Kathleen Gilbert

Family which abused boy now blames gender identity therapy for his suicide decades later

Kathleen Gilbert
Kathleen Gilbert
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LOS ANGELES, California, June 9, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The family of a man who was violently abused by his father in childhood has blamed a 10-month experimental gender identity therapy in the 1970s for their son’s distress and suicide in 2003.

Both CNN host Anderson Cooper and the prominent gay rights blog Box Turtle Bulletin this week released detailed reports on the story of Kirk Murphy, the five-year-old subject of a government-funded study on gender identity disorder in the early 1970s. The purpose of the therapy was to discourage effeminate behavior in Kirk, who his family says grew up maladjusted and was found hanged in his room in 2003 at the age of 38.

The family has not indicated that Kirk gave a reason for the suicide, but now claims that his therapy sessions at UCLA at the age of five should be blamed for his demise.

Kirk’s mother Kaytee became aware of the possibility of therapy in 1970 through a television broadcast by gender identity expert Dr. Richard Green; she signed Kirk up for it because she had been troubled by his effeminate behavior.

“It bothered me because I wanted Kirk to grow up and have a normal life,” she said. The family was living at the time in Sylmar, a district of Los Angeles.

However, an extensive report by the Box Turtle Bulletin blog’s Jim Burroway revealed that such behavior was not the only source of the family’s concern for Kirk.

Relatives say the family was partially prompted to pursue therapy out of concern for how Kirk’s father, Rod, acted colder towards his younger son than to Mark, the elder brother.

“They said he had to go to UCLA because of his relationship with his dad,” said Kirk’s cousin Donna, according to Burroway. “They said it was Rod’s fault because he didn’t love Kirk enough.”

Gender identity therapists have recognized a lack of affection from one’s father as a risk factor for males developing gender identity disorders.

The family brought Kirk to experimental therapy at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). There, the boy was subjected to a treatment approach focusing on positive reinforcement for desired behavior. The experimental study was guided by and published in part by George Rekers, then a doctoral student who later became a prominent advocate of reparative therapy.

CNN cites a UCLA researcher as confirming that Kirk was the same boy as “Kraig,” the pseudonym of the subject of Dr. George Rekers’ study; also, both Kirk and the subject had an older brother and an infant sister. Nonetheless, several discrepancies emerged between Kirk’s story as remembered by his family and that of “Kraig.” For example, while Kirk’s family denies that Kirk’s effeminism was severe, Rekers wrote that “Kraig” showed “profound” feminine behaviors that were “very alarm[ing]” to his family, including “pronounced feminine mannerisms, gestures, and gait.” Kirks’ mother, Kaytee Murphy, also had no recollection of the six therapy sessions in which the subject’s mother was recorded to have participated in the reinforcement regimen.

The study notes that one reason for pursuing reparative therapy was that, when left untreated, “adult cross-gender problems ... contribute developmentally to difficulties in social relationships, so that by adulthood, the syndrome is frequently accompanied by other serious emotional, social, and economic maladjustments,” including suicide and suicide ideation.

After the sessions finished, the Murphys were instructed to continue encouraging normative behavior on a token reinforcement system, using red and blue poker chips to reinforce both gender-related and other habits. Rekers concluded at a three-year follow-up session that the child’s more masculine habits “have become normalized,” and the therapy was deemed a success.

However, according to the family’s recollections, the reinforcement regimen took an ugly turn when brought back home: instead of the “spanking” advised for Kirk’s misbehavior, according to his children and wife Rod Murphy physically abused his son so violently that Kirk’s sister Maris recalls hiding in her room under pillows to avoid hearing Kirk’s screams. Mark Murphy broke down in tears as he recalled how he would try to save his younger brother from his father’s beatings.

His mother recalled one beating that was “so hard that [Kirk] had welts up and down his back and on his buttocks.”

“Today, it would be abuse,” said Kaytee.

His family detailed how Kirk grew to become nervous, sensitive, and overly withdrawn, and noted that he attempted suicide once when he was 17 before his final attempt years later.

Maris says that for years she had not blamed the therapy for her brother’s suicide, but after learning more about the published study from Dr. Green, and an extended email correspondence with Burroway, began to see things differently. Now mother and siblings alike blame the changes they saw in Kirk on the reparative therapy.

“I blame them [the therapists] for the way his life turned out,” said his mother. “If one person causes another person’s death, I don’t care if it’s 20 or 50 years later, it’s the same as murder in my eyes.”

George Rekers, who was tracked down by CNN, expressed sorrow at Kirk’s suicide, but said linking the event to therapy 30 years prior was tenuous.

“That’s a long time ago, and to hypothesize, you have a hypothesis that positive treatment back in the 1970s has something to do with something happening decades later. That hypothesis would need a lot of scientific investigation to see if it’s valid,” said Rekers, adding that “two independent psychologists with me had evaluated him and said he was better adjusted after treatment, so it wasn’t my opinion.”

One of those therapists, Dr. Larry Ferguson, told CNN that he had not noticed any “red flags” in later evaluations of Kirk. Maris countered that her brother was conditioned to misrepresent himself to the therapists.

“The research has a postscript that needs to be added. That is that Kirk Andrew Murphy was Kraig and he was gay, and he committed suicide,” she concluded.

Gay rights advocates often point to the seminal de-classification in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) in 1973, and the resulting shift in position by all top medical associations, as proof that homosexuality is an unchangeable trait. However, the debate is far from closed, as prominent studies continue to support the possibility of reparative therapy.

Dr. Robert Spitzer, who is acknowledged as “spearheading” the 1973 change within the APA, asserted that reparative therapy for homosexuality was possible based on the results of a study he conducted in 2001, despite beginning the study as a skeptic.

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Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signs the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
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Indiana faces backlash as it becomes 20th state to protect religious liberty

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By Ben Johnson

INDIANAPOLIS, IN, March 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – On Thursday, Indiana became the 20th state to prevent the government from forcing people of faith to violate their religious beliefs in business or the public square.

Gov. Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SB 101) into law, saying the freedom of religion is a preeminent American value.

“The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion, but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action,” Pence said.

Gov. Pence, a possible dark horse candidate for president in 2016, cited court cases brought by religious organizations and employers, including Catholic universities, against the HHS mandate. “One need look no further than the recent litigation concerning the Affordable Care Act. A private business and our own University of Notre Dame had to file lawsuits challenging provisions that required them to offer insurance coverage in violation of their religious views.”

The new law could also prevent Christian business owners from being compelled to bake a cake or take photographs of a same-sex "marriage" ceremony, if doing so violates their faith. In recent years, business owners have seen an increased level of prosecution for denying such services, despite their religious and moral beliefs.

The state's pro-life organization applauded Pence for his stance. "Indiana's pro-life community is grateful to Gov. Mike Pence for signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law,” said Indiana Right to Life's president and CEO Mike Fichter. “This bill will give pro-lifers a necessary legal recourse if they are pressured to support abortion against their deeply-held religious beliefs.”

“RFRA is an important bill to protect the religious freedom of Hoosiers who believe the right to life comes from God, not government,” he said.

The state RFRA is based on the federal bill introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993. The Supreme Court cited the federal law when it ruled that Hobby Lobby had the right to refuse to fund abortion-inducing drugs, if doing so violated its owners' sincerely held religious beliefs.

In signing the measure – similar to the one Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed – Pence and the state of Indiana have faced a torrent of venom from opponents of the bill, who claim it grants a “right to discriminate” and raises the spectre of segregation.

"They've basically said, as long as your religion tells you to, it's OK to discriminate against people," said Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, a national homosexual pressure group.

The Disciples of Christ, a liberal Protestant denomination based in the state capital, has said it will move its 2017 annual convention if the RFRA became state law. The NCAA warned the bill's adoption “might affect future events” in the Hoosier state.

Pence denied such concerns, saying, "This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way I would've vetoed it."

The bill's supporters say that, under the Obama administration, it is Christians who are most likely to suffer discrimination.

"Originally RFRA laws were intended to protect small religious groups from undue burdens on practicing their faith in public life,” said Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. “It was not imagined there would come a day when laws might seek to jail or financially destroy nuns, rabbis or Christian camp counselors who prefer to abstain from the next wave of sexual and gender experimentation. And there's always a next wave.”

The bill's supporters note that it does not end the government's right to coerce people of faith into violating their conscience in every situation. However, it requires that doing so has to serve a compelling government interest and the government must use the least restrictive means possible. “There will be times when a state or federal government can show it has a compelling reason for burdening religious expression – to ensure public safety, for instance,” said Sarah Torre, an expert at the Heritage Foundation. “But Religious Freedom Restoration Acts set a high bar for the government to meet in order to restrict religious freedom.”

Restricting the ability of government to interfere in people's private decisions, especially their religious decisions, is the very purpose of the Constitution, its supporters say.

"Religious freedom is the cornerstone of all liberty for all people,” Tooley said. “Deny or reduce it, and there are no ultimate limits on the state's power to coerce."

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Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting.
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Porn is transforming our men from protectors into predators. Fight back.

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By Jonathon van Maren

Since I’ve gotten involved in anti-pornography work, I’ve met countless men who struggle, fight, or have beaten pornography. Each person seems to deal with the guilt and shame that accompanies porn use in a different way—some deny that it’s “all that bad,” others pretend that they could “stop whenever they want,” many insist that “everyone is doing it,” and most, when pressed, admit to a deep sense of self-loathing.

One worry surfaces often in conversation: What do my past or current struggles with pornography say about me as a man? Can I ever move past this and have a meaningful and fulfilling relationship?

I want to address this question just briefly, since I’ve encountered it so many times.

First, however, I’ve written before how I at times dislike the language of “struggling” with pornography or pornography “addiction,” not because they aren’t accurate but because too often they are used as an excuse rather than an explanation. It is true, many do in fact “struggle” with what can legitimately be considered an addiction, but when this language is used to describe an interminable battle with no end (and I’ve met dozens of men for whom this is the case), then I prefer we use terminology like “fighting my porn habit.” A semantic debate, certainly, but one I think is important. We need to stop struggling with porn and start fighting it.

Secondly, pornography does do devastating things to one’s sense of masculinity. We know this. Pornography enslaves men by the millions, perverting their role as protector and defender of the more vulnerable and turning them into sexual cannibals, consuming those they see on-screen to satisfy their sexual appetites.

What often starts as mere curiosity or an accidental encounter can turn into something that invades the mind and twists even the most basic attractions. I’ve met porn users who can’t believe the types of things they want to watch. They haven’t simply been using porn. Porn has actively reshaped them into something they don’t recognize and don’t like. 

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Porn is this generation’s great assault on masculinity and the role of men in society. It is essential that we win this battle for the sake of society’s survival. Contrary to what the gender-bending and family-morphing progressive elites claim, good husbands and good fathers and good church leaders are necessary for a healthy society. But pornography is destroying marriages, creating distant and disconnected fathers, and, metaphoricaclly castrating men, hindering their ability and desire to make a positive difference in the society around us.

So, with this sobering set of facts in mind let’s return to the question: what do pornography struggles, past and present, say about a man?

The proper way to respond is with everything that is good about masculinity. We have to fight pornography as men have fought countless evils throughout the ages. We need to fight pornography to protect women, and wives, and children, and our society at large. This is how pornography threatens society, by castrating men, and turning them from protectors into predators. Rooting out the evil in our own lives allows us to better fulfill the role we are called to perform in the lives of others. Battling our own demons enables us to battle the wider cultural demons. Every day without porn is another bit of virtue built. Virtue is not something you’re born with. Virtues are habits that you build. And one day without porn is the first step towards the virtue of being porn-free.

Many men ask me if men who have had past porn addictions are cut out for being in a relationship or working in the pro-life movement or in other areas where we are called to protect and defend the weak and vulnerable. And the answer to that is an unequivocal yes. Our society needs men who know what it means to fight battles and win. Our society needs men who can say that they fought porn and they beat porn, because their families and their friends were too important to risk. Our society needs men who rose to the challenge that the evils of their generation threw at them, and became better men as the result. And our society needs men who can help their friends and their sons and those around them fight the plague of pornography and free themselves from it, too—and who can understand better and offer encouragement more relevant than someone who has fought and been freed themselves?

So the answer to men is yes. Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting. Lend them support and encouragement. We cannot change the fact that porn has left an enormous path of destruction in its wake. But we can change the fact that too many people aren’t fighting it. We can change our own involvement. And we can rise to the challenge and face this threat to masculinity with all that is good about masculinity.

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Red Alert!

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By John-Henry Westen

I don’t like having to do this, but we have always found it best to be totally upfront with our readers: our Spring fundraising campaign is now worrying us! 

You see, with just 6 days remaining, we have only raised 30% of our goal, with $125,000 still left to raise. That is a long ways to go yet.

We have no choice but to reach our minimum goal of $175,000 if we are going to be able to continue serving the 5+ million readers who rely on us every month for investigative and groundbreaking news reports on life, faith and family issues.

Every year, LifeSite readership continues to grow by leaps and bounds. This year, we are again experiencing record-breaking interest, with over 6 million people visiting our website last month alone!

This unprecedented growth in turn creates its own demand for increased staff and resources, as we struggle to serve these millions of new readers.

And especially keep this in mind. As many more people read LifeSite, our mission of bringing about cultural change gets boosted. Our ultimate goal has always been to educate and activate the public to take well-informed, needed actions.

Another upside to our huge growth in readers is that it should be that much easier to reach our goal. To put it simply: if each person who read this one email donated whatever they could (even just $10) we would easily surpass our goal! 

Today, I hope you will join the many heroes who keep this ship afloat, and enable us to proclaim the truth through our reporting to tens of millions of people every year!

Your donations to LifeSite cause major things to happen! We see that every day and it is very exciting. Please join with us in making a cultural impact with a donation of ANY AMOUNT right now. 

You can also donate by phone or mail. We would love to hear from you!

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