Confused Ethics Observations On Caitlyn Jenner, Up and Down the Cognitive Dissonance Scale

Cognitive DissonanceThis whole episode is pure cognitive dissonance hell for me, with high scale values clashing with low scale conduct, and the result being as hard to analyze neatly and dispassionately as the aftermath of an elevator crash. But I’m a fool, so I’ll take a shot at it anyway.

1. Bruce, now Caitlyn, Jenner’s openness about his transsexual issues is brave and may yet help this misunderstood and routinely derided group achieve acceptance. PLUS.

2. She should have played ethics chess, however, and as a public figure who, she now says, always planned this transition, was irresponsible not to. Associating herself with the traveling freak, venality, bad taste and atrocious values caravan known as the Kardashians guaranteed that anything she did thereafter would be a legitimate object of suspicion. MINUS.

3. Turning her transition from Bruce to Caitlyn into a reality show was similarly counter-productive and harmful to her cause, assuming the cause really matters to her. I doubt that it does.  Reality shows equal schlock, emotionalism, manipulation, phoniness—and money. That won’t help the trans population. MINUS.

4. As the first bona fide celebrity to undergo gender reassignment (no, I don’t call Chastity Bono a real celebrity), Jenner could have handled this in a modest, measured manner that made trans people look reasonable, dignified, and rational. Unfortunately, Bruce Jenner was always a fame-addicted narcissist,  so her handling of the process is what you’d expect from one. Too bad. MINUS.

5. Thus we have the over-praised, over exposed, over-hyped, Vanity Fair cover, which is pure sensationalism, an exploitation of a serious issue for magazine sales, and a fraud. (Literally anyone can be dressed, shaved, and made up to look feminine.) Is Jenner interested in legitimizing and de-stigmatizing gender reassignment, or getting hubba-hubbas for a titillating man-to-bimbo transformation? Is Playboy next for Caitlyn? Don’t bet against it. MINUS for Vanity Fair; MINUS for Jenner

6. Is this really the way an ethical father kindly, sensitively and responsibly handles this kind of tectonic life change when he has six children and four step-children, including teenaged daughters? Admittedly, the daughters are crypto-Kardashians, so normal rules of delicacy might not apply. Still… MINUS for Jenner.

7. Republicans, conservatives and Neanderthals who are incapable of comprehending this serious topic should shut up about it.  There is grounds to criticize many aspects of this episode in American culture, but just making snarky comments like Neil Cavuto did on Fox is unproductive, unkind, divisive, and, frankly—I’ve been on Neil’s show, and I hate to say it—makes one look like an ass. If you don’t understand what’s going on, Neil, there’s no law that says you have to cover it. MINUS for Cavuto.

8. I had to shut off TV to get way from the breathless coverage of Jenner’s “coming out” photo. This isn’t respectful or responsible coverage, this is “Look! Bruce Jenner is HOT!!! She has BOOBS!” coverage, juvenile, degrading, and transparently salacious. It shouts “freak,” and that is exactly what Jenner should not want, nor should any LGBT advocate. Of course, the conduct of Vanity Fair and Jenner asked for it. MINUS for the news media.

9. To the extent that Jenner’s act promotes more public discussion and understanding of the issues facing trans individuals, this all may have a beneficial effect that may outweigh the negatives. Right now, there is too much static to tell. PLUS.

I hope.

101 thoughts on “Confused Ethics Observations On Caitlyn Jenner, Up and Down the Cognitive Dissonance Scale

  1. My basic thought is that I couldn’t care any less about Bruce Jenner or Caitlyn Jenner, and there are real things to be concerned about in this world other than what Mr. Kardashian, much less any of his family, is doing. One narcissist in the headlines every day is enough.

  2. Ha ha, yes the whole thing is quite a spectacle.

    I’m pretty much in agreement with you about all that, with maybe one tweak: I got the distinct sense watching the last three shows that Bruce/Caitlin had gotten pretty savvy about media by laying back and watching the she-bat that was his wife. Say what you like about her – and I despise that inanity that is Kardashian as much as anyone – but give her props for knowing how to make money and make an impression on the world. And I think he had laid back and begun to lay plans to hijack the whole show.

    I’m more positive than you about the likely impact of the Jenner tv show on the trans community. As to how he handled things with his kids, I suggest no one make judgment unless you watched his interactions with them. They remain among his biggest fans, attesting to what a great parent he always was.

  3. What’s real and what’s photo-shopped on a magazine cover? No one can tell. I think the cover deserves a big fat MINUS all its own. That’s not how she looks in real life, it’s a magazine cover, for God’s sake. Which is terribly unethical and doesn’t help.

  4. I suspect the negative comments I’ve heard were because all the intermediate stages in others were off-stage instead of the glare of mass media. That intermediate stage is still stuck in several people’s heads and the cover of Vanity Fair is not enough to erase the halfling appearance. I can’t think that kind of publicity will make it easier or help others’ transition.

    And reality shows do not promote respect or avoid sensationalism, so a interviewing/science documentary show would do far more for those wanting the came transformation who are not famous or wealthy. there’s a big difference between being confident and being a self-centered exhibitionist. And I think Chas is a celeb who did it far better.

    • “reality shows do not promote respect…”

      While I think that’s almost always true, this may have been the one exception. The usual train wreck stuff was completely gone in Bruce’s conversation with his kids and ex-wife; my gf and I both commented, “Wow, that was some genuinely moving and honest TV – and of all places for it to come from!”

      I don’t know if that was a typical reaction, but if it was – then there’s a whole lot of people, a lot more than Chas Bono touched, who now have a far more human understanding of what it means to be trans.

      • Agreed that is very unexpected. But having that come out of ‘reality tv’ is just luck, not when the shows encourage, stage, and display the worst and bias in participants and viewers. Just because someone shows well in train-wreck doesn’t mean we seek them out or watch the intersection 24/7.

  5. I say it’s feeding delusions. If I say “I am Napoleon” and show up in a bicorn with my hand inside my coat, you’d say I was crazy, and you’d be right. But if I say “I am a woman” and engage in elective mutilation, suddenly I’m some kind of courageous hero, bigger than Lincoln and Washington combined. This is just plain crazy and represents the ultimate selective denial of reality.

  6. Jenner had his/her moment winning the decathlon in 1976 and a well deserved place on the Wheaties box. Since then, there is nothing of interest to me regarding Jenner’s subsequent career.

    • You need better role models. Snowden was a better whistleblower, and there are more ethical and less controversial transitioned people to put up there.

        • FM: I don’t see how you can reach that conclusion. Manning presumed to make a decision beyond his responsibility and comprehension, and handed secrets over to an unstable, anti-American, anarchist sociopath, which is exactly what Assange is. He should be executed for treason; anything he uncovered is pure moral luck. It doesn’t exonerate Manning at all.

          • Absolutely, Jack. And Fattymoon… you say the Iraq War was “f****d up”? Just how badly do we have to kick some bad guy’s ass before we get credit for winning a war. There was nothing wrong with the war’s conduct (both times) or the motivation behind it. What’s gone wrong since is a matter of incompetent and (essentially) treasonous direction from the White House.

            • What war do you speak of, Steven? Can’t be the same war I’m thinking of, a war based on lies, predicated on greed, sacrificing the lives of our men and women. Ever read Riverbend’s account? I was teaching 7th grade social studies and, having established an ongoing email exchange with her, I would read her letters (with her permission) to the class. The boys sat there with mouths agape, while most of the girls would weep quietly.

              The war was a cluster fuck and the major players, from Bush on down, are criminals who escaped justice because of people brainwashed by the mass media.

              So, you wanna read Riverbend’s account, or do you wish to remain blind and obedient?


              • Who the hell is “Riverbend”?? “Around the bend” seems more apt! Fatty: There was more than enough reason to go after Saddam even without the factor of “Weapons of Mass Destruction”. Note, too, that this term includes not only nuclear/radiological weapons, but chemical and biological ones as well. We already knew for a fact that Saddam had the latter two, for he openly USED them… and on his own people. But even that was secondary against his obvious intention to dominate the entire Persian Gulf area (at least) with the armed force inherent in one of the biggest mechanized armies ever fielded in history. Dictators don’t create forces like that without the clear intent of using them. That purpose solidified for even the casual observer with his murderous invasion and subsequent sacking of Kuwait. Saudi Arabia and the other oil rich countries of the Arabian Peninsula were next… and they were well aware of it. Their fall would have had enormous economical and political consequences across the world. Saddam had to be stopped. Our Armed Forces did that… and brilliantly.

          • Jack, Manning felt a moral responsibility which trumped his day to day responsibilities, just as I felt a moral responsibility to inform high school students that the NSA was spying on their private lives, for which act I was fired from my job as a substitute teacher; I was informed that, as a substitute teacher I was duty bound to follow the lesson plans and not to deviate from them. In point of view, I was aware of this requirement going in and ignored it for what I believed, and still believe, was the greater good.

            As for Assange, your statements are not demonstrably true. They are merely opinions. Millions of people would disagree with your assessment, hence, there’s no point in my attempting a rebuttal. We agree to disagree.

            • If Manning felt that he had to do something, and I’m not going to argue there wasn’t anything of merit to what he revealed, so if he felt he had to, instead of handing it over to a random Swedish blogger, he should have handed it over to a major news outlet. One with ethics. That’s what makes Snowden a better whistleblower, not the content of the releases. What Manning did directly endangered covert operatives. It’s very possible that people died because Manning was an idiot. Just like you. And if no one died, it was pure moral luck.

              • Still unethical, but certainly a less treasonous course and easier to argue for as legitimate whistle-blowing. Ethical whistle-blowing requires taking every possible step to minimize harm to all parties beyond what is necessary to blow that whistle. Manning flunks that ethics test, and he also had neither the knowledge, position, intelligence, experience or any other quality to presume to over-rule and sabotage the judgement of his superiors. I don’t want low-level, psychologically unstable, suicidal grunts like Manning messing with national security trade-offs. It’s scary enough having trained specialists doing it. He was a bull in a china shop, and the china included US welfare and lives. He can only be a hero to those who just like seeing china smashed….like Julian Assange.

                  • It shouldn’t be. Whistleblowing should almost per say be ethical. I think though, that there’s an argument that what Snowden and Manning did wasn’t actually whistleblowing, because there is a prescribed order of operations as to how you are supposed to disclose your information and both the Guardian and Julian Assange would be much further down the list than either of them got.

                    • Whistleblowing is ethical when it’s ethical. There’s plenty of self-serving, vindictive, hypocritical,ignorant, harmful, dangerous whistleblowing—aka unethical whistleblowing. In some professions, whistleblowing is per se unethical, and must remain so, unless you think every defense lawyer representing a guilty client should give him up.

                      Do you? I would advise against it.

              • Name me a major news source with “ethics”, Humble. The rare few that have any sense of what the term implies would not have touched any proffered classified information in the first place and quickly reported it to the FBI.

                • It’s a spectrum. It sure as heck isn’t MSNBC, it isn’t FOX, but it sure as fuck isn’t Julian Assange.

              • I whole heartedly agree with you, HT. I am, indeed, an idiot. Ya know why I’m an idiot and you’re not? Cause I HAVEN’T WATCHED TV SINCE 1973 and you have. Every day. Day in, day out. It’s called brain washing. And now, thank you very much for the compliment. I’m so happy I’m about to pleasure myself with a salad fork. 😜

      • Read that, thank you. Tell me, how does that series of disturbing incidents (assuming they are factually correct) negate what Manning did regarding his release of documents revealing just how fucked up the Iraq war was?

        • It does not negate it. Nor does leaking documents, if you think that praiseworthy, negate the male-pattern violence against women. This isn’t the long long ago when that was socially acceptable. A personal hero need not be perfect but I don’t think it’s too much to ask that they be decent.

          On that count both Manning and Jenner fail.

          ON the other hand there’s Lana Warshowski who to be the best of my knowledge is a decent personal and activists whose only major failing is in making some truly awful movies. That’s a forgivable flaw, no one has to watch the movies if they don’t want to after all.

          • The article you cited presents a very one sided portrait, and it may very well be factually accurate, however, I feel there are several puzzle pieces missing from the account, namely, why Manning’s hostile attitude
            towards this particular woman? Was it because she was his immediate superior? Did Manning’s emotional turmoil, presumably a product of the war’s atrocities committed by his fellow soldiers which he was duty bound by oath to keep secret, gnaw at his conscience?

            Not excusing Manning’s conduct, just trying to understand the underlying reasons for it.

  7. There’s nothing “brave” about it. HE is a fruitcake being played up by other fruitcakes… notably, his own family which is comprised solely of fruitcakes. Little wonder that he/she/it is being featured on the cover of Vanity Fair, the periodical of Fruitcakes International.

  8. I hate to say this… And I’m going to coach this in all kinds of qualifying language. But I don’t entirely disagree with Steve on this one. Maybe not the way he means it, but this community needs help.

    Transsexuality isn’t generally well understood, the public isn’t educated, the media doesn’t care past the talking points, and because of the sexual connotations, the average person doesn’t want to know. My understanding, and full disclosure, it isn’t expertise, but my understanding is that the vast majority of people suffering from gender dysphoria fall into one of two camps: People suffering from a physical condition (brain chemistry does not match body chemistry) or a mental condition.

    There’s a stigma surrounding mental illness that I think has driven the discussion from giving people in this situation the help they really need, and we’ve defaulted to sexual reassignment therapy. And even if sexual reassignment therapy is the most appropriate way of treating the symptom, it doesn’t cure the disease, transsexuals have the highest rate of suicide of any demographic in the western world, and that includes post op transitioned people. Treating someone who sees spiders crawling on his walls by fumigating his house doesn’t really help him.

    • My issue is that it doesn’t help a group that is, reasonably, saying, “Don’t treat us like freaks; we’re just people, trying to live our lives; we’re different, but everybody’s different” for its public face to be someone exploiting that difference, and prurient, disrespectful intrigue in it, for publicity and profit.

      • From another perspective, an E-network show might be seen by many (many millions, in fact) as simply today’s bully pulpit. Not clear at all to me that it’s harmful; in fact, I suspect the contrary.

        On an issue so poorly understood, a great plebeian public airing might be just the ticket.

        • I agree that the discussion on the show between Jenner and Kris was good TV, and seemed to be genuine, but you never know. The problem, Charles, is that the format has no trustworthiness and no integrity. Reality shows are scripted, at least loosely. How do we know that conversation wasn’t worked out in advance? They were both performers. Bottom line: it’s not trustworthy. I don’t see how a dishonest, manipulated product is going to advance the truth, in part because that’s not its objective, and never is.

          • Ha ha, you have more faith in their acting ability than I do. Or in the scriptwriters, for that matter; I’d only believe that were scripted if you told me David Mamet were on the staff.

            It had the flavor of ‘real’ to me, and clearly it seemed so to you as well; it’s just your suspicious nature keeping you from trusting your own instincts, Jack 🙂

      • No community is obligated to take time out to repudiate every single bad actor, yet much would be accomplished by the simple expedient of not fawning over them and allowing celebrity to negate the bad acts.

    • HT, I find that a thoughtful and helpful comment, for the most part. I certainly get (and agree with, as another layman amateur) the brain/body chemistry definition.

      Though as to the mental illness category: I would add to your analogy of the spider, that treating someone with “gay disease” as if they have mental illness is I think at this point pretty much proven not to help. The greater suicide rates are not just due to a mental illness, but to society’s rejection of such people as – for example – mentally ill, rather than just people who are different. And I strongly suspect that’s the same with trans people.

      • I actually considered those parallels when I was writing; we know that pray the gay away doesn’t work, we know that suicide rates among the group is high, medicine might very well eventually definitively find some receptor somewhere to reassign someone’s preferences, and it very well might be a mental illness. I struggle with that sometimes. Would I take that treatment? It would definitely make some things easier, but at 30 , I’ve built a life around who I am.

        Regardless, upwards of 50% of transgendered youth surveyed said they’d seriously considered suicide, and half of those said that they’d made an attempt. Even if those attempts were all cries for help…. They’re falling on deaf ears. We don’t want or need to sardine them all into psychology offices, but having support lines, community centers, guidance offices. In that same survey that found a 50% suicide rate, the respondents said that 2% of them were violently attacked when seeking help. The idea that recognizing mental illness exacerbates mental illness is a really shitty way to deal with this even if there are cases where it’s true.

    • I gotta chime in on this one cause, well, take what I’m about to say for what it’s worth. I had a child in Pre-K whose dad was once his mom. One night I had a terrible nightmare. The child’s dad’s head was rotating, violently, back and forth back and forth, at a speed such that the movement became a blur. In conjunction with the very disturbing visual, my dream explicitly told me that. The reason for this disturbing behavior was because the parent was suffering severe emotional distress, i.e. “Am II his father or his mother?”

      The dream was either a truth telling as to the emotional state of the parent, or it was a reflection of my own subliminal anxieties pertaining to the subject at hand. I tend to believe it was the former.

  9. Just was alerted to some especially idiotic typos here, including “ne” for “be” and “shanved” for “shaved.” I don’t feel so ban about misspelling Neanderthal, because 1) I always have and 2) they couldn’t spell it either/

    I’m sorry.

  10. My comment may be apropos of nothing with respect to gender identity and this post, but I find the historical revisionism currently underway with respect to Jenner’s Olympic performances. records and medals county. Jenner’s Wikipedia page has already been changed – all pronouns refer to the feminine, with explanation that the medals and records were set prior to gender transition. GLAAD has issued a statement requiring/instructing/suggesting that male pronouns should be avoided in favor of the female/feminine. GLAAD stated, “DO avoid male pronouns and Caitlyn’s prior name, even when referring to events in her past. For example, ‘Prior to her transition, Caitlyn Jenner won the gold medal in the men’s decathlon at the Summer Olympics held in Montreal in 1976.'” Therein lies the conundrum – what does society do with Jenner’s past?

    Yet, rewriting history for the sake of someone’s sensibilities seems morally and ethically wrong. Moreover, the Left’s fascination with identity politics collapses under the weight of its own inconsistencies: If Jenner was always a woman but did not have the self-awareness to know it or act upon it, then shouldn’t the records Jenner set be rewritten as well? For instance, shouldn’t Jenner’s Olympic records now be moved to the women’s slots? Shouldn’t Jenner be the 1976 Women’s Decathlon Gold Medalist and those times now set the standards for all future (as of 1976) women decathletes? What about the records set or held by heteronormative ciswomen? Should those be rewritten, too, and if those times are not better than Jenner’s times, should their records be scrubbed? If the Left’s theology/ideology were to control, i.e., that gender is irrelevant and there is no difference between men and women (because any recognition of gender differences is symptomatic of white male privilege), all are equal, then, yes, they should. Jenner’s records should now be the standards for women, as well as men. After all, the records were set when Jenner competed as a man. Yet, demanding that society acceptance of Jenner was always as woman, Jenner’s records should also be the standards for women, as well.

    Ethically, the Golden Rule would apply to how society treats Jenner, and anyone else for that matter. I would agree. There is no reason or justification for humiliating Jenner. That is cruel. However, the opposite side of the Golden Rule does not necessarily apply: The demand that, not only must society accept Jenner’s transition out of charity or compassion, but that society must adopt it as its own. Society, too, must accept that Jenner is and always has been, in truth, a woman. Ian Tuttle writes an interesting piece posted on National Review Online:


  11. My concern is that we have now done away with the DSM codes. Everything is “normal”. I read recently of the newest trans population called trans -abled. These are folks that feel a particular part of their body makes them unhappy and seek to have it amputated.[ IE my right arm causes me psychic discomfort please amputate it.] We are disregarding, in these cases, psychic abnormality. Rather than address the issue we are allowing socio-political correctness to reign.

    • I have Breitbart’s RSS feed too. Every now and again Google trends will start to track a new word invented by the identity politics grievance industry that is primarily headquartered in Tumblr and Twitter. “normative” “problematic” “cis” “microagression” and now “trans”.

      Transsexual is a word we’ve dealt with for a relatively long time, but now they’re starting to stick trans- in front of a lot of things and are expecting the population at large to deal with them with the same gravity as transsexual. Trans-able is relatively new, but a better example might be trans-racial, the most famous example being Michael Jackson.

      Barring study finding that melanin content can have a direct influence on body chemistry, I think it’s fairly safe to say that trans-racial people are suffering from mental illness, or are attention grabbing. But I have this grotesque picture running through my head where instead of giving these people the help they actually need, they go the way of Michael and undergo a series of body altering surgeries, because that’s becomes somehow a better or easier solution.

      And again, that’s fumigating the imaginary spiders….

    • Just because you’ve only just now heard of something, that doesn’t make it new. Body dysmorphic disorder’s been around for awhile now.

      I enjoy a good rant against political correctness as much as the next person but would it have killed you to spend 5 minutes researching your topic before turning on the outrage?

  12. I was thinking about raising this in a whole new post, but there’s a lot backing up. Paul McHugh wrote a useful essay about transgender re-assignment surgery that raise some issues being swept under the rug, perhaps, in the pursuit of gender politics goals. He may be right and he may be wrong—I’m sure GLAAD sees him as Satan, but his points sound reasonable to me. He writes in part… [The bolding is mine]

    The government and media alliance advancing the transgender cause has gone into overdrive in recent weeks. On May 30, a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services review board ruled that Medicare can pay for the “reassignment” surgery sought by the transgendered—those who say that they don’t identify with their biological sex. Earlier last month Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said that he was “open” to lifting a ban on transgender individuals serving in the military. Time magazine, seeing the trend, ran a cover story for its June 9 issue called “The Transgender Tipping Point: America’s next civil rights frontier.”

    Yet policy 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. …With body dysmorphic disorder, an often socially crippling condition, the individual is consumed by the assumption “I’m ugly.” These disorders occur in subjects who have come to believe that some of their psycho-social conflicts or problems will be resolved if they can change the way that they appear to others. Such ideas work like ruling passions in their subjects’ minds and tend to be accompanied by a solipsistic argument.

    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… 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…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.

    There are subgroups of the transgendered, and for none does “reassignment” seem apt. One group includes male prisoners like Pvt. Bradley Manning, the convicted national-security leaker who now wishes to be called Chelsea. Facing long sentences and the rigors of a men’s prison, they have an obvious motive for wanting to change their sex and hence their prison. Given that they committed their crimes as males, they should be punished as such; after serving their time, they will be free to reconsider their gender.

    Another subgroup consists of young men and women susceptible to suggestion from “everything is normal” sex education, amplified by Internet chat groups. These are the transgender subjects most like anorexia nervosa patients: They become persuaded that seeking a drastic physical change will banish their psycho-social problems. “Diversity” counselors in their schools, rather like cult leaders, may encourage these young people to distance themselves from their families and offer advice on rebutting arguments against having transgender surgery. Treatments here must begin with removing the young person from the suggestive environment and offering a counter-message in family therapy.

    Then there is the subgroup of very young, often prepubescent children who notice distinct sex roles in the culture and, exploring how they fit in, begin imitating the opposite sex. Misguided doctors at medical centers including Boston’s Children’s Hospital have begun trying to treat this behavior by administering puberty-delaying hormones to render later sex-change surgeries less onerous—even though the drugs stunt the children’s growth and risk causing sterility. Given that close to 80% of such children would abandon their confusion and grow naturally into adult life if untreated, these medical interventions come close to child abuse. A better way to help these children: with devoted parenting.

    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.

    • That’s a very good and detailed analysis of the situation, Jack. There’s not much I could add to it. I would only state that the true motivation for the allowance of this “surgical procedure” (in spite of its historical ramifications), the outlawing of psychological counseling (!) and the boisterous support this has gained in the liberal sectors of society is not due to any “moral” factor, but a political one. People who not only engage in, but define themselves by their sexual fantasies tend to be (unsurprisingly) bloc voting liberals themselves. For many politicians, this is all the reason they need to support such otherwise insane policies.

    • Two comments:

      First, one from Dr Mchugh himself, from his work Psychiatric Misadventures

      This interrelationship of cultural antinomianism and a
      psychiatric misplaced emphasis is seen at its grimmest in the
      practice known as sex-reassignment surgery. I happen to know about
      this because Johns Hopkins was one of the places in the United
      States where this practice was given its start. It was part of my
      intention, when I arrived in Baltimore in 1975, to help end it.

      To represent that he went in with an open mind, and found that the evidence led him to some inescapable conclusions, as he implies in the WSJ article, is perhaps just a little misleading.

      Second, from Dr Dan Karasic, Health Sciences Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, UCSF

      McHugh does cite one study from 2011, by Cecilia Dhejne, MD and colleagues at Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. However, he misunderstands Dr. Dhejne’s work. In the paper, Dr. Dhejne states that the study was not designed to draw conclusions on the efficacy of transgender surgeries, yet McHugh does exactly that. A closer reading of the paper shows that the increased mortality is in those who had surgery before 1989, and that mortality in trans people after 1989 is not statistically different from the general population. A recently published paper by Dr. Dhejne and colleagues shows that the regret rate for those having surgery from 2001-2010 is only 0.3%. Dr. Dhejne’s work shows that outcomes for transgender surgery have improved tremendously in the past 30 years, which supports the HHS decision to remove trans exclusions/


      In my correspondence with Dr Cecilia Dhejne, her reaction to Dr McHugh’s misrepresentation of her work could be described as quietly and professionally incandescent.

      It was unfortunate the the WSJ redacted Dr Karasic’s words when they published his letter of reply.

      • Now for a Disclaimer. My objectivity here is questionable. As evidence of that, I refer you to this article, regarding Dr McHugh’s work Surgical Sex in the Religious/Political journal, First Things.

        I feel that, by reading that, the extent of my bias can be accurately gauged. My article could be improved by employing some less emotionally charged words, omitting “scathing”… “ridiculous”… “nonsense”… etc, but then it wouldn’t be an accurate reflection of my views. Any paper that purports to be an analysis of an accurate collection of data – and which has values of -18 and +19 on a scale of -8 to 5… well, I do feel rather strongly that some alarm bells should have rung during peer review, and find the fact that no other paper before or since has gotten even remotely the same results to be unsurprising. It would be astonishing if they had.

          • It was not thoughtful unless you consider doing something that you were asked to do thoughtful rather than fulfilling an obligation.

            And not kind, remember to respect other people’s identities. I’m wicked and I’m limited

            And on that note, just to clear the air, I ask forgiveness for the things I’ve done, you blame me for.

            • To the extent that forgiveness is warranted or relevant – of course you have it. I in turn request forgiveness for my own trespasses from you. Starting with the trespass of calling you thoughtful and kind, rather than wicked and limited, as you prefer..I forgot that you identify as that, sorry.

              Is it OK if I say you’re a wicked, limited person who performed a kind, thoughtful act? Or would that be putting my foot in it? Again?

              I don’t actually blame you for anything. We disagree on certain matters. I have no direct line to TRUTH, you could be right, and I wrong.

              I certainly appreciate you expressing your views. If I’m to learn anything and improve my own, I can’t do that in an echo-chamber where everyone agrees with me.

              • Hmm, if you feel you’ve done something wrong then as penance I ask you to listen to the _Wicked_ soundtrack and memorize the lyrics to _For Good_

                As for echo chambers… _Too late for second-guessing, too late to go back to sleep. It’s time to trust my instincts, close my eyes and leap.

                It’s time to try defying gravity._

  13. 1. Thank you—I was awaiting some home-grown expertise.
    2. You know, the fact that you and SMP post at the same time of day makes me wonder. If it turns out that you are secretly living together and are like Carville and Matelin, I am going to be furious;

    • Wouldn’t work, Jack. I have no “cognitive desistance” (or whatever the hell) when it comes to my Sexual Identity. I brief glance at myself after a shower assures me I’ve been right all along. My “sexual misadventures” have been of the usual variety!

      • Re “misadventures”… I’m not going there…. I can’t say I’ve had any, usual or unusual. I’m not even sure what the usual ones are, I’ve led a very sheltered life in that regard.

        Think the Duggar girls. The whole “no holding hands till betrothal” bit. “You may kiss the bride” meaning exactly what it said, permission to, before that, forbidden. I was stupid enough to take things at face value, and not see that only massive hypocrisy made the system work. I thought that what was preached was actually practiced, at least by most people. Of course most men and women were virgins on their wedding night, just as most people didn’t rob banks.

        I can be extraordinarily stupid.

        I stopped believing the theological nonsense I got prizes for spouting at Baptist Sunday School before I was 7 years old. I guess the social mores influenced me far more than I thought though.

        But I digress.

        I brief glance at myself after a shower assures me I’ve been right all along.

        Brilliant summation. I think maybe you do get it, a bit anyway, since that is the difference.

        Since 2005, I’ve felt as you do now. Not before though.

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