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Raining science on a popular delusional meme

That’s what Paul McHugh, the University Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Medical School does with the notion of “transgenderism”.  McHugh has spent 40 years, 26 as Psychiatrist in Chief of Johns Hopkins Hospital, “studying people who claim to be transgender. ”

The larger issue is the meme itself. The idea that one’s sex is fluid and a matter open to choice runs unquestioned through our culture and is reflected everywhere in the media, the theater, the classroom, and in many medical clinics. It has taken on cult-like features: its own special lingo, internet chat rooms providing slick answers to new recruits, and clubs for easy access to dresses and styles supporting the sex change. It is doing much damage to families, adolescents, and children and should be confronted as an opinion without biological foundation wherever it emerges.

Or said another way, he doesn’t buy the present day “meme” at all.  He finds it destructive.  And the meme is all based in “feelings” rather than science:

The champions of this meme, encouraged by their alliance with the broader LGBT movement, claim that whether you are a man or a woman, a boy or a girl, is more of a disposition or feeling about yourself than a fact of nature. And, much like any other feeling, it can change at any time, and for all sorts of reasons. Therefore, no one could predict who would swap this fact of their makeup, nor could one justifiably criticize such a decision.

At Johns Hopkins, after pioneering sex-change surgery, we demonstrated that the practice brought no important benefits. As a result, we stopped offering that form of treatment in the 1970s. Our efforts, though, had little influence on the emergence of this new idea about sex, or upon the expansion of the number of “transgendered” among young and old.

A little, “been there, done that, it doesn’t hold up”.  That will royally piss off the SJWs who’ve this infantile belief that if you “feel” something, it must be true.  But as we’ve seen and discussed, that meme has taken hold, regardless of its lack of scientific foundation or, frankly, reality:

But the meme—that your sex is a feeling, not a biological fact, and can change at any time—marches on through our society. In a way, it’s reminiscent of the Hans Christian Andersen tale, The Emperor’s New Clothes. In that tale, the Emperor, believing that he wore an outfit of special beauty imperceptible to the rude or uncultured, paraded naked through his town to the huzzahs of courtiers and citizens anxious about their reputations. Many onlookers to the contemporary transgender parade, knowing that a disfavored opinion is worse than bad taste today, similarly fear to identify it as a misapprehension.

I am ever trying to be the boy among the bystanders who points to what’s real. I do so not only because truth matters, but also because overlooked amid the hoopla—enhanced now by Bruce Jenner’s celebrity and Annie Leibovitz’s photography—stand many victims. Think, for example, of the parents whom no one—not doctors, schools, nor even churches—will help to rescue their children from these strange notions of being transgendered and the problematic lives these notions herald. These youngsters now far outnumber the Bruce Jenner type of transgender. Although they may be encouraged by his public reception, these children generally come to their ideas about their sex not through erotic interests but through a variety of youthful psychosocial conflicts and concerns.

Yes, he said it … many go along out of “fear” of having a “disfavored opinion”.  Luckily, I’m not one of those – nor, apparently is Dr. McHugh.  And to those of us without such fear, this emperor has had no clothes for quite some time.  Where does all of this delusional empathy produce?

First, though, let us address the basic assumption of the contemporary parade: the idea that exchange of one’s sex is possible. It, like the storied Emperor, is starkly, nakedly false. Transgendered men do not become women, nor do transgendered women become men. All (including Bruce Jenner) become feminized men or masculinized women, counterfeits or impersonators of the sex with which they “identify.” In that lies their problematic future.

When “the tumult and shouting dies,” it proves not easy nor wise to live in a counterfeit sexual garb. The most thorough follow-up of sex-reassigned people—extending over thirty years and conducted in Sweden, where the culture is strongly supportive of the transgendered—documents their lifelong mental unrest. Ten to fifteen years after surgical reassignment, the suicide rate of those who had undergone sex-reassignment surgery rose to twenty times that of comparable peers.

There is nothing “scientific” about the assumptions of the meme, in fact, they’re blatantly anti-science.  And indulging them can lead to catastrophic results, such as the suicide rates suffered by those who undergo such sex-reassignment surgery.

Most young boys and girls who come seeking sex-reassignment are utterly different from Jenner. They have no erotic interest driving their quest. Rather, they come with psychosocial issues—conflicts over the prospects, expectations, and roles that they sense are attached to their given sex—and presume that sex-reassignment will ease or resolve them.

The grim fact is that most of these youngsters do not find therapists willing to assess and guide them in ways that permit them to work out their conflicts and correct their assumptions. Rather, they and their families find only “gender counselors” who encourage them in their sexual misassumptions.

Treatment.  Psychiatric treatment and counseling.  Or to say the words that a certain community and its activists will loathe – it’s not a choice, it’s a disorder.

Bottom line:

What is needed now is public clamor for coherent science—biological and therapeutic science—examining the real effects of these efforts to “support” transgendering. Although much is made of a rare “intersex” individual, no evidence supports the claim that people such as Bruce Jenner have a biological source for their transgender assumptions. Plenty of evidence demonstrates that with him and most others, transgendering is a psychological rather than a biological matter.

In fact, gender dysphoria—the official psychiatric term for feeling oneself to be of the opposite sex—belongs in the family of similarly disordered assumptions about the body, such as anorexia nervosa and body dysmorphic disorder. Its treatment should not be directed at the body as with surgery and hormones any more than one treats obesity-fearing anorexic patients with liposuction. The treatment should strive to correct the false, problematic nature of the assumption and to resolve the psychosocial conflicts provoking it. With youngsters, this is best done in family therapy.

Interesting.  Sure to make waves … or it should.

Most likely, it will be dismissed as some sort of “right wing” conspiracy to deny choice.  Oh, and McHugh is also likely to attacked … for speaking out about something he’s spent a lifetime studying.

But such is the fate of those who fight the ‘meme’.  Good thing he didn’t tell a bad joke about women or have a recent photo in a “sexist” shirt floating around the internet – he’d have the fems on him too.

Make sure you read the whole article.  Especially the part about what is or isn’t allowed as treatment for this delusion.


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28 Responses to Raining science on a popular delusional meme

  • Try to catch a re-run or video of last night’s Charlie Rose program. It’s a panel of scientists and doctors on transgenderism. I’ve never in my lifetime seen anything like it, but it was a window into the laboratories of eugenicists past. I only watched a few minutes of it and I was flabbergasted.

    • I guess that is the thing isn’t it? The more things change, the more they stay the same. We have narcissistic libertines telling us to get into the 21st century when a little critical thought shows that the year 2015 is scarily similar to 1915. What is done to these kids is no better than what was done to people then in the name of scientific fact. Bruce Jenner can do what he likes, he is rich and old and can float his boat however he likes. But, kids? I guess I am just jumpy with three little kids going into school.

      • You didn’t know that there are 5 year olds that at known for a fact to know they are gay. And many near that age which are transgender and have been subjected to hormone treatments.

        A kid that doesn’t even know what it means to be straight or even was sex in the most broadest of terms means knows he’s gay or a kid that could want to be a ‘firetruck’ as much as anything else gets hormone treatments.

        The left doesn’t care about potential chemical mutilations. They want a boy who can pass for a hot chick. They want to dupe hetero males into lusting after said person and then turn around and expose that she is a he. With the argument, see gender doesn’t matter. The only way you will get such a convincing person is to pump them full of steroid starting as close to birth as possible. Even then, it will be one out of many.

      • We still have Mengele and Hitlers aplenty. Really, what made them who they were was not that they are all that “monstrous” in terms of human experience, but that they had a machine at their disposal, forged by the Collective, that has rarely existed in history.

        There would be more if the conditions were right.

  • Back in the day when men were men and women were women, and they liked it that way …

  • The idea that one has an “inner gender”, and that a simple decision can change the outer gender to the inner gender, has only been accepted even on the left relatively recently. Note, though, that it is entirely consistent with post-modernism’s “there is no objective truth” foundation. If there is no objective truth, then even physiological and genetic evidence about a person’s gender is open to question.

    There have been related notions floating through the left for a long time. I am particularly amused by what I guess we might call transcognitism. This is the idea that a not-very-bright person can take on the trappings of being smart, insist that they are in fact smart, and ignore all real world indicators that they are dumb as a hammer. They are supported by other members of the left who are themselves cognitively impaired, or perhaps with normal intelligence but not inclined to challenge an ally who is out of touch with reality. After all, all members of the left are all out of touch with reality. It’s a matter of degree, really.

    There are plenty of examples of transcognitism on the left: politicians such as Maxine Waters, Barbara Boxer, and Hank (“Guam might capsize”) Johnson, various celebrities who comment on politics, and journalists such as Fareed Zakaria and the myriad other incompetents behind the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect.

    And, of course, we contend with a particularly egregious example from Maine in our comment section from time to time.

  • From what I can tell as usual there’s a small percentage driving this insanity train.
    They just have megaphones.

    • This may seem incongruous, but bear with me a bit…

      One of the MOST striking memes that I’ve noted in the whole Roof/Charleston mass killings affair is the number of people who knew Roof, knew his hatred, knew his intentions, and said or did nothing.

      Their statements run along the lines of, “Yeah, he was a racist with plans to kill. But who am I to judge?”

      And there is the lesson; we have been so conditioned as to be impotent to “judge” great evil…or even minor evil…call it what it is, and deal with it in anything like a human…and humane…manner. When people are planning to do evil to others or themselves, our current culture tells us our only politically correct course is to suck our teeth.

      That is simply wrong. It is, in fact, lethal. We do the same thing with Islamism.

      • When people are planning to do evil to others or themselves, our current culture tells us our only politically correct course is to suck our teeth.

        Unless it is a microagression, or a poorly chosen twitter comment or the like. Then you are within your rights to whip up a lynch mob and destroy their lives completely out of proportion to the “crime”. Stopping a murderer? Letting a child grow up? Not so much.


          I thought that video very instructive. I wonder how many would even brand that hate “hate”?

          And what you said is entirely true. If you or I made the socially intolerable statement, “The job/slot/promotion should go to the person most qualified” in some quarters we’d be descended on by legions of flying monkey nannies to shame us into re-education.

          • It isn’t hate if it is the justifiable response of a minority, punching up/down and all that sjw jazz. I am not sure why they were so desperate to not label Roof as mentally disturbed/insane/whatever, it doesn’t change the crime or his eventual incarceration. It must be so that they can then project the actions of a “sane” whiteman on to the rest of the white population, even though the stats do not support any such view. Somehow I think that out in sjw land there is a terrible realization that voting for a blackman who said he’d heal the world didn’t actually make it a better place (apologies to the king of pop there). But, “cracker” lady wants a race war… does she really think that is a good idea?

          • cracker lady looks around and see a whole world that looks like her.

            She’d probably think a lot less positively of her idea if she, say, visited a Wal-Mart in someplace like Fort Scott Kansas, (or, uh, MooseSqueeze Maine) and realized the whole world didn’t actually “look like her”, but rather looked like the nasty little b-tard that committed this atrocity.

            It’s hard to remember you may not be the majority when almost everyone around you looks like you do.

      • What’s freaking me out is all of his black friends.

        This strongly suggests they thought it was just an act or he was cray-cray.

        • Were they actually his friends, though? Or were they just people he’d ‘friended’ (or added, or whatever it is) on FB?

  • Isn’t this merely an extension of the same stuff that brought us #OccupyWallStreet ?

    There are unhappy .. they are disillusioned … they have no solutions, only hand waving.

    At least the #OccupyWallStreet idiots were smart enough to know that they couldn’t formulate even a set of demands.
    These folks go straight to self mutilation.
    I wonder what happens when they figure out that they are still unhappy.

  • Bruce, McHugh is a fraud. He’s the global warmist of gender research. He cherry picks his data to end up at his already stated conclusion. He claims conclusions the data he has cannot say anything about yea or nay.

    A person’s genitals, and from that what puberty they will experience, is defined by differentiation taking place in the first trimester. Almost all the brain’s sexual differentiation takes place in the 2nd.

    There’s no stretch at all, but it is a certainty, that if for any reason and to the extent that they do, experience contrary hormone exposure from one trimester to another, a person is liable to experience the symptoms of being transgendered, which is a birth defect and nothing to do with a delusion. A lower bound on the occurrence of the birth defect is around 1 in 30,0000, and upper bound 1 in 300, depending on how broadly you want to define the symptoms–primarily how girly a male to female TG person insists on being and how early in life, since MtF is a big deal in gender research and society, but somehow FtM isn’t, although it’s equally interesting.

    The experience of people who were referred to the other very influential gender research fraud Dr. Money, such as Mr. David Reimer, confirmed the sole location of gender as being present at birth in the brain and independent of later hormone exposure and social pressure/upbringing.

    Generally, boys are boys and girls are girls–and this is true even if someone with male genitals ends up with a girl brain between the ears, and vice versa. A girl with a penis grown between her legs isn’t happy about about it, and neither is a boy with a vagina.

    The only currently possible treatment for the birth defect is hormone and surgical therapy to correct the body as much as possible to conform to the brain, and it only helps a person with this birth defect to the extent it permits them to conform to what reasonable expectations of a gendered social role the sufferer has.

    What the other girls are doing is cultural, wanting to do what the other girls are doing in inborn.

    Please do independent research and do not show case this man’s lies and half truths.

    • Eh, that’s supposed to be 1/300 & 1/30,000.

    • Should also add, if this is going to be the next fad diagnosis like ADHD, it has nothing to do with the validity of the underlying syndrome.

    • What did I miss … seems to me he’s saying “boys are boys and girls are girls” and anything else is delusional.

      • He’s saying a lot more than that. His essential premise is that transgenderism is always or almost always a delusion, that the gonads and the puberty developing from that rule the day, essentially that God doesn’t allow contrary mistakes to be made. There is such a plethora of 100% known and obviously purely genetic things that go wrong with the development of sex that this is belief of his is self-evidently a delusion on his part, a delusion at best. Start with the differing varieties of AIS–a baby can appear to be abjectly a female, be raised as such, be utterly comfortable with that role psychologically*–and then be devastated when after menses don’t begin by the late teens, she learns that she has vestigal testicles, no ovaries, no uterus, and cannot be a mother. Despite this there is not one outwardly or mentally phenotypically male thing about her. She’s simply a female.with a birth defect.

        *And we know you can’t take a normal boy who is mutilated in the first weeks of life and raise them as a girl, a la David Reimer per Money’s theory. Money’s another quack like McHugh. Money’s idiocy was to hold nurture entirely above nature. McHugh’s idiocy is to say nature never, ever–at least not at statistically meaningful numbers–does this; create the TG birth defect. He is so sure it is impossible or rare he is perfectly fine witholding hormonal and surgical treatment from people no matter how closely they meet even the strictest definition of being transgendered. The monstrous stupidity that was inflicted on David Reimer, trying to use psychotherapy to convince someone they are of a gender they are not, is the malpractice McHugh desires to see inflicted on every person with the TG birth defect.. McHugh not just a quack, he’s a monster like Money.

      • “seems to me he’s saying “boys are boys and girls are girls” and anything else is delusional”

        To try to put it more simply, he’s saying what appear to be boys are always only boys, what appear to be girls are always only girls, and nothing to the contrary ever happens, and even if it happens, it happens so infrequently we should always treat everyone like it never happens to the contrary. This isn’t medicine on McHugh’s part, it’s an extension of his view of Catholic dogma that nothing must ever be allowed to interfere with fertility in any way.

        He’s a quack.

        • Yup, sorry, not reading it that way at all.

          • Okay, where is he saying transition with hormones and surgery are the appropriate treatment for the TG birth defect, as opposed to counseling to encourage to live in a manner consistent with what is between their legs as opposed to between their ears?

          • “encourage to”

            should be

            “encourage them to”

          • Although much is made of a rare “intersex” individual, no evidence supports the claim that people such as Bruce Jenner have a biological source for their transgender assumptions. Plenty of evidence demonstrates that with him and most others, transgendering is a psychological rather than a biological matter.

            (emphasis mine)

            It seems to me that what McHugh saying here is not ‘boys are always boys and girls are always girls,’ it’s that that’s the case in the vast majority of instances. Maybe he says elsewhere that ‘reassignment’ treatment is not the correct route for anyone, ever, but there are no such absolutes in these excerpts.

            As far as the AIS birth defect goes, a read through the page on wikipedia (so keep the salt shaker handy) says that the incidence of the complete syndrome (with genetic confirmation) is 1/99,000 and the incidence of the partial syndrome is 1/130,000. That qualifies as ‘extremely rare.’ It also has a demonstrable physical expression, not just some nebulous ‘ah feel lahk a woman’ chorus. If you’re talking about a perfectly healthy non-intersexed body of either sex, unless there’s some way to scientifically determine the brain is biologically the other one, then I’m with McQ and McHugh. Don’t go mutilating it based on a delusion (and ‘delusional’ and ‘birth defect’ are not mutually exclusive).

  • First a note about the actual range of incidence of AIS


    Mainly using data on the frequency of inguinal (groin) hernia in presumed females, Jagiello and Atwell estimated the frequency of AIS to be about 1 in 65,000 genetic males. This presumably refers only to the complete form (CAIS), since the infants were assumed to be female until the occurrence of the hernia. DeGroot quotes an incidence of about 1 in 60,000. Hauser gives an incidence of 1 in 2,000. Adams-Smith et al give a figure of 1 in 20,000. The most accurate figure currently available is probably that from an analysis (Bangsboll et al.) of a nationwide Danish patient register, suggesting an incidence of 1 in 20,400 male births (hospitalized cases only, so the true incidence is probably higher). CAIS has been said to rank third as a cause of primary amenorrhoea (lack of menstruation), after gonadal dysgenesis (Turner Syndrome) and congenital absence of the vagina (Mayer-Rokitansky-Kuster-Hauser syndrome).

    Complete AIS (CAIS) is sometimes referred to as ‘classical testicular feminization’ (‘classical testicular feminisation’), CAIS may be more common than PAIS (the ‘partial’ form of the condition) but we don’t have incidence figures for PAIS. ”