Thaddeus Baklinski

Psychiatry expert: ‘scientifically there is no such thing as transgender’

Thaddeus Baklinski
Thaddeus Baklinski
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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
Fax: 613-941-6900
Email: [email protected]

The Hon. Robert Nicholson
Minister of Justice House of Commons Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
Fax: 613-992-7910
Email: [email protected]

Find contact information for Members of Parliament here.

Related:

Canadian ‘transsexual’ bill passes second reading 150 to 132

15 federal Conservatives who helped Canadian ‘transsexual’ bill pass 2nd reading

Transgender bill ‘isn’t necessary,’ concedes Canadian Human Rights Commission

TV personality slams Conservative government for supporting ‘transgender’ bill

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Vatican’s doctrine chief: ‘Absolutely anti-Catholic’ to let bishops conferences decide doctrine or discipline

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By John-Henry Westen

VATICAN, March 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has rejected outright the idea floated by Germany’s Cardinal Reinhard Marx that various bishops’ conferences around the world would decide for themselves on points of discipline or doctrine. 

“This is an absolutely anti-Catholic idea that does not respect the catholicity of the Church,” Cardinal Müller told France’s Famille Chrétienne in an interview published today

The question was raised because Cardinal Marx, the head of the German Catholic bishops’ conference and a member of Pope Francis’ advisory Council of Nine, told reporters that the German bishops would chart their own course on the question of allowing Communion for those in “irregular” sexual unions.

“We are not a subsidiary of Rome,” he said in February. “The Synod cannot prescribe in detail what we should do in Germany.”

Vatican Cardinal Müller remarked that while episcopal conferences may have authority over certain issues they are not a parallel magisterium apart from the pope or outside communion with the bishops united to him.

Asked specifically about Cardinal Marx saying that the Church in Germany is “not a subsidiary of Rome,” the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said pointedly “the president of an Episcopal Conference is nothing more than a technical moderator, and as such has no special teaching authority.”  He added moreover, that the dioceses in a particular country “are not subsidiaries of the secretariat of an Episcopal conference or diocese whose Bishop presides over the Episcopal Conference.”

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The CDF head warned that “this attitude makes the risk of waking some polarization between the local churches and the universal Church.” He did not however believe that there was the will for Episcopal conferences to separate from Rome.

The important interview also saw Cardinal Müller contest the notion that the pastoral practice or discipline could change while retaining the same doctrine. “We can not affirm the doctrine and initiate a practice that is contrary to the doctrine,” he said.

He added that not even the papal Magisterium is free to change doctrine. “Every word of God is entrusted to the Church, but it is not superior to the Word,” he said. “The Magisterium is not superior to the word of God. The reverse is true.”

Cardinal Müller rejected the notion that we would have to modify Christ’s unflinching words totally forbidding divorce and remarriage.  We cannot “say that our ministry should be more cautious than Jesus Christ Himself!”  Nor could we, he added, say that Christ’s teaching is out of date or that “we need to correct or refine Jesus Christ because He lived in an idealistic world.” 

Rather, the cardinal said, bishops must be ready for martyrdom.  Quoting Jesus he said, “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and if we speak all kinds of evil against you because of me.”

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‘Groundbreaking’: Kansas may become first state to ban dismemberment abortions

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By Ben Johnson

TOPEKA, KS, March 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Kansas will become the first state in the country to ban a procedure in which unborn children are dismembered in the womb, if Gov. Sam Brownback signs a bill that recently passed the state legislature.

The state House passed a ban on dilation and evacuation (D&E) abortions, called dismemberment abortions in common parlance, by 98-26 on Wednesday.

The Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act, which had already passed the state Senate in February 31-9, now heads to Gov. Brownback's desk.

Brownback, a staunch defender of life, is expected to sign the act into law.

"Because of the Kansas legislature's strong pro-life convictions, unborn children in the state will be protected from brutal dismemberment abortions," said Carol Tobias, president of the National Right to Life Committee, which has made banning dismemberment abortions a national legislative focus.

The procedure, in which an abortionist separates the unborn child's limbs from his body one at a time, accounts for 600 abortions statewide every year.

Nationally, it is “the most prevalent method of second-trimester pregnancy termination in the USA, accounting for 96 percent of all second trimester abortions,” according to the National Abortion Federation Abortion Training Textbook.

“It’s just unconscionable that something happens to children that we wouldn’t tolerate being done to pets,” Katie Ostrowski, the legislative director of Kansans for Life, told The Wichita Eagle.

Leading pro-life advocacy groups have made shifting the debate to dismemberment a national priority, with similar legislation being considered in Missouri and Oklahoma. Mary Spaulding Balch, J.D., who is NRLC's director of state legislation, called the bill's passage in Topeka “groundbreaking.”

"When the national debate focuses only on the mother, it is forgetting someone," she said.

The abortion lobby has made clear that it is uncomfortable engaging in a public relations tussle on this ground.

Elizabeth Nash, the senior state issues associate of the Guttmacher Institute, said that dismemberment is “not medical language, so it’s a little bit difficult to figure out what the language would do.”

On the state Senate floor, Democrats tried to alter the bill's language on the floor by replacing the term “unborn child” with fetus. “I know some of you don’t believe in science. But it’s not an unborn child, it’s called a fetus,” said state Senator David Haley, D-Kansas City.

If the bill becomes law, the abortion industry has vowed to fight on.

Julie Burkhart, a former associate of late-term abortionist George Tiller, said the motion's only intention is “to intimidate, threaten and criminalize doctors.”

“Policymakers should be ashamed,” she said, adding, “if passed, we will challenge it in court.”

Gov. Brownback has previously signed conscience rights protections and sweeping pro-life protections into law.

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How NOT to move beyond the abortion wars

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By Anne Hendershott

March 26, 2015 (CrisisMagazine.com) -- A few years ago, when an undergraduate student research assistant of mine—a recent convert to Catholicism—told me that he was planning to meet with a well-known dissenting Catholic theology professor who was then ensconced in an endowed chair at a major metropolitan Catholic university, I told him: “Be careful, you might end up liking him too much.” I jokingly told my student not to make eye contact with the theologian because he might begin to find himself agreeing with him that Catholic teachings “really allow” for women’s ordination and full reproductive rights—including access to abortion.

I was reminded of that conversation this week when I began reading a new book by yet another engaging Catholic theology professor at a major metropolitan university who also claims (pg 6) that the argument he puts forward in his book, Beyond the Abortion Wars, is “consistent with defined Catholic doctrine.” Written by Charles Camosy, associate professor of theology at Fordham University, the new book purports to be in line with Catholic teachings and promises “a way forward for a new generation.” But, Camosy delivers yet another argument for a woman’s right to choose abortion when confronted with an unborn child that he has described—in the past—as an “innocent aggressor.”

Indeed, Camosy has spent much of his career trying to convince us that he knows Catholic teachings better than the bishops. Criticizing Bishop Olmsted for his intervention and excommunication of a hospital administrator for her role in the direct abortion at a Phoenix Catholic hospital, Camosy suggested in 2013 that “the infamous Phoenix abortion case set us back in this regard.” Implying that Bishop Olmsted was not smart enough to understand the moral theology involved in the case, Camosy claimed that “The moral theology in the case was complex—which makes the decision to declare publicly that Sr. McBride had excommunicated herself even more inexplicable. The Church can do better.” For Camosy, “Catholics must be ready to help shape our new discussion on abortion. And we must do so in a way that draws people into the conversation—not only with respectful listening, but speaking in a way that is both coherent and sensitive.”

This new book is likely Camosy’s attempt to “draw people into the conversation.” But, there is little in his book that is either coherent or sensitive. Claiming to want to move “beyond” the abortion wars, Camosy creates an argument that seems designed to offend the pro-life side, while giving great respect to those who want to make sure abortion remains legal.

Especially offensive for pro-life readers will be Camosy’s description of the abortifacient, RU-486 as a form of “indirect abortion.” The reality is that RU-486, commonly known as the “abortion pill,” effectively ends an early pregnancy (up to 8 weeks) by turning off the pregnancy hormone (progesterone). Progesterone is necessary to maintain the pregnancy and when it is made inoperative, the fetus is aborted. For Camosy, who claims that his book is “consistent with settled Catholic doctrine,” this is not a “direct” abortion. To illustrate this, Camosy enlists philosopher Judith Jarvis Thompson’s 1971 “Defense of Abortion”—the hypothetical story of the young woman who is kidnapped and wakes up in a hospital bed to find that her healthy circulatory system has been hooked up to a famous unconscious violinist who has a fatal kidney ailment. The woman’s body is being used to keep the violinist alive until a “cure” for the violinist can be found. Camosy makes the case—as hundreds of thousands of pro-choice proponents have made in the past four decades—that one cannot be guilty of directly killing the violinist if one simply disconnects oneself from him. Likewise, for Camosy, simply taking the drug RU 486 is not “directly” killing the fetus. He writes:

The drugs present in RU 486 do not by their very nature appear to attack the fetus. Instead, the drug cuts off the pregnancy hormone and the fetus is detached from the woman’s body…. Using RU 486 is like removing yourself from [Judith Jarvis Thompson’s] violinist once you are attached. You don’t aim at his death, but instead remove yourself because you don’t think you have the duty to support his life with your body…. Some abortions are indirect and better understood as refusals to aid (pp 82-83).

Perhaps there are some readers who will find Camosy’s argument convincing, but I am not sure that many faithful Catholic readers will agree that it is consistent with settled Catholic doctrine.

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As one who is hardly a bystander in the abortion wars, I wanted to like this book. As an incrementalist who celebrates every small step in creating policy to protect the unborn, I had high hopes that this book would at last begin to bridge the divide. A decade ago, in my own book, The Politics of Abortion, I joined the argument begun by writers like Marvin Olasky in his Abortion Rites: A Social History of Abortion in America, that it is more effective to attempt to change the hearts and minds of people than to create divisive public policy at the federal level. I share Charles Camosy’s desire to end the abortion wars—but this war cannot end until the real war on the unborn ends. This does not mean that the two sides cannot work together—battling it out at the state level—where there is the opportunity for the greatest success. But, complex philosophical arguments on whether RU 486 is a direct or indirect form of abortion are not helpful to these conversations.

Camosy must know that we can never really “end” the abortion wars as long as unborn children are still viewed as “aggressors” or “invaders” and can still be legally aborted. Faithful Catholics know that there is no middle ground on this—the pro-life side has to prevail in any war on the unborn. It can be done incrementally but ground has to be gained—not ceded—for the pro-life side. Besides, Camosy seems a bit late to the battlefield to begin with. In many ways, he seems to have missed the fact that the pro-life side is already winning many of the battles through waiting periods, ultrasound and parental notification requirements, and restrictions on late term abortion at the state level. More than 300 policies to protect the unborn have been passed at the state level just in the past few years. The number of abortions each year has fallen to pre-Roe era levels—the lowest in more than four decade.   Much of these gains are due to the selfless efforts of the pro-life community and their religious leaders. Yet, just as victory appears possible in many more states, Camosy seems to want to surrender by resurrecting the tired rhetoric—and the unconscious violinists—of forty years ago.

While it is disappointing, it is not unexpected considering Camosy’s last book lauded the contributions of Princeton’s most notorious professor, Peter Singer—the proponent of abortion, euthanasia and infanticide. Claiming that Singer is “motivated by an admirable desire to respond to the suffering of human and non-human animals,” Camosy’s 2012 book, Peter Singer and Christian Ethics: Beyond Polarization, argues that, “Though Singer is pro-choice for infanticide, on all the numerous and complicated issues related to abortion but one, Singer sounds an awful lot like Pope John Paul II.”  In a post at New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, a progressive organization led by Rev. Richard Cizik (a former lobbyist for the National Association of Evangelicals who was removed from his position because of his public support for same sex unions, and his softening stance on abortion) Camosy wrote that he found Singer to be “friendly and compassionate.”  Camosy currently serves on the Advisory Board of Cizik’s New Evangelical Partnership—where he has posted Peter Singer-like articles including: “Why Christians Should Support Rationing Health Care.”

One cannot know the motivations of another—we can never know what is in another’s heart so it is difficult to know why Charles Camosy wrote this book. It must be difficult to be a pro-life professor at Fordham University—a school known for dissenting theologians like Elizabeth Johnson. But, if one truly wants to advance a culture of life in which all children are welcomed into the world, it would seem that inviting Peter Singer to be an honored speaker to students at Fordham in 2012 is not the way to do it, nor would claiming that RU-486 “may not aim at death by intention.” Perhaps it is unwise to continue to critically review Camosy’s work from a Catholic perspective because it gives such statements credibility—and notoriety. But, as long as Camosy continues to claim that his writings and policy suggestions—including his newly proposed “Mother and Prenatal Child Protection Act”—are “consistent with defined Catholic doctrine,” faithful Catholics will have to continue to denounce them.

Reprinted with permission from Crisis Magazine. 

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