, medical science has recognized “intersex” births. For reasons only partly understood, an infant is born with indeterminate genitalia. Doctors decide the baby’s sex on other indications; usually it is female. This is extremely rare. The standard figure used to be one in 5,000 births. Transgender activists, as you can imagine, now put the estimate at one in 200 births.

The transgender ideology treats all newborns as “intersex”—with refinements.

In a sense, however, the transgender ideology treats all newborns as “intersex”—with refinements.

According to transgender ideology[iii], there is only one way to know an individual’s gender, to know if a child, adolescent, or adult is masculine, feminine, “genderqueer,” “gender variant,” or no gender. What does the individual “feel,” “deeply sense,” or “sense strongly over at least six months” (with the latter, Mayo Clinic is trying to be “responsible”)? The person’s report is the only way to know—the last word. No physiological basis for “gender” in contrast to “birth sex” is known. A few claims are made, but mostly just that someday we will know.

The individual’s report—“masculine” or “feminine” or, with encouragement, “both genders,” “no gender,” etc.—is official. It is sacred. Increasingly, it is legally protected.

Furthermore, transgender ideology proclaims[iv] that a child’s gender is fixed, immutable, or almost impossible to change by age 3—at the latest. Maybe even by age 2. Therefore, “conversion therapy,” counseling with the aim of bringing the child’s sense of “gender” into congruence with the child’s sex, or birth sex, or “assigned sex,” is deemed unprofessional, worse than useless, and malpractice. It has been called a “violation of human rights,” “torture,” and “brutality.”

Countries have made “conversion therapy” by medical professionals illegal, and, in some cases, by laymen, also, including parents. The alternative to “conversion therapy” is “gender-affirming care”—now sacred among psychiatrists—that begins with affirmation and encouragement of the person’s felt “gender identity,” and moves on to name changes, cross-dressing, mechanical means for suppressing external sexual features (breast strapping, genital strapping), hormones to delay puberty (expression of external sexual features), surgery to turn the penis or vagina into its opposite, surgery to change voice pitch, surgery to change body form. If you check the webpage for the Mayo [v] Transgender and Intersex Specialty Care Clinic in Minnesota, you will see this menu of options offered.

Transgender activists are alarmed and enraged that parents may resist the schools (almost all) that provide education about “gender identity,” “gender dysphoria,” “assigned birth sex,” and transgender medical and surgical options. Familiar by now are reports that parents discover only months later that their child’s teachers have been using a different gender-related name for the child, the child has been using the bathroom of their preferred gender, and so on. Children come home locked and loaded to fight for their rights. A favorite, famous line they are taught: “Would you rather have a transgender son or a dead daughter?” Or the converse.

This is typical “hard ball” by transgender activists and is based on the claim that the rate of suicide by children with untreated “gender dysphoria” is far higher than average. This is not true. The risk of suicide is about average for children with the spectrum of emotional problems shown to make them vulnerable to the call of “gender dysphoria,” a decision that ensures intense attention from parents, teachers, therapists, and physicians. The same pattern is seen in the psychological profile of girls who become anorexic or bulimic, insisting as they starve themselves into emaciation, and against all evidence, that they are overweight and unattractive—even “disgustingly” fat. As one psychiatrist commented, treating “gender dysphoria” with transgender surgery is like treating anorexia with liposuction. Reality is forced into conformity with disordered feelings. Or more succinctly: If reality must be changed to conform with thoughts and feelings, then psychiatry has no role.

Transgender activists, up in arms that all children and adolescents who proclaim “gender dysphoria” don’t not have immediate and full access to “gender-affirming care,” most recently have advanced legislation, now nearing a vote in the State of Maine[vi], that would make the state a “refuge” for children with gender dysphoria. Any boy or girl 16 years of age or older could go to Maine without parental permission and be considered for transgender surgery. The state would take temporary custody; parents would not be informed. All to “protect children” and ensure their right to appropriate medical care.

A Brief History of Medical/Psychiatric Crazes

This is backed by the medical profession, especially psychiatrists and their professional associations. If this seems startling, or let’s say, questionable, it is time to turn to history.

In Europe by the 1930s, the “science” of eugenics”—in effect, steps to “improve” the human gene pool—had taken hold in the medical profession. It rested in great part on Social Darwinism, the philosophical view that by eliminating “weak,” “defective,” “degenerate” individuals, the human species could improve just as other species were constantly “selected” by nature to increase the strong and eliminate the weak. Many thought this would occur naturally in society if “defective” individuals were not succored by charity or welfare.

The German medical profession, leading up to the 1930s, was viewed as the world’s most advanced and scientifically informed and refined. With the election of Adolf Hitler and the rise of the Nazi party, eugenics—already well-known and practiced—got its big chance.

As the Nazi Party strove to rebuild the German economy and appealed to German “pride,” German doctors, particularly psychiatrists, flocked to join. The German medical profession was overcrowded, and many were relieved that Jewish doctors were barred from all state jobs; later, some 7,000 were purged. By 1945, less than 10 percent of Germans had joined the Nazi Party; but even by 1942, 50 percent of physicians had joined. In the SS were enrolled one percent of Germans, but seven percent of physicians. The story is complex, but it has been asserted,[vii] with strong evidence, that the Holocaust could not have happened without the active involvement of doctors.

    Ernst concluded in an article in the
    International Journal of Epidemiology
    (2001): “Without the doctors’ active help, the Holocaust would not have happened.”

Eugenics was introduced into German psychiatric hospitals and other institutions such as prisons, but also applied to the population at large to eliminate those considered “unworthy of life.”

It began with sterilization of those deemed “defective,” “debilitated,” “demented,” “mentally ill,” “incorrigible,” “criminal”—and later Romani people, Jews, or those for other reasons “undesirable Germans.” In all, sterilization was forced on some 400,000 people judged “hereditarily diseased” or “racially inferior.” The concept was to strengthen the German race, the Volk, the Aryan bloodline. Doctors and nurses administered it all, doing interviews, administering questionnaires, completing questionnaires themselves, and keeping relevant medical records. The next step, in the same system, was “euthanasia” of the same groups, but now adding the “incurable” (e.g., with Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, Parkinson’s). It was presented as kindness to the hopeless. Some 200,000 individuals mentally or physically disabled, or chronically ill, were killed.

When the concentration camps or death camps were set up, physicians determined which institutionalized patients should be sent. Physicians developed the methods of “euthanizing” patients, gas being only one. At some camps, physicians examined and interviewed candidates for the gas chambers. They examined inmates to ascertain which were strong enough for slave labor and which were dispensable. A “camp” doctor was present at all mass killings for legal reasons. As Nazism spread across Europe, and the challenge of eliminating those unsuitable for a German empire became vast, doctors remained involved.

The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Encyclopedia [viii] concludes: ”The German medical profession played a central role in shaping and implementing many Nazi policies. A high number of doctors and nurses supported the regime and many became complicit in Nazi crimes.”

The Sterilization Craze in the United States

In the early twentieth century, America [ix]came under the influence of ideas about eugenics from England, especially those of  the “father of eugenics,” Sir Francis Galton (1822-1911), who advocated it to ensure the health of the human species. In the United States, members of the political Progressive movement embraced eugenics, both by immigration restriction and sterilization. With the first legislation enacted in 1907 (in Indiana), by 1927 a challenge to the movement had reached the US Supreme Court, which upheld the laws. As in Germany, programs in the states focused initially on institutionalized, mentally disabled women. By the 1930s, during the Roosevelt administration, advocates rationalized involuntary sterilization to protect “vulnerable” women from unwanted pregnancy (or any pregnancy for the rest of their lives). By World War II, America had sterilized some 60,000 women. When postwar revelations showed that Nazis, with German Hereditary Health Courts’ approval, carried out at least 400,000 sterilization operations in less than a decade, the practice declined rapidly in America. Coerced sterilization remains widespread in China and India and in other countries where minority groups face involuntary sterilization.

The Frontal Lobotomy Craze

During the 1930s and 1940s in Europe, experiments were underway seeking more active, “heroic” measures for treating psychiatric patients that increasingly overcrowded psychiatric hospitals and other facilities.

Although he was part of a much larger movement in medicine and psychiatry, the “hero” of these efforts was the Portuguese neurosurgeon, Antonio Egas Moniz, who observed psychiatric patients who were agitated, manic, anxious, depressed, or violent. Some were diagnosed with epilepsy, depression, or schizophrenia—and Moniz developed the theory that this must result from miswiring of the brain. Very little was known then of brain physiology or pathophysiology, but Moniz speculated it must involve connections to and from the frontal cortex, the foremost part of the brain.

If the connections from this diseased or disordered part of the brain were severed, the symptoms would abate. He developed an operation, the frontal lobotomy (or leucotomy) to do the job. Moniz shared the Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology in 1949, but his work and the reported near-miraculous results were known throughout Europe and America much sooner.

An American psychiatrist, Walter Freeman II, at George Washington University Hospital, saw the same overcrowding and psychiatric ineffectiveness in American mental institutions. At the Second International Congress of Neurology, he happened to occupy the booth next to Moniz. He became excited, almost exhilarated, by his discussions with Moniz.

Back in America, he performed the first lobotomy[x] in September 1936. He reported the results (anonymously), claiming that the operation’s “importance can scarcely be overestimated.” He speculated that in the mentally ill, cellular interconnections may harbor a “fixation of certain patterns with relationships among various groups of cells” resulting in such symptoms as delusions, obsessions, and “mental morbidity.”

It was general, speculative, and hypothetical—at best—but Freeman and his partner, James H. Watts, went full speed ahead. They realized that many psychiatric hospitals that might have to perform hundreds of lobotomies might not have surgical suites or be able to administer anesthesia. They developed a method using a long, sharp mental probe (most often compared to an ice pick) that was inserted over an eyeball and pushed slowly into the brain. There it was wiggled around until the connections from the frontal cortex were severed. Then the same thing was done with the other eyeball.

They named it the “Freeman-Watts Standard Frontal Lobotomy,” a “precision method.” Any physician in any mental hospital could perform this operation. Anesthesia was not strictly necessary, but, if desired, electroconvulsive therapy could be substituted for anesthesia. So enthusiastic were they that they equipped vans to go from town to town offering the operation to all comers who signed a consent form or had it signed by a parent.

There was a dramatic increase in lobotomies from the early 1940s. By 1951, 20,000 had been performed in the United States, 17,000 in England, and 9,300 in the Nordic countries. Many were young children. According to one estimate, 40 percent of Freeman’s patients were gay men.  Freeman personally performed more than 3,000 lobotomies, often with an ice pick, without anesthesia or sterile conditions.  Many of his patients suffered severe brain damage or death. Lobotomy—along with other methods such as electroshock therapy, hormone injections, and aversion therapy—also was used in the United Kingdom as a “treatment” for homosexuality.

By the late 1970’s, by the time that lobotomies had been discontinued around the world, except for another decade in France, some 40,000 Americans had been lobotomized. Because the frontal cortex, as we now know, is responsible for human executive functioning at the conceptual level—planning, initiating action, and controlling impulses—lobotomized patients not only showed less anxiety, impulsiveness, anger, and violence but also less responsiveness, self-awareness, and self-control. Symptoms had been reduced at the cost of personality and intellect. Writer Sylvia Plath characterized it as a permanent “marble calm.” Activity was replaced by inertia, individuals left emotionally blunted with decreased cognition and detached from society.

Torsten Wiesel, Swedish neurophysiologist and winner of the 1981 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine, called the awarding of the prize to Moniz an “astounding [error of] judgment…a terrible mistake.”

Ken Kesey in his 1962 novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, described a patient who had been lobotomized: “You can see by his eyes how they burned him out…his eyes are all smoked up and gray and deserted inside.”

Paul McHugh And the “Recovered Memories” Craze

When the next fad swept psychiatry, primarily in the United States, America was in luck. The near legendary psychiatrist, Paul McHugh, when he was graduated from Harvard Medical School and finished his residency in psychiatry, came under the influence of a mentor who warned him against slipping into the uncritical practice of Freudian psychoanalysis then dominating psychiatric practice. McHugh sought out a residency and special training in  neurology, adding brain science and related disciplines to his concept of practice.

(As an aside: McHugh, a Catholic, characterized [xi]himself as a Democrat, a political liberal, and a cultural conservative.)

After several distinguished positions in clinical teaching and research, McHugh in 1975 became the Henry Phipps Professor of Psychiatry and director of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at the Johns Hopkins University. He also was psychiatrist-in-chief at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. When he died in 2021, he was University Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Directing clinical teaching and practice for decades at Johns Hopkins, and author, co-author, or editor of seven books in the field—including textbooks on the history, nature, and practice of psychiatry—he led generations of students toward a practice that did not ignore psychodynamics (Freudianism), behaviorism, or neuropsychiatry (brain science), but counseled the critical integration of all three “perspectives.”

In 1983, McHugh and Phillip R. Slavney together wrote The Perspectives of Psychiatry, which presented the institution’s approach to psychiatry, which sought “to systematically apply the best work of behaviorists, psychotherapists, social scientists and other specialists long viewed as at odds with each other.” A second edition was published in 1998.

Fast forwarding, here, another “breakthrough” in treatment seized the psychiatric profession in the 1990’s. Few, today, recall that a single towering figure in psychiatry led the opposition to this fad called “recovered memory”[xii]— that is, the idea that people could suddenly and spontaneously recall childhood sexual abuse of which they had been completely unaware for decades.

At first, a few seemingly totally respectable individuals—administrators of schools, teachers—were abruptly arrested to screaming headlines of hidden sex abuse of children. A mental-health practitioner wedded to psychodynamic theory, the Freudian doctrine, would become convinced that most resistant emotional conflicts were caused by submerged and forgotten childhood sexual abuse and would obtain a “confession” from a patient that such abuse had indeed occurred. The therapist would notify the authorities, and the police would arrive to arrest the named individuals.

Hundreds of school administrators, teachers, and parents were arrested and charged. McHugh became a dissenter at great cost to his reputation. The patient charges against “abusers” began to include “memories” witchcraft rites or sexual torture. McHugh’s question about young “patients” was: Just because, after months of pressure in therapy, they at last attest to “remembering” it, is it true?

By this time, the matter was in courts all over America. McHugh organized a group to support those charged and to provide professional testimony in court. In case after case, it emerged that the “patient” had been told that he or she must “remember” or never be “cured.” That drugs had been used to “free” blocked memory. That patients who had a memory “breakthrough” then were isolated in hospital wards to be only with others who had had such “breakthroughs.”

In 1992, McHugh served as a co-founder and subsequent board member of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation, which raised skepticism about adults who claimed to have recovered long-buried memories of childhood sexual abuse or incest. That year, McHugh was elected to the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academies of Science (now called the National Academy of Medicine). It is among the highest honors conferred on U.S. physicians and scientists.

Case after case of alleged “recovered memories” of abuse were defeated in court. In the end, most “patients” were tearfully confessing that they really did not recall these things. But families split apart by these accusations in many instances never came back together. Some individuals served jail sentences for alleged but unsupported accusations of sex crimes against children.

Paul McHugh broke the back of this psychiatric witch hunt, leading psychiatry back from its detour into the Dark Ages, saving thousands of individuals from the searing pain of standing falsely accused of sexually abusing their children or children entrusted to them. Among the best accounts of the entire sorry episode is Dr. Hugh’s own book published[xiii] in 2008: Try To Remember: Psychiatry’s Clash Over Meaning, Memory, and Mind.

The Transgender Craze

Considerably earlier than this, however, McHugh had taken a step at Johns Hopkins that was impressively ahead of its time in the context of psychiatry’s next great craze. In 1979, in his capacity as chair of the Department of Psychiatry, McHugh ended gender reassignment surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital. It had been the first such program in the United States. (In 2017, with McHugh no longer in charge administratively, the clinic was reopened.)

Although retired, McHugh was still on the scene, revered at Hopkins, which had not forgotten that he alone stood up to the “recovered memory” fad. As the transgender and sex-reassignment surgery movement virtually exploded not only in America, but worldwide, McHugh spoke out. Soon, he was singled out as the Grand Inquisitor of the transsexual surgery movement.

At the time McHugh had closed the Hopkins program, he had cited research that found most people who had undergone this type of surgery at Hopkins were content with what they had done; relatively few regretted it. But they had not changed in their psychological condition. The same problems with relationships, work, and emotions continued to trouble them. Expectations that the procedures would open a new life free of their emotional difficulties had not happened. It is McHugh who is quoted earlier in this article as saying that medical treatment for transgender youth is “like performing liposuction on an anorexic child.”

In considering “research” that follows-up patients who have undergone “gender reassignment surgery,” it is well to keep in mind that they have chosen to have breasts removed, penises removed, vaginas converted into penises…Their outer sex organs no longer work with their inner anatomy, so they no longer can conceive children. The transgender male with his artificial penis has the reproductive system of a woman. The transgender female with a penis inverted to create a vagina has the reproductive system of a man. So far, uterus transplantation has not been successful. Danish transgender painter, Lili Elbe, gave it a try and died from surgical complications.

Individuals who have had “sex-reassignment surgery” are interviewees on news shows and popular figures on social media. For the mainstream media, they are cultural heroes. Increasingly, things are arranged to acknowledge them.

Add to this that individuals who have had “sex-reassignment surgery” are film stars, TV celebrities, interviewees on news shows, and popular figures on social media. For the mainstream media, they are cultural heroes. Increasingly, things are arranged to acknowledge them. Signs are appearing in my local medical offices and in stores asking: how do you want to be addressed? With a list of choices among genders. Asked if what they permanently gave up, and their new embodiment celebrated by the media, left them “satisfied,” “happy,” “better off,” there are powerful incentives to affirm the wisdom of their choice—even if, as McHugh points out, none of the psychosocial troubles that motivated them have been resolved. The world proclaims repeatedly that they courageously did the right thing. You are a warrior in the struggle for “liberation” of your choice of your gender; liberation from society’s insistence on “binary,” either/or sexuality, male or female; and liberation from “assignment” of your sex by someone else, someone “in power.”

From 2004, when there were two clinics in the world to treat gender problems, today there are at least 100 clinics in the United States alone. America now has such clinics everywhere, including its most prestigious academic medical centers. A report by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)[xiv] states:

“A total of 48, 019 patients who underwent GAS were identified, including 25,099…who were aged 19 to 30 years. The most common procedures were breast and chest procedures, which occurred in 27,187 patients…followed by genital reconstruction in 16,872, and facial and cosmetic procedures in 6,669…The absolute number of GAS procedures rose from 4,552 in 2016 to a peak of 13,011 in 2019 and then declined slightly to 12, 818 in 2020. Overall, 25,099 patients…were aged 19 to 30 years, 10, 476…were aged 31 to 40, and 3,678…were aged 12 to 18 years.”

Aside from actual procedures, what is the estimated prevalence of so-called “gender dysphoria”? The American Psychiatric Association in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual-5 estimates that about 4 or 5 people per 100,000 who are assigned male at birth have gender dysphoria and that 2 or 3 people per 100,000 who are assigned female have gender dysphoria.

No cause of gender dysphoria is known. Thus, there are no treatments targeting its etiology (causes) or pathogenesis. There have been twin studies that have reported that genetic factors play a role in determining gender, but remember they necessarily are based only on asking each twin: what gender do you feel you are? And they assume that how one twin identifies does not affect how the other twin identifies.

In 2016, after he retired from Hopkins, McHugh was co-author of an article on gender and sexuality [xv]published in The New Atlantis, a journal of the Ethics and Public Policy Center. In the 143-page article, two summarizing judgments stand out:

First, the understanding of sexual orientation [“gender”] as an innate, biologically fixed property of human beings—the idea that they are born that way—is not supported by scientific evidence. [All that transgender activists can cite are the twin studies.]

Second, the hypothesis that gender identity is an innate, fixed property of human beings that is independent of biological sex [my emphasis]—that a person might be “a man trapped in a woman’s body” or “a woman trapped in a man’s body”—is not supported by scientific evidence.

In response, eight members of the Hopkins faculty published an op-ed in the Baltimore Sun saying that McHugh mischaracterized the current state of science on gender and sexuality. Some 600 members of the Hopkins community petitioned the university and hospital to disavow McHugh’s article.

An attack on McHugh most widely reported in the mainstream media came from a geneticist, Dean Heilman Hamer, who condemned the publication as misrepresenting science and Hamer’s own genetics research. Hamer is known for reporting the discovery of a single “gay gene” accounting for homosexuality. The claim was quickly debunked, but Hamer then claimed he had discovered the “religious gene,” a gene that caused people to have religious feelings.

Hamer became personally incensed at McHugh, writing that “when the data we have struggled so long and hard to collect is twisted and misinterpreted by people who call themselves scientists, and who receive the benefits and protection of a mainstream institution such as John Hopkins Medical School [sic], it disgusts me.”

Hamer is known for his 2009 film [xvi]“Out in the Silence,” about his marriage in April 2004 to Joseph Hall Wilson. Not surprisingly, given the subject, the documentary won an Emmy award.

By contrast, the late Tom Wolfe, author of The Right Stuff, Bonfire of the Vanities, and Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak-Catchers, credited McHugh with “saving him” from a severe depression. He described [xvii]with characteristic color the cultural atmosphere that McHugh faced and his efforts to guide psychiatry back to reason and science:

“Paul McHugh…is the man who rescued modern psychiatry from a coven of flaming nut cases with medical degrees who actually believed in such lunatic notions as ‘recovered memory,’ ‘sexual reassignment,’ ‘multiple personality disorder,’ ‘physician-assisted suicide,’ ‘Vietnam-specific post-traumatic stress syndrome,’ and destroyed innumerable lives as long as they held sway.”

Will It End?  When? How?

If Dr. McHugh were still with us, we might offer a more sanguine answer to the question that began this article: “When will the transgender craze end?”

Eugenics, frontal lobotomy, and “recovered memory” syndrome—and somewhat lesser fads of psychiatry such as multi-personality disorder (socially ignited by the 1957 movie, “The Three Faces of Eve”)—all petered out, but not by themselves. To some degree, eugenics was discredited, we hope forever, by the Nazi example, although it was extensively practiced (as sterilization) in America, too. Seeing this, one might have believed that the medical profession, especially psychiatry, got a lesson it never would forget.

Neither the profession of psychiatry, nor any individual in any related profession, can be stigmatized in any way by what was done by others in Germany or elsewhere. By the same token, however, it seems the German example did not serve later generations as a warning never to be forgotten. Nor did the experience with frontal lobotomy. Nor with “recovered memories.”

Today, children, parents, teachers, and healthcare workers are in a permanent atmosphere of heightened alarm.

Even as the latter was attenuating under pressure of court cases, the transgender movement was arising and gaining momentum. Today, children, parents, teachers, and healthcare workers are in a permanent atmosphere of heightened alarm. The children in their care might suffer “gender dysphoria” without knowing it, or without “gender-affirming care”—and parents and others might suffer stigma, exclusion, or criminal penalties for any less-than-ideologically-correct conformity with the transgender mandates.

Recently published is book I view as nothing less than a gift to humanity—as in their time were Common Sense, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, 1984, Night, and Gulag Archipelago.

Lost in Trans Nation: A Child Psychiatrist’s Guide Out of the Madness [xviii]by long-time psychiatrist Miriam Grossman (Skyhorse Publishing, 2023), with a brilliant introduction by Canadian clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson, is a polemic. Dr. Grossman makes no bones about that. But so, too, were the classic works mentioned above.

Dr. Grossman opposes unambiguously any “gender- affirming care” and exposes what is now happening to children and parents not only in America but around the world. Her exposure of the science, medical practice, and vast propaganda literature on “gender identity,” “gender dysphoria,” and “gender affirming care” is consistently painstaking, practical, and passionate. She has treated literally hundreds, perhaps thousands, of individuals and families in America and abroad. Her dedication takes quite a few pages to name them all—by their full names, first names, nicknames… Because she views them not as victims but as heroes. She writes:

“I want the following truths—recognized by everyone on the planet aside from gender studies professors and grad students—to be acknowledged in the first pages of this book:  Sex is not assigned at birth; it is established at conception. Brains always match bodies to which they are attached; we are not the Legos on Mr. Potato heads that might be improperly assembled. Sex is binary. Sex is permanent. Males cannot become females and females cannot become males.”

Dr. Grossman then devotes 360 pages to substantiating these statements and their manifold, ever-widening manifestations. In a series of appendices, she provides tools and ammunition for parents in their battles with schools and teachers, doctors and nurses, assorted busybodies, and, perhaps most crucially, their own children. For example, she provides a legal document that parents may complete and submit to their child’s school to warn the school that any involvement of their child in education or action based on transgender ideology is without their consent, against their express wishes, and in violation of their Constitutional and civil rights, and, if relevant, their religious beliefs. I recommend this book to all parents.

Jordan Peterson writes a compelling introduction that by itself should transform the way parents understand, approach, and deal with the transgender craze and its activist bullies. For his trouble, and regular posts on social media, Dr. Peterson has been ordered by his Canadian province’s professional association, on threat of losing his license to practice, to attend required courses on proper professional conduct on social media. Peterson’s appeal [xix]of the order in court recently was rejected.

Thus, the latest “swarm behavior” by psychiatrists and other practitioners, whose professional associations and healthcare organizations have snapped into line on transgender ideology, is not unopposed. As usual, it is mostly individuals, on their own, who are fighting the battles. That includes activist lawyers, some (non-mainstream) media, the occasional mental health professional, and parents. A book like Trans Nation provides urgently needed information, guidance, and support. Voices of the truly distinguished leaders of the professions like Paul McHugh, however, are rare. When do you ever see one on a TV network or mainstream cable news show?

In time, discoveries in the biomedical sciences may impede the transgender craze. The spectacle of lobotomized patients (my uncle Tony, lobotomized at Worcester State Hospital in his 30’s, died four decades later still hospitalized there), was gradually superseded by the development of psychopharmacology for treatment of epilepsy, depression, polar disorder, and schizophrenia.

The same did not happen with “recovered memories,” but defeat in court of case after case discouraged activist aggression; and perhaps the steady decline in psychoanalysis—as outrageously expensive, endlessly long, and with dubious results—reduced the number of practitioners wedded to the mindset that psychological symptoms always result from suppressed, early sexual conflicts.

Driving the transgender craze is the increasingly large, always activist homosexual community, which has an essential stake in the proposition that “gender” is innate and bears no necessary relationship with sex—that is, “assigned birth sex.” As much as homosexuals have gained influence in all sectors of communications—from advertising to Broadway to Hollywood to the news media—we should recall that throughout all of human history until perhaps the 1960s homosexuality was viewed as a moral failing or a mental health problem. Persecution and discrimination were almost universal. As mentioned earlier in this article, in the 1940s and 1950s, some 40 percent of lobotomies on males in America were for the purpose of “curing” homosexuality. They might today be a little more careful in their cheering for the scalpel.

Acceptance of homosexuality and “gay pride” and omnipresent efforts to give them media glamor and every acknowledgment are historically brand new. And do not exist in many parts of the world.

They must defend at all costs the claim that “gender identity” is independent of an individual’s biological sex, that gender is fixed and unchangeable, and that the only option for making gender and sex congruent is by changing one’s sexual role (becoming “gay” and “lesbian”) or changing one’s external sexual characteristics by means of hormones and/or surgery.

Apparently never willing to dodge controversy and opprobrium at the cost of speaking less than his convictions about the realm of psychiatry, McHugh characterized homosexuality as an “erroneous desire” and supported California’s 2008 same-sex marriage ban. He claimed that sexual orientation is partly a choice. That implies that one’s gender is not determined independently by genetics or physiology but is the individual’s developed psychological response to his or her physical sexual biology as experienced at all stages of life, but perhaps particularly up to and at puberty.

There always were, and are, today, only rare individuals like Paul McHugh; but comments like his remind homosexuals how new—and still not proof against scientific advances—is our “tolerance,” never mind our “celebration,” of homosexuality. That makes utterly critical the pitched battle for ultimate public acknowledgment of “gender fluidity” and its enshrinement in law—acknowledgment that every individual chooses what sex to be and has the option of “trans gendering” into the external semblance of the opposite sex, bringing physical reality into conformity to “deep feelings.” The battle must continue until the day “no sane person” expresses doubt that every individual makes this choice.

The day will never arrive, however, because the battle is on the wrong side of science, reality, and even common sense. And what about such future battles in China, Russia, and all the Islamic countries?

The Roots in Postmodernism

On the deepest level, the transgender ideology and craze are perfect manifestations of postmodernism. Postmodernism is that cluster of philosophical premises, developed for more than a century as the “anti-Enlightenment’ movement, that now pervades universities, especially the humanities, arts, and social science (but increasingly the sciences) and has graduated generations who dominate education, the media, professions from law and politics to broadcasting, and the arts.

Here is a neutral definition from the Britannica:[xx]Postmodernism, in Western philosophy, [is] a late 20th-century movement characterized by broad skepticism, subjectivism, or relativism; a general suspicion of reason; and an acute sensitivity to the role of ideology in asserting and maintaining political and economic power.”

Writing about contradictions apparent in transgender ideology (postmodernism does not view contradictions as a problem), philosopher Ryan T. Anderson[xxi], Ph.D., writes: “We live in a postmodern age that promotes an alternative metaphysics…at the heart of the transgender movement are radical ideas about the human person—in particular, that people are what they claim to be, regardless of contrary evidence. A transgender ‘boy’ is a boy, not merely a girl who identifies as a boy.”

He adds: “Of course, the transgender activists don’t want to have to debate on the level of philosophy, so they dress it up as a scientific and medical claim.”

And finally: “Quite recently, the activist argument was that gender is only a social construct, while sex is a biological reality. Now, activists claim that gender identity is destiny, while biological sex is the social construct…. What does this mean [to take but a single instance] for the use of medicinal agents that have different effects on males and females? Does the proper dosage of medicine depend on the patient’s sex [just a social construct] or gender [the unchangeable reality]?”

Transgender ideology has hitched a ride on a philosophy gaining “market share” since the early nineteenth-century in the German anti-Enlightenment movement.

Rooted in postmodernism, and—as these brief quotations suggest—becoming increasingly consistent with its premises, transgender ideology has hitched a ride on a philosophy gaining “market share” since the early nineteenth-century in the German anti-Enlightenment movement. That movement spawned Friedrich Nietszche, Georg Hegel, Soren Kirkegaard, Karl Marx, and Martin Heidegger. In 1920s and 1930s in Germany both Marxism and National Socialism became competing political parties. In our century, this philosophical tradition [xxii]of “German Idealism” was wed to Marxism by the two fathers of “postmodernism”: Michel Foucault, academic philosopher and member the French Communist Party, and Jacques Derrida, philosopher and Party follower and supporter.

Transgender ideology may thus endure (and continue to evolve more radical positions on “gender identity,” without which it cannot perform its role) as long as postmodernism is the Western world’s intellectual, social, cultural, and political “platform.” Alternatively, advances in genetics, neurophysiology, and even psychiatry may so demolish its claims about gender that it joins eugenics, lobotomy, recovered memories, and other passing passions of psychiatry in the dangerous-medical-waste disposal container.

If it does, and postmodernism still dominates our culture, something more drastic will replace it. To lose the “gender identity” battle is to lose the whole war against the traditional (binary) bourgeois middleclass family structure that still bestrides the high road to the utopia of total social and political communitarian collectivism—the dream bequeathed to our time by the founding father of the anti-Enlightenment, Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

But that is another chapter.
























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