NEW YORK – The former psychiatrist-in-chief of Johns Hopkins Hospital is continuing his decades-long fight against transgender surgery as a solution to what he calls “a disorder of 'assumption.'”
In a June 12 Wall Street Journal op-ed, Dr. Paul McHugh wrote that “policy makers and the media are doing no favors either to the public or the transgendered” by not treating transgender “confusions … as a mental disorder that deserves understanding, treatment and prevention.”
According to McHugh, the “sense of being transgendered constitutes a mental disorder in two respects.” The first, he says, is that “it does not correspond with physical reality.” The second, more importantly, is that not treating transgender disorder properly “can lead to grim psychological outcomes.”
In his op-ed, McHugh cited a 2011 study that followed “324 sex-reassigned persons” from 1973 to 2003 in Sweden. According to the study’s abstract, it found that “persons with transsexualism, after sex reassignment, have considerably higher risks for mortality, suicidal behaviour, and psychiatric morbidity than the general population.”
“Our findings suggest that sex reassignment, although alleviating gender dysphoria, may not suffice as treatment for transsexualism, and should inspire improved psychiatric and somatic care after sex reassignment for this patient group,” the authors wrote.
The study, McHugh wrote in his op-ed, found 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.”
McHugh says that Johns Hopkins “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,” he explained.
Thus, says McHugh, “we stopped doing sex-reassignment surgery, since producing a 'satisfied' but still troubled patient seemed an inadequate reason for surgically amputating normal organs.”
McHugh, who is also known as a prominent Catholic who served on President George W. Bush's Presidential Council on Bioethics, has written about the Johns Hopkins study before. In a 2004 piece for First Things, he concluded that medical and psychological professionals “have wasted scientific and technical resources and damaged our professional credibility by collaborating with madness rather than trying to study, cure, and ultimately prevent it.”
Other mental health experts have questioned the effectiveness of sex-change operations. Keith Ablow told LifeSiteNews earlier this month that a viral video about a seven-year old child attempting to become male was more harmful than most media sources reported. “I believe that it is possible that developing secondary sexual characteristics that match one’s DNA may actually be part of someone becoming more comfortable with his or her God-given gender,” he said.
According to Ablow, “the aggression shown by the LGBT community toward people who question whether children should prepare to have their genitals surgically altered and be injected with massive doses of hormones is such that clinicians are terrified to continue searching for the truth.”
In his Wall Street Journal piece, McHugh says that “misguided doctors at medical centers including Boston's Children's Hospital have begun trying to treat” transgenderism in youths “even though the drugs stunt the children's growth and risk causing sterility.” He says that, given the chance, “close to 80% of such children would abandon their confusion and grow naturally into adult life if untreated,” and recommends “a better way to help these children: with devoted parenting.”