OTTAWA, January 11, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A prominent Toronto psychiatrist has severely criticized the assumptions underlying what has been dubbed by critics as the Canadian federal government's "bathroom bill," that is, Bill C-279, a private member’s bill that would afford special protection to so-called "transgender" men and women.
Dr. Joseph Berger has issued a statement saying that from a medical and scientific perspective there is no such thing as a "transgendered" person, and that terms such as “gender expression” and “gender identity" used in the bill are at the very least ambiguous, and are more an emotional appeal than a statement of scientific fact.
Berger, who is a consulting psychiatrist in Toronto and whose list of credentials establishes him as an expert in the field of mental illness, stated that people who identify themselves as "transgendered" are mentally ill or simply unhappy, and pointed out that hormone therapy and surgery are not appropriate treatments for psychosis or unhappiness.
"From a scientific perspective, let me clarify what ‘transgendered’ actually means," Dr. Berger said, adding, "I am speaking now about the scientific perspective – and not any political lobbying position that may be proposed by any group, medical or non-medical."
"‘Transgendered’ are people who claim that they really are or wish to be people of the sex opposite to which they were born, or to which their chromosomal configuration attests," Dr. Berger stated.
"Some times, some of these people have claimed that they are ‘a woman trapped in a man’s body’ or alternatively ‘a man trapped in a woman’s body’."
"The medical treatment of delusions, psychosis or emotional happiness is not surgery," Dr. Berger stated.
"On the other hand," Dr. Berger continued, "if these people are asked to clarify exactly what they believe, that is to say do they truly believe whichever of those above propositions applies to them and they say ‘no’, then they know that such a proposition is not true, but that they ‘feel’ it, then what we are talking about scientifically, is just unhappiness, and that unhappiness is being accompanied by a wish – that leads some people into taking hormones that predominate in the other sex, and even having cosmetic surgery designed to make them ‘appear’ as if they are a person of the opposite sex."
He explained that cosmetic surgery will not change the chromosomes of a human being in that it will not make a man become a woman, capable of menstruating, ovulating, and having children, nor will it make a woman into a man, capable of generating sperm that can unite with an egg or ovum from a woman and fertilize that egg to produce a human child.
Moreover, Dr. Berger stated that the arguments put forward by those advocating for special rights for gender confused people have no scientific value and are subjective and emotional appeals with no objective scientific basis.
"I have read the brief put forward by those advocating special rights, and I find nothing of scientific value in it," Dr. Berger said in his statement. "Words and phrases, such as 'the inner space,' are used that have no objective scientific basis."
"These are the scientific facts," Dr. Berger said. "There seems to me to be no medical or scientific reason to grant any special rights or considerations to people who are unhappy with the sex they were born into, or to people who wish to dress in the clothes of the opposite sex."
"The so-called ‘confusion’ about their sexuality that a teenager or adult has is purely psychological. As a psychiatrist, I see no reason for people who identify themselves in these ways to have any rights or privileges different from everyone else in Canada," he concluded.
REAL Women of Canada asked Dr. Berger for a statement on the issues surrounding Bill C-279 after the organization appeared before the review committee hearings on the bill.
Gwen Landolt of REAL Women told LifeSiteNews that after being initially refused permission to present their perspective on the bill to the review committee, the group was accepted, but found that all other groups and individuals who had been accepted to appear before the committee were supporters of Bill C-279.
"It can scarcely be an impartial review of any bill if only the witnesses supporting the bill are invited to speak to it," Landolt said.
Landolt explained that after passing second reading on June 6, 2012, Bill C-279 went to the Justice and Human Rights Committee for review.
At the review committee hearings, REAL Women of Canada presented a 12 page brief setting out the harms created by the bill, and pointing out that the terms “gender expression” and “gender identity," as written in Bill C-279, were so broad that they could be used to protect pedophilia along with other sexual perversions, if passed into law.
REAL Women provided the committee with evidence that post-operative trans-gendered individuals suffer substantially higher morbidity and mortality than the general population, placing the so-called “sex reassignment” surgery and hormone treatment under continued scrutiny.
They pointed out that a pioneer in such treatment, Dr. Paul McHugh, distinguished professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and psychiatrist-in-chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital, stopped the procedures because he found that patients were no better adjusted or satisfied after receiving such treatment.
McHugh wrote in 2004 that “Hopkins was fundamentally cooperating with a mental illness” by catering to the desires of people who wanted surgery to change their biological sex.
“We psychiatrists, I thought, would do better to concentrate on trying to fix their minds and not their genitalia,” he stated, adding that “to provide a surgical alteration to the body of these unfortunate people was to collaborate with a mental disorder rather than to treat it.”
Landolt noted that the committee hearings ended in confusion over the terminology presented in the bill, and that even the bill's sponsor, NDP MP Randall Garrison (Esquimalt – Juan de Fuca), was not clear as to who is included and who is excluded in these terms.
"The definition for 'gender identity' proposed by Mr. Garrison is a subjective one that he defined as a 'deeply felt internal and individual experience of gender, which may or may not correspond with the sex that the individual was assigned at birth'," Landolt said, adding that "The committee engaged in extensive discussions on the meaning of “gender identity” and “gender expression” without much clarification."
"As a result, instead of a smooth, orderly dispatch of this bill through the Committee orchestrated by Garrison, Conservative MP Shelly Glover (St. Boniface, Manitoba) and Conservative MP Kerry-Lynne Findlay (Delta-Richmond-East, BC), the committee hearings broke down in confusion at the final hearing on December 10th. The result is that the bill will be reported to the House of Commons as originally written without amendments," Landolt stated.
Following this state of confusion over terms at the review committee, REAL Women sought out an expert in order to provide the scientific and medical evidence relating to "transgenderism" and the other terms used in the bill.
Gwen Landolt told LifeSiteNews that REAL Women of Canada will be including Dr. Berger's statement in an information package to be sent to MPs before the bill comes to final vote.
"It is crucial that MPs know that this legislation is harmful, not only to those who think themselves transgendered but also to society, and should not be passed into law," Landolt said. "We must therefore write to our MP’s to request that they speak against this troubling bill."
Dr. Berger is certified as a specialist in Psychiatry by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, and is an elected Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. He is also a past Chairman of the Toronto district of the Ontario Medical Association and past President of the Ontario branch of the American Psychiatric Association.
Berger has been an Examiner in Psychiatry for the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology for twenty five years, has taught as Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto, and is the author of many published papers on different aspects of Diagnosis and Independent Psychiatric Assessments, as well as author of the book “The Independent Medical Examination in Psychiatry” published by Butterworth/Lexis-Nexis.
To contact Prime Minister Harper and the Minister of Justice, Rob Nicholson, about Bill C-279:
The Rt. Hon. Stephen J. Harper
Office of the Prime Minister House of Commons Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
The Hon. Robert Nicholson
Minister of Justice House of Commons Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
Find contact information for Members of Parliament here.